What's the difference between suicidal thoughts and actions? One mom explains.

I’m suicidal. And no, it’s not what you think.

I am safe. I am not harming myself. I do not have a plan, and I do not plan on doing anything. But I’m suicidal. And I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t.

People like to think of things like suicide in such black-and-white terms. But much like everything else we are so quick to place into categories, being suicidal falls into a gray area for me. Sometimes, I wonder if it does for anybody else.


See, I can be in a really great mood, right?

I could be having the best day of my life. Still, suicidal thoughts will linger.

I don’t have to be in a bad mood to be suicidal. I will still have those thoughts if I’m surrounded by the people I love or if I’m doing something I’m passionate about.


Photo via Unsplash/Pixabay.

I wake up most mornings thinking I’d be better off dead. But I’m quickly distracted by my husband and son, who are sound asleep next to me.

I still feel it, but I try not to give power to it. Throughout the day, I am faced with challenges that directly affect my subconscious. Either the suicidal thoughts get louder, or they remain just a feeling.

I should explain better: Sometimes being suicidal is different than suicidal thoughts. It’s more of a feeling — the feeling that I have an itch I can’t scratch, that a dark cloud is blooming over me. It’s not just anxiety or depression — it falls into a mixed state that's often called suicidal ideation.

I sometimes feel like I'm drowning, like there’s no air, and coming down from that feeling takes so long that it feels impossible.

Usually, I just have to push through life while this feeling is happening, though. I need to go through the day as normally as I can, without feeding it. Some days are harder than others, though, and today happens to be one of those days.

Some days can be more difficult than others. Photo via iStock.

I woke up today knowing I wasn't feeling good, and I’ve taken that into account.

But I woke up thinking my family was better off without me. Then I started thinking about finances and my heart sunk a little more. I started thinking about my parents, and my depression got worse.

I started thinking about everything my husband does so I can test a career in writing, and God, he can do better than me. It’s not fair to him. If I can’t impress the people surrounding me now, can I face how my son will inevitably feel about me?

Then I start crying because it’s all too much, and I’m just a joke. I feel like I’m drowning, over and over and over again. It would be so much easier to end things, and my family could finally get away from how terrible I am.

Photo via ryan melaugh/Flickr.

Even before them, even with exes, and before dating, when it was just my adoptive family and me, it was still the same feeling following me through life.

The way I feel isn’t a reflection of reality, though. I know I have things to live for, and I know things will get better.

I know my family loves me and the people who don’t like me don’t matter. In fact, they probably don’t give a shit. I know this feeling will pass. I just wish my mind and my body would work toward getting better.

I’m not bad yet. I haven’t made any attempts in almost two years, and I’m really proud of that. Every attempt I’ve made to take my own life ends the same way: I fade into a sleep, and I do regret my actions. I think I used to romanticize my own death back when I had nothing to lose. Now everything is on the line, and I’m terrified of the day my thoughts will become louder than my voice. But I know realistically it may not always be this way, and I may need to admit myself to the hospital again someday.

I have great plans for my future and for my family. So please don’t worry.

I don’t intend to end my life, and I’m not self-harming. And if I was, I’d go to the hospital.

But I wanted to write this so people could better understand what it’s like to feel suicidal. It’s so much more than what happens on the day someone decides to end their existence. Suicide goes deeper than that, and it amazes me when people think otherwise. Often, it feels like years of torment, even on good days. Suicide doesn’t usually happen randomly — it’s a buildup.

I don’t want to die; my subconscious and my illness may disagree, but today my voice is louder, and I will not succumb to the evils of my mind.

But please remember that those of us with mental illness live in dark places and gray areas.

There can be dark places for those struggling with mental illness. Photo from iStock.

It’s not something that shuts off and on — it comes in waves, and it peaks and it fades. But these feelings are never gone. I wish more than anything in this world they would disappear.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter, though. I can overcome this. I am a warrior of my own mind, and I will continue defending my inner peace. Every day may be hard; but I am stronger every day.

It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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