Thursday, April 11, 2019

Can We Kill the Stigma? (5 Insights from Cancer about Suicide and Life)

 by Beth Saadati

It’s only two steps. I remind myself this is probably nothing—the odds are ever in my favor!—still, I tremble inside as I climb.

I lie down on the hard table, a pillow beneath my head, a pillow beneath my feet, and turn my head to the side, away from the bustle and noise. A painted scene—beauty to decorate the sterile?—hangs on the wall. Inches away from my face, a CD boom box rests on a ledge. From it, falsely soothing music begins to play.

“We want to make this as comfortable as possible,” says a nurse I can’t see. “Almost like a spa. Don’t hesitate to ask if there’s anything you need.” She’s kind, quite kind, and sincere, but…a spa? Despite the heated blanket draped over me and the wedge pillow cocooned in one arm, it’s not. It’s terrifyingly not.

With no wasted time, the process starts—the prep to be done before the doctor comes. I close my eyes. I try to relax. I make a respectable effort to push all that’s vulnerable, awkward, and exposed out of my mind. It works, somewhat, until Dr. Chaney arrives.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

3 (or 13) Reasons Why Not: From One Left to Survive a Non-Fictionalized Suicide

by Beth Saadati

While perusing at Barnes & Noble, I noticed the girl on the swing. I picked up the prominently displayed novel, scanned the back cover, read the included author’s interview. Suddenly a single thought overshadowed everything else: I never want to read this book.

Not because it wasn’t relevant. Not because I wanted to bury my head in the sand and pretend you and I live in happily-ever-after land.

Rather, because Thirteen Reasons Why was, to its author, fiction. Truth be told, I wanted to fling the novel across the room, because I hated knowing this FICTION was my—and way too many others’—nightmare…my nonfiction reality.

Nevertheless, curiosity got the best of me—it was an international bestseller, plus I wanted to see what the YA literature had to say—and, well, I always want to muster up enough courage to face the hard in life. (That run towards the roar thing.)

So, a few days later I pulled the book off the library shelf, snuggled into a cushioned chair and, without moving save an occasional blink, read the story from beginning to end.

That was thirteen (pardon the irony) months ago. I’ve been processing it ever since. 
  •  Is Thirteen Reasons Why a page-turner? Obviously.  
  • Do I agree with the theme—we can go to school with classmates for years and never really know them—that Jay Asher shared when I briefly met him and heard him speak? Sadly, yes.
  • Am I glad the novel encourages a conversation about tough topics that have, for far too long, been silenced and stigmatized? Definitely.  
  • But…Was I emotionally wrecked and, admittedly, physically sick after completing the book? You can’t imagine the extent.
Why? Despite some positive aspects of Asher’s work, the message it, perhaps unintentionally, communicates about suicide—whether through the Netflix hit series or the novel—is severely wrong in three major ways.  

Friday, May 12, 2017

The 4-Word Motto I'm Choosing to Follow

by Beth Saadati

The quick glance out the window was innocent. Unintended. A lazy Saturday morning thing. But it was enough to view what I by no means wanted to see.

In the middle of my backyard stood an uncommonly large, Edgar Allan Poe raven-like crow. Beside it lay a coiled mound.

I squinted to focus my nearsighted eyes then called for my husband, Komron, and asked him to step outside. 

As we stood on the patio concrete, I pointed to the pile. “What is that?”

Part of me hoped he’d lie and let me live deceived. Instead, he minced no words.

“It’s a snake,” he said. “I’ll be back.”

A snake…take a deep breath…it’s just a snake. (For the record, “just” NEVER belongs in the same sentence as “snake” as far as I’m concerned.)

Needless to say, the internal monologue failed to persuade my scaredy-cat self. My heartbeat escalated to 200 beats-per-minute as I waited . . . paralyzed.

[A responsible blogger would insert a picture of the snake here. But was photographing that nemesis anywhere on my radar at the time? Heck no.]