How to write a suicide letter

Have you got your pen and paper ready? Your take-your-own-life device? Wait, you haven’t planned how you were going to do it yet? Ok, never mind. Let’s just write the letter. 

Dear —- (that’s gonna be the first loved one to find out you why you did such an major act, so they’ve got to be special)

Explain your terrible state prior to the act. Use words such as tired, fed up, exhausted, worn out, beat up. Don’t be afraid to use exaggerations and hyperboles, afterall you need to make it seem logical. They won’t believe you had been in such a terrible state all along or that you’d actually do it but you have to convince them. 

Now start reminding that person of all the amazing things they had done for you and how utterly ungrateful you are for turning your back on them. Tell them you have reached a point where your reasoning has failed you; where you were so depressed and lonely that nothing and no one even mattered. Not your parents, nor your siblings nor your spouse and children, if any. All you could think of was a way out. Even if that way defied your own destiny. You couldn’t fight anymore. You didn’t want to hold on to any more hopes. Nothing and no one gave you hope. You had eyes that could see but you didn’t want to look out for the light. You had hands that could hold but you didn’t want to reach out for help. You wanted to stay where you are. You chose desperation. Yes, you chose it. Desperation didn’t choose you. You decided to curl into fetal position and cry. You shut the world out. You turned your back on life. All you could see where the thorns on the rose, the greyish skies where rainbows hide.   You may tell them you’re a failure,  not for the many times you failed, but actually for failing to find the will to try within you. 

And just before you think I’m judging you for your suicidal thoughts, I just want you to know that I, too, have had them. We all have them. Yes, we’ve all been so low that we could no longer bear life’s afflictions. Everybody is prone to depression, anxiety, mental illness. You’re not a weirdo and you’re certainly not alone in this. The only difference between someone who acts upon these thoughts and someone who refrains from cutting their own rope is how hopeful they remain. The despaired aren’t weak. You aren’t weak for seeking help. You aren’t weak if you cry. You aren’t weak if you’re burnt out, broke, jobless, divorced, betrayed. You are stronger and more free when you understand the wisdom behind your affliction. 

I don’t know what would make you want to read a “how to write a suicide letter”. I don’t know why I’m putting myself in this position where I might be misunderstood. But I’m writing this for somebody, anybody who needs to read this, to know they’re so loved and cherished. You need to know you are an indispensible person in someone’s life. You mean the world to somebody and it’s not up to you to decide to leave them. No. Your time has not come and don’t ever think that by taking the nearest exit you’ll rid yourself of heartache. Don’t ever think that by writing a suicide letter you’d justify yourself to your loved ones. 

Don’t think that by escaping your brokeness you wouldn’t break someone else’s life. 
*To someone I love, someone I don’t even know, hang in there

I am more

That day you provoked my demons

You didn’t know

I was more to what you were seeing

When you shot your arrow

You were aiming at my heart

But you missed it by far

You may have broken my wing

But you failed to see my claws

And just because I don’t roar 

Doesn’t mean I have no voice

And just because I don’t pounce

Doesn’t mean I had no choice

That day you called on your angels

Believing you were a saint

Was the day I decided I’ll never be afraid

I’ll never tremble under the pressure

To be what you want me to be

I’ll only seek my own pleasure

And fight for my own beliefs

My happiness waits for no one

Especially you 

Your doubts won’t shake me

I will pull through

I believe in the power of my dreams

And all the things only I can see

Someday, believe it or not, 

They’ll become a reality

To those who can’t relate

It’s been a while since I’ve last written a parenting blog post. I don’t know why I always feel unfit to give advice or share my views on parenting. Oh, yes, I actually do know why. Because as a mother of a special needs child, I often feel that I can’t relate to the parenting styles that most people around me have adopted. Or, perhaps, it’s the other way around? Aha… that’s it! It’s mostly people with “normal” kids who can’t relate to my views and experience raising a different-slash-special-slash-unique-slash-amazing child.

Lately, instead of sharing what it’s like to have such a child, I sort of drifted away from my goals for this blog. I haven’t been able to write, and I’d like to say I’m sorry to my readers who feel inspired by my “courage” to share parts of my life. It’s been quite hectic and tough in my household, and I honestly started questioning this whole “raise awareness” approach that I was so enthusiastic about during my early months of blogging. Was I really helping others understand my son better by writing about how hard our life is or was I just arousing pitty?

People still give me this puzzled look saying ‘How do you know he’s autistic, he “looks” fine?’ To me, that’s just saying “we really don’t believe this ridiculous diagnosis, but hey if that’s your way of justifying his misbehavior.” It hurts when people ask if there’s a “cure” for autism or whether he’s getting any better with all those endless costly therapy sessions, and all I want to say is “if you’re nagging about how long it’s taking, try living a day in my home and experiencing this unpredictability and uncertainty yourself…oh yeah, and here is our therapist’s bill just in case you feel so bad for us that you’re willing to pay it.”

I have no spite for parents who don’t have special needs children, in fact I’m always willing to answer any question related to autism and my son, based on what I’ve read and experienced myself. Why would I blame someone who’s never had to deal with all the things I deal with if they wonder “what it’s like” and genuinely wants to help? However, I would blame someone who deems her/himself a parenting expert or an educational specialist if they “can’t relate” to my confusion or struggle as a special needs mother. You simply can’t justify this person’s “lack of knowledge” or “failure to empathesize”. You simply can’t allow this deliberate denial nor tolerate this disregard to your feelings and your child’s.

In this day and age, more and more children are being diagnosed with all sorts of learning difficulties and mental disorders. We can no longer overlook those children’s needs or write off their developmental delays as “phases they’ll get over oneday”. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Until they do (and if they do) we must remember that special kids are no different, they thrive on love and understanding, they feed on support and affection. They need to be merged and mainstreamed, not left behind and isloted as if they were malfunctioning defected creatures. Yes, their lives are hard, but they won’t get any easier if we judge their parents or treat them differently, out of pure ignorance. So to those who can’t relate to my special kind of motherhood, I say: “Get a freaking book already.”

Stay awesome, special moms ❤

~ Zeina

Soil and Soul

He made me from soil

He shaped me with His Hands

So I’d remain humble

So I may remember how much He loves me

So I may never lose sight of who I am

Though a sinner at times, I’m mostly human

He gave me a soul

My soul is but a Breath of His soul

So I’d remain elevated

So I may remember how much I love Him

So I may never lose sight of home

Though I know to Whom I belong, I’m mostly human

 

 

 

Image credit: Ireland-based Polish painter Tomasz Alen Kopera

http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/tomasz-alen-kopera-surreal-paintings

About April 

I first learned about World Autism Day about 5 years ago. April 2nd was just another day on the calendar until that fated day when the “A” word became a part of my life. I say the “A” word because I knew almost nothing about ASD back then, it was a disorder that would never touch my family, or so I thought. And when you don’t know what something really is, it’s only natural to develop irrational fears of it.

From the day my son was born I always “felt” there was something unusual about him. He was a very fussy baby who was very hard to console once a tantrum stroke. When he was about a year old, I noticed that he was a little over active and wouldn’t respond much when we’d call his name. This was the first flashing light for me but I didn’t want to even think about the possibility. Then one day I received a translation task from a client in the medical field. It was about autism. I remember reading the document and nodding once, twice, thrice “Yes, yes, he does that…yes, that’s true…Oh my God…this can’t be happening to me…” I turned my head away from my screen and to my husband who was sitting on the couch looking at me, probably wondering if I’d totally lost it. “I think we should take our son to a specialist,” I muttered with a lump in my throat. And that was the beginning of a long and unnerving search for a correct diagnosis. 

The challenges began, and so did the appointments and consultations which never seem to end. Our first appointment was with a neuropediatrician who was specialized in autism. She was very blunt and her diagnosis explicit. “Your son has a very mild form of autism, oh yes, and the hyperactivity is due to the ADHD which accompanies some cases of autism.” She said it, she said the “A” word. my mother burst in tears on our way out of the clinic, I refused to believe a single letter of the diagnosis. “Mom, calm down. It’s not over. I’m getting a second opinion.” She looked at me surprisedly, trying to grasp what she just heard. And before we knew it, we went through a series of assesments and evaluations, meeting over 20 specialists in mental health. I spent a few months in Lebanon for my son’s speech and psychomotor therapy. My whole life was turned upside down. At first I wanted someone to tell me my son is just going through a phase. I wanted to stop all those doctor visits and cut down on all those expenses on services which seemed useless to me. So I went back to the Gulf to my husband and I pretended that my son was OK, it was just a phase that will soon end. I knew deep within that I was only deluding myself. How can I deny the obvious? 

Months later, we decided to relocate to Lebanon to pursue a decent therapy plan and an accomodating schooling environment. It was the best decision I’d ever taken, and, despite all the difficulties, I’m glad to see some progress in his behavior and communication.  

So why am I telling you all this, you might wonder? I’m not sharing this personal part of my life to boast about any achievement. I’m still far behind on what I think I should have done for my son. Then again, I’m a perfectionist, there will always, always, be more to do anyway. But, believe it or not, I decided to give myself some credit for once and say that what I’m doing is something some parents in our society refuse to go through. I may have run away from the truth at first, but when I faced it I felt the greatest relief ever. 

Accepting autism as a part of your family life is the best treatment. Studies say autism can’t be cured, only managed. That might be true but all those stories of hope people share with me about how their ASD children thrived as adults  make me wonder whether autism is as debilitating as we think it is. Perhaps it’s society’s view of children with special needs that is the real boundary here, not the disability itself. That’s why raising awareness about mental illnesses is crucial. The stigma that underlies autism and other disorders is a mere fabrication of the minds of uneducated, ill-informed individuals; an old wives’ tale that must be forever forgotten. 

As a mother of a quirky smart kid I just want to tell mothers who’ve battled for acceptance, mothers who might think they have an ASD case at home, mothers who don’t know what to do with their recently-diagnosed child: You are strong, but you need understanding and support. Everyday is autism day, don’t wait for April to light it up blue or change your profile pic. And most importantly, don’t be ashamed of having a child on the spectrum. I’ve heard agonizing stories of mothers concealing their childrens’ mental disorders or learning difficulties. It neither helps the child nor you to hide such important issues from family and school. You are no less of a mother if your child has a problem. You’re the greatest mother if you gather the love and support he/she truly needs from those who can willingly offer it. Teach the world about your child and your child will gradually start learning everything you ever wanted them to learn about the world. 

Going through rough patches is part of our everyday motherhood. There will be ups and many many downs, but don’t give up. Don’t stop trying, giving or hoping. The hardest part is not knowing what to do, but once you know what needs to be done, what’s there to fear? Trust your hunch, it’s that God-given little voice inside that guides you through life. Accept, love and forgive yourself just as much. Be ready to push yourself when no one else can. 

This is everything I’ve learned so far. This is what has kept me sane! Oh, and word of advice: don’t take other people’s remarks so personally. Forgive them, for they do not know. They haven’t walked a mile in your shoes, or spent a night lost in your worried thoughts. There are so many people out there who are more than willing to listen if you ever want to talk. I’m one of them. Please feel free to drop me a line in the comments below or email me: zeinaelhoss@outlook.com

I’d be more than happy to offer any advice. 
Stay awesome, strong Mama 💙💡

~Zeina

 

 

FOMO? You’ve got to be kidding me!

Ready to hear something totally hilarious? Well, today I accidentally found out about FOMO from a local TV talk show episode I stumbled upon on Youtube. What is FOMO, you might ask? Brace yourself my introverted friend (extroverts, you can stop laughing now), FOMO is an acronym that stands for “fear of missing out”! But of course I’ve never heard of it before. As an introvert occasionally living under rocks, I have no such fears, nor do I comprehend them. Yet I do know a lot of people who have an irrational fear of missing out on things, and these fears are reflected as compulsive behavior, elevated anxiety levels, and low self-esteem. FOMO is like a new mental health syndrome (don’t we have enough of them already?) that could be triggered by our modern-day addiction to social media. Checking your social media phone applications over a million times day just so you won’t “miss out on anything important”; carrying your mobile with you everywhere, is well…an addiction. I have discussed some detrimental effects of social media, namely Facebook, on our daily life as parents in the post about my quitting Facebook. Today I discovered one reason why people  won’t deactivate their Facebook (or other social media) accounts despite their great dissatisfaction with them. It could be the fear of missing out on their “friends'” online activities, recent escapades, and photosessions with cats. That fear of feeling inadequate, isolated, or left out when everybody out there is doing something that they’re not. 

Apparently, that fear could be stemming from personal insecurities, and, although I’m not a mental health professional to make such claims, wanting to join every event, party or gathering out there does not indicate that one is happy with him/herself. The anxiety that arises at the slight chance of not being able to attend an event could be significant to some. Why is that important to make a presence, to become virtually popular or to know people’s whereabouts? I get that many people recharge their energy by being around others, I really do. I, too, often need to socialize to get a new perspective on things, to feel less of an outcast at times. What I don’t understand is why people choose flooding their schedules with activities, many of which are useless, over spending precious quality time doing the things they actually care about, being present for the right people or simply getting to know themselves better. 

When I quit Facebook several months ago, I knew I wasn’t going to regret my decision and, luckily, I didn’t. What constantly bothered me to the point of leaving was the growing fakeness that is celebrated on social networks as well as its users’ abuse of the “post” button. My life continued, I moved on, I missed out on birthdays, deliveries, engagement announcements, divorces and tons of pictures, but I moved on. My mind shifted focus and my priorities were finally set right. 

This Fear of Missing Out is so real for some it’s threatening their real-life relationships. I’ve heard of so many marriages on the verge of demise due to the husband or wife’s preoccupation with excessive pursuit of a higher social status. Juggling personal interests, social  occasions, along with home and work responsibilities, both parents start tugging at their end of the family rope until it finally snaps. Life is hard enough. No family or child should have to suffer in such struggles. A family life is the life one shouldn’t be missing out on, everything else out there can wait.  

I believe the first step to dealing with FOMO is to acknowledge its presence and influence. The next step is to take a short break from social media and try to understand what it is that’s so scary about not being “there for everything”. Is it a feeling of loneliness one should address, or does it run deeper? Whatever the cause, it should be confronted and resolved before that fear bites away into every valuable relationship one has built, devouring one’s energy and focus on what truly matters. 

We are social creatures, we thrive on interacting with others. It’s only natural to seek others for help, entertainment, counsel and affection. But there’s a fine line between socializing and obsessing about being left out of the loop. So for those with FOMO, fear not. No matter how many places you’ll be, things you’ll see or people you’ll meet, you’d still be missing out in life. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on life.

An Open Letter To Moms 

Dear Moms, You must be excited that Mothers’ Day is just around the corner* wondering what crafts your little gems have been making you at preschool or how long your older kids have been saving money to buy you that extra special gift. You must be psyched that finally that one day when mothers are celebrated is here and you’ll get to have a “day off” (Breakfast in bed, anyone?) I know I’d be more than happy to have my family pamper me for the day but you know what would really, really make me happy? Watching my children smile and knowing that they are really happy! Ok, I KNOW we all want that, but sometimes I wonder if we want our children to be happy just to have a break from their nagging, demands and constant questions. Do we really take them out to the park to have fun or do we do that so they can release their inexhaustible energy and spare us all the bedtime agony? Do we buy them gifts to reward their good behavior or to bribe them to behave better all the time? Do we sign them up for karate classes for their physical and emotional development or just to fit in with other families who enroll their children in all sorts of extra curricular activities? 

I have been taking an honest look at my motherhood lately. I know for a fact that it is far from perfect, but you know what? It doesn’t have to be. I don’t have to do any of the things I mentioned to see my kids smile. Being a good mother isn’t really about what I do for my children but how I make them feel. I could be out all day with them, driving them from one playground to another, stuffing their tiny bellies with jelly beans and soda and all sorts of junk food they’re not allowed to consume everyday, buying them every toy they had ever wished for and they still wouldn’t be happy – not because they’re ungrateful, selfish or bratty but because they didn’t notice any happiness in my eyes while I was doing all those things for them. Kids are naturally inclined to seek their parents’ approval, they crave their undivided attention, they want to please Mom and Dad at any cost. Kids love to play and interact with their parents. They want to feel close, and they just want to feel loved. Unfortunately, this very simple fact of life often goes unnoticed with all the daily pressure and chaos in the background. We parents fall into the habit of buying to make up for all the lost time we don’t to spend with our children; That time which in their little minds is translated as love and caring. We are fooled into believing that our kids will be happier if they get that Xbox game or that new bike they’ve been eyeing for weeks. 

We complain about our toddlers’ restlessness to our besties, we hold mommy meetings to solve a friend’s “issue” with her rebellious teenage daughter, we are astonished at how tech-savvy this generation is as if we’re oblivious to all the hours they spend exploring technology – without our supervision at times. Whether mischievous, rebellious or overachieving, these kids may just be looking for attention or approval. How can we be so blind at times not to recognize their basic need for affection? I’m not writing this letter to condemn or patronize. I am certain that moms do what they do best: multitask and make things happen as they excitedly tick off items on their long to-do lists. I know they never miss recitals or forget vaccination appointments. I also know that I could use some advice myself on how to be a more patient and empathetic mother. But I think we moms are treating motherhood like a job at times, rather than a calling. We go about our days performing our duties so robotically that we rarely stop and think about what we’re doing and why we’re not doing what we should. We’re experiencing the ups and downs of parenting as if they weren’t even supposed to happen – with little understanding and loads of protesting. And the worst thing about it all is that we don’t restrain ourselves from publicizing our dissatisfaction – even in front of our children. I say it now with a heaviness in my chest; I am guilty of all of the above. I have sadly let my frustrations control me for far too long. I’ve allowed the fantasy of the “perfect child” ruin the life of my real one. That “perfect child” stood between me and my son, dictating the way I should raise and discipline him. I guess we all want our children to be a certain way. We’ve all had childhood dreams about how our life would turn out to be, including the tiny versions of ourselves. But children aren’t born to be our clones, they have souls and their very own dreams and ambitions. It is when we grasp the fact that we don’t own those little creatures under our custody that we truly begin to appreciate them for who they are. 

I’ve been focusing on “fixing” my child for most of his tender years. Although I have been successful at ensuring better treatment outcomes through earlier intervention, I have failed to notice all the good traits he has. He’s such a talented creative boy on the inside, but we’ve been too consumed with the defiance, aggression and anxiety to help him achieve his potential. One might not blame me for being overly obsessive about chasing after a diagnosis. Perhaps my paranoia is justifiable after all, but if I had to do it all over again, I would have at least done it with his best interest in mind. I confess to being selfish sometimes for trying to change him so that he’d fit in with other kids – so that I, in turn, could maintain what was left of my otherwise incompatible friendships. But some relationships are just not worth saving at the expense of one’s most beloved. I’m sure that we treat our children as a top priority all of the time, but deep down are we just disgruntled parents who are fed up with compromising? I hope that all the questions I raised in this letter would inspire you to accept your children for who they are; to place a hand on your heart as you remember your purpose; to sincerely love your parenting game. These kids may be giving you a hard time more frequently than they should but nobody said parenting was smooth sailing. Parenting isn’t torture either! Relax and be easy on yourself. And if there’s one tip that has never failed me in this journey that I might share with you it’s to pray for your children everyday, pray for their safety, for their health and well-being, for their obedience and devotion, for their happiness and success. Always pray for God to fill your hearts unconditional love they’ll need to lead a fulfilled life. 

What advice would you like to share with other mothers to help them appreciate and enjoy their motherhood every day? Leave your survival tips in the comments below. I’m always thrilled to hear from you. 

Happy Mothers’ Day

~Zeina

* Mothers’ Day is celebrated on March 21st of every year in Middle Eastern countries

What Depression Feels Like

No one goes through this alone…..

Translationista

A heaviness in your chest

A bloodless rupture in your heart

A lump in your throat

It’s like someone’s tearing your soul apart

A weariness in your body

And a loss of precious sleep

A gushing in your eyes

When there’s no reason to weep

A nostalgic look at the past

An unexplained fear of what’s to be

A detachment from the present

In which you live with melancholy

Anger, worry, sadness, isolation

Alientation, withdrawal, anxiety

You shut the world off in fear

Of being found out suffering

Even the things you loved the most

Your hobbies and pastimes

No longer give you smiles

To cope with the hard times

No drug can lift this cloud off

And bring sunshine to your life

And though your beliefs and faith

Come between you and the knife

You wish things had some meaning

And your purpose would come to aid

But your…

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On the pressures to get published

“Hey, you should write a book about your journey with your son.”

“You write really well. Have you ever thought of getting published?”

“How is your book coming along?”

I might have mentioned wanting to write about this journey. True, I’ve always dreamt of seeing all my writings come to life in print. And yes, wanting to become a writer was one of my career goals. But I think I’m done with the pressure. 
Maybe I just want to be a good parent to my autistic son before trying to document my journey, telling others what worked and what didn’t, how we survived this together, and how we happily created  a special mother-son bond through all the trials, heartaches and tears. Maybe I just want to write and blog to relieve the pain. Writing was art and therapy before it started being marketed as a documentation of life experiences and lessons learned. At least that’s how I like it to be. At least that’s why I started writing when I was a teenager. Long before I had my own blog or a social media account, I had notebooks filled with bleedings of my soul. The poems did document the feelings I’d gone through as I dealt with personal and family issues. These notebooks never had any audience and I was completely content just emptying out my emotions on paper without receiving feedback or admiration. These notebooks ended up in the trash, I had to dispose of years of agony due to lack of storage space. It hurt to say goodbye but I had no regrets. They’d served their therapeutic purpose. 
That is not to say that I don’t appreciate receiving readership and encouraging comments on my writings. What use would having a blog be then? Sharing my experiences gives me pleasure, but learning as I go is even more enjoyable. At present, I’m hardly ready to celebrate achievements and milestones. How I can preach what I haven’t practiced or teach lessons I haven’t learned? I’ve got such a long way to go and I’m still low on fuel. 
Right now I’m simply trying to stay focused while I balance my own passions and my son’s needs. I’m simply trying to hold on as I get bombarded with school complaints and inner urges to give up. Wanting to become a writer involves some degree of self-doubt, but I believe it’s just the stress talking at times. I’m sure that the strength and determination within will eventually propel my ship of dreams to its desired destination. It’s mainly my desire to master the parenting trade that’s pushing me to hold off the publishing.
I would doubtlessly be happy to invest the time and effort one day to save some parent the trouble of searching for the right therapy or support system. My goal to inspire and educate is already being met in every post I leave here. 
So right now I just want to write to write. To unravel all the mysteries found on that broad spectrum. To untangle all the thoughts in my mind. To find my happiness and help my son find his. And, if I’m lucky, to spread that happiness like confetti in every parent’s home.