Ringing in Suicide Prevention Week with a BANG

This only represents how I feel maybe 5% of the time. Used to be 95% some years ago.

It’s National Suicide Prevention week and naturally I rung it in with one of the worst nights I’ve had in awhile. You know, the kind of night where you’re curled up in a ball on the floor screaming your lungs out crying, able to move your body only to reach for the bourbon, Bulleit Rye to be exact. The kind of night where the next day you’re glad there were no prescription or otherwise drugs in the house. The kind of night where you know there’s only a handful of people that you can call but it feels like you’ve run out of options, so you fight it alone until you can’t anymore…

Well maybe you don’t know. I can’t tell you the stats on depression but I know that most people, even those that love me dearly, have no clue how to handle me in that state. And I don’t blame them. How should they know what to do? I often leave out details like, “I want to kill myself,” for fear of them calling the cops and having me put on an involuntary 72 hour psych hold; which it would only make sense for them to do so. You don’t want to be the person who didn’t take someone threatening to kill themselves seriously. I know that person, and it’s not pretty. 

I wish I could tell you what to do to comfort me when I’m in that space. Suggest what you might be able to say to make it better. I’m lucky to say that I now have a handful of people that I can call when the event arises. My gulps for air in-between loud tears a reply to their happy hello upon picking up my call. An immediate shift in their voice and a low-toned, concerned, “What’s wrong??” in exchange. Often these calls do talk me off the ledge. Whether it's a listening ear for my pain or prayers, words of encouragement, and support lent from them as I listen and cry in silence, I usually hang up with at least a glimmer of hope and often feel less alone. Which is life saving to say the least.

My body weak, my mind fried, and my head throbbing, I have finally worn myself out. The tears have dried on my tired face and I’m too tired to fight. Consequently, I’m also too tired to think about the hopelessness of this minute and all the minutes I will need to live and fight tomorrow as well. Tired enough to knock out and sleep like a baby. At least for a few hours. Probably in the fetal position as I crawl into bed, makeup and whatever clothes I managed to put on earlier still on.

Although compelled to write this, I write it in the thought that it will make for a good journal entry. It feels cathartic leaving my fingertips as I type away on my computer and recall the emotions of 12 hours prior. But surely I shouldn’t share it with the world… my peers, my friends, my Facebook friends, potential producers that may hire me, or anyone on the internet that stumbles upon my words… I don’t want anyone to read this and mark me with a capital ‘D’, labeling depression as who I am and worse yet, pity me the next time they look me in the eyes.

Because the truth is, most days I LOVE LIFE more than most people could even dream. I feel beauty in the tiniest of things and I fall in love with strangers. I love those close to me 'til it hurts. I feel God in a sunset and in a sip of an almond milk latte at one of those cute hipster coffee shops. 

But I need it to be ok to be both. Yes, I’m believing that one day I will be completely DEPRESSION FREE. Thank God these episodes have become rare and I go longer and longer without them. But until that day, I need to not hate myself for not being stronger than depression some days. I am strong AND I struggle with depression from time to time. I need people. And I need God even when I don’t want Him. I need to be vulnerable and write this so that even ONE who reads this knows they are not alone and that BETTER DAYS surround you even in the midst of the darkest hours.

Much love, from me to you <3  

*If you or anyone you know is seeking help from depression here are some resources--
One of my favorite non-profits: To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA)
Numbers to hotlines: CLICK HERE

Don't brand me

In the professional world, whether it’s real estate, acting, or simply a “day job” to supplement your dream, we are often told that we can only reveal the best part of ourself and only the part that relates to said field. Take me for example, in building my audience as an actor I’m often told to be careful what I put out into the world through social media and otherwise. Making sure it sticks to my “brand”, is professional, relates to acting, and always sheds in me in the best light. But the “perfect”, one dimensional Kaela even bores me. 

If all I can talk about on Facebook, my website, and Twitter is acting and how amazing my career is going, not only do I reek of arrogance but I’ve lost all humanity. And that’s what makes us interesting, isn’t it? Our humanity. 

When I first considered writing a blog my first thought was, “But it isn’t about acting. Shouldn’t my website just stick to acting? Won’t it be a waste of time to write since it’s not what I’m going towards as a career?” Well I’m glad I let that voice of reason pass. Because writing awakens my soul. Which makes me a better person. And in turn a better artist; a better actor.

My mom, a realtor by profession, is on day 117 of 365 days of fitness. She took up surfing at 50, is in great shape, and has been exercising consistently for years now. But she saw the importance of the commitment and was drawn to share it with the world through her blog. Her blog originally started as ‘Realtor Diaries’. Imagine if she had decided that the blog is just meant to be professional. She would have missed out on the opportunity to inspire others and challenge herself through the power of commitment and exercise. Now she’s richer for having risked. 

When I woke up this morning and thought what I will do to further my career, I took a step back and realized that that is only a part of my day, and should not be the entire intention. I decided to shift my frame of thinking back to realizing myself as an artist. And as pastor Erwin McManus would say, “Our lives are our greatest works of art.” So today I wrote a blog and a monologue, read a script, edited a short story I wrote, did homework for acting, sang at the top of my lungs, played piano, and danced in my kitchen while making food. Not a bad day at all. And although it wasn’t all acting related, I’m a much fuller and happier person today for not having limited myself to just my career.

I want you to see the humanity in me. I’m not just an actor. So even in my acting pursuits I hope to show you my struggles, my victories, and my heart through my portrayals. Don’t put yourself in a box. For the box becomes much smaller and less appealing when you try to shove yourself into it for the sake of others. I know... awesome metaphor.

Suppressing my story

It’s funny. Sometimes my story feels like a burden. Like a secret of a life of mistakes that I’m trying to hide in order to convince you that this newer, shinier version of myself is the original model. As I try to hide all the unpretty parts of my past, of who I was, what I did, or what happened to me, it just leaves me further wrought down by shame. Then I must try harder to pull myself up and move farther away from anything having to do with this past and convince you, better yet myself, that I am an entirely different person altogether. I began to resent my story… angry that my story sounded so sad and depressing. Criticizing different parts of it. Making me want to hide it all the more. Wishing I had a different story to tell. 

But when we are transformed… when our lives and our souls are renewed… It is then we find this obligation gnawing at our souls to create beauty from the pain and the scars. A call that is dangerous to ignore. To allow others to see the humanness in me and therefore the greatness in God for how far He has brought me. Not that I am perfect now. Or that I was bad then. But to accept that there was beauty and humanity then, in the midst of imperfection, poor decisions, and harsh things in life that I cannot control, just as there is now. Not only do I do a disservice to myself, but to others, as I choose to hide and bury this past, that pain. Because it is through sharing our story, our trials turned to tribulation, that we are set free and allow God to begin a new work in someone else. Whether or not they share a similar experience, something in your unique story and your unique way of sharing it may resonate with them, giving them the key to begin to unlock their own freedom. So share my friend. Do not be ashamed. "For I am making all things new.” Revelations 21:5