Tuesday, March 7, 2017

It's Okay to Not Be Okay


When asked to give three facts about yourself you want to give three say fun, unique, and interesting facts. Most people would would have typical responses that fall along the lines of, “I have been to 9 countries, have never broken a bone, and I love to read.” My responses are, “I have never had a Dairy Queen Blizzard, I am a dual citizen, and my mom took her own life.”
Most people feel uncomfortable once my last fact is said and given a second to sink in. The majority of the group usually throw out a couple, “oh my gosh, I’m sorry,” or they try to change the subject without acknowledgement. They begin to look at me like I am sad, broken, or a victim which I am no where near. My goal is to rid the negative stigma that surrounds suicide. I want to be able to spin a negative life experience and turn it into a positive, because every 40 seconds we lose someone to suicide world-wide.

My entire life story starts several years before I was born. My dad, once graduated from college, got a job which he traveled the world on a boat. He worked in many countries for several months at a time. He eventually found home in Phitsanulok, Thailand. Where he eventually met and fell in love with my mother. They were married and several years later expecting a baby girl. Six months after I was born, we moved to the United States where my dad was born and raised. My mother was very strong, independent, and stubborn. Once in the country she was determined to become fluent in the English language, gain citizenship, and find a job to occupy her time. In less then 3 years she did all that.

The memories I have of my mom revolve around making her ‘famous’ eggrolls for friends and family, always being the mom that would take my friends and I to the waterpark or playground, loved by the neighborhood, and always being the loudest in the room. For being such a petite woman this lady had a set of lungs on her. Although, I have great memories of my mother when I was young I hold no happy memories of my mom and dad together.

You see, although my mom was very independent she soon grew homesick for Thailand. She made a trip home when I was the age of two, and my grandmother knew that is truly where she wanted and needed to me. My mom and dad began to fight and eventually on the verge of a divorce. The memories I hold as a young child of my parents together only revolve around the yelling, bickering, and moving from house to house. Which I can reflect on now and implement on my life and relationships.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. Most people tell me, “oh you were too young to remember, it is all from what you were told.” That is far from the case, with such a dramatic and almost traumatic news to a five-year-old it sticks with you like a mosquito that will never leave you alone.
With having parents that are on their way to divorce most children understand the thing of taking “sides.” Sunday morning was a huge morning for me. Why?  This particular Sunday every child that was about to start their kindergarten received their very first bible. This purple bible filled with cartoon versions of bible stories meant we finally made it big time in Sunday school. I was about to be a cool kid. After the church service I wanted to get out of my dress and into my overalls and head to my cousins that lived several miles out of town. My mom had stopped into my grandparent’s and tried sitting me down. But for a five-year-old ready to hang out with her friends there was no way this lady was going to get me to sit still. I remember she had asked me several questions about my morning, and her wanting to see my new purple bible. By this point I remember being annoyed and just ready to see my friends. Little did I know that this would be my last time seeing my mom. I sat on the counter as she hugged me and told me her final words.
I had spent the night at a cousin’s house several miles out of town. We had been running around playing basketball when I saw my dad’s white truck pull up with my dad in the driver seat and my grandpa in the passenger seat. I immediately avoided the fact that I had to leave my friends until I heard my dad’s booming voice say, “Siam, it’s time to go.” I hurried to the truck and hopped right in. I shimmied my way between my grandpa and dad in the front seat. I remember that ride briefly but I remember it being full of silence. We arrived at my grandparent’s home and walked into the living room where my entire family sat, but one person was missing.
I don’t quite remember who was the one to say the words but the exact words were, “Siam, Jesus came down and told mom that it was time for her to go.” As a young child I didn’t quite understand. But the way I pictured this all going down was Jesus holding my mom in the middle of the living room telling her it was time to come home. I remember not being sad, because I had read in my purple bible that it was okay to go home with Jesus. Shortly after receiving the news I went and watched cartoons when my grandpa came into explain in further detail that my mom was gone, and she was gone for good.

It wasn’t until I was eleven or twelve that I found out the real reason my mother had passed. At that time, I was filled with anger. How could a woman leave her children? How could a mom make a choice between her own life and her children? It was a hard pill to swallow. It took several years for me to understand the depth of this experience. But once I was able to realize that my personal experiences can prevent others from losing a loved one, my heart swelled full of happiness and I knew there was a purpose for my life. I wasn’t going to sit and dwell on it and be collateral damage, I was going to be collateral beauty and pull the positives out of life.
That is when my personal platform of, It’s Okay To Not Be Okay became. It’s Okay To Not Be Okay is letting others know it is okay to ask for help and offer support to those affected by suicide. You are not alone. I would like others to recognized the warning signs and preventative care for suicide. Because for every 5 that have attempted suicide, 4 have given clear warning signs.

Forever and Always,

Miss North Dakota International 2017
Siam Simpfenderfer