Depression and suicide are a hot topic this week. It’s not something that should pass. It is something that we need to become comfortable discussing. It is time for our community to embrace one another and to become stronger together. Judy Davis, The Direction Diva has been on a mission to make this happen.
This week the world lost a comic genius, a legend, and unstoppable laughter. I lost a man I never met but who had a big impact on my life, especially my childhood. His role in Dead Poets Society played a huge impact on my decision to be an English Major. When I watched Mrs. Doubtfire I cried as much as I laughed, I was missing my dad who had moved 6 months before us to secure a job in another state. Robin Williams and my dad look strikingly similar. So much so that when Hook came out I remember a man walking up to him asking for his autograph. In ninth grade I actually convinced a few classmates that Robin Williams was my father, I kept the lie going for a week. They saw him from across the school gym and instantly believed me. Mostly though Robin Williams brought me laughter and joy in some of my darkest moments. And he will continue to do so.
Robin Williams impacted my life with laughter but his support of both the troops and of the children at St. Jude brought just as much joy to my life as any moment on the big screen. I loved seeing him in clips entertaining soldiers like my husband who were serving overseas (click here to watch: ABC’s “Robin Williams’ Connection to US Troops). He was also very active in the charity Stand Up for Heroes, raising money for wounded veterans. Every time I saw him with a beautiful child from St. Jude, like my daughter, it endeared him even more to me (click here to watch: Thanks and Giving Family of Stars: Robin Williams, just one of many commercials he was in to help raise money for St. Jude). He did great things in his life and yet he struggled.
I hate that depression is so taboo. I hate it because it cripples those who need help. I do not know Robin Williams personally and will not speak to his situation. He always will be a great man who had a significant impact on my own life. I will however speak of the depression that I do know of – my own. One of the reasons I choose to make my sight about finding Joy in the Everyday is to combat my own demons. I am not an expert on joy, more of a tour guide who has been walking the road in some dark places attempting to discover how to better harness that joy when it feels so fleeting at times. I struggled through postpartum with two of my three children, during my husbands first deployment I began seeing a counselor for depression, and through our journey at St. Jude I have struggled with it as well. My depression is not constant, it is seasonal, it ebbs and flows. I am still learning coping mechanisms to battle it. This blog and my writing is part of that journey.
Confessing my struggle with depression often surprises people. Perhaps it is because my daughter survived her battle with cancer, perhaps it is because I spent four years at Seminary so I should know how to lean on Christ for victory, perhaps it is because I made it through two deployments already, or perhaps it is because I worked in a church for 5 years as the Ministry Director. People do not tend to approve of flaws in ministry roles. But mostly, perhaps, it is because I do not often talk about it with those who are not in my close circle. Why? Because it is taboo. I want to be viewed as that strong Army Wife/St Jude Mom/Minister who has a smile on her face, a kind word to share, and enough strength for everyone around me. But that is not always true.
One way I have battled this journey is through the people I have surrounded myself with. Judy Davis, The Direction Diva is one of those people. She has been a constant strength, friend, and personal mentor in my journey as a Military Spouse for the last 6 years now. Earlier this year Judy and her 20 year old son, Geoffrey Davis, founded Living thru Crisis.
“As an active duty military family, the Davis’ are no strangers to crisis and work to help empower others by sharing their story of hope.
As they obtained first hand knowledge of the impact that war has on military families they developed the skills which enable them to move through the challenges brought about by suicide attempts, addiction, depression, and PTSD.“
Soldiers are daily losing their fights to PTSD. Over 22 Veterans and 1 Active Duty Soldier are lost everyday to suicide (found at StopSoldierSuicide.org). And they are not alone. Their spouses and children suffer many times in silence from the stress this war has brought on all of us. But this isn’t just something military families face, this is something that is very real and devastating throughout our society. Living Thru Crisis was founded to help these families (military and civilian). Geoffrey & Judy share their experiences to:
- Empower families (military and civilian)
- Inspire individuals in recovery from PTSD, Depression, Suicide Ideation, Addiction and more.
- Educate the military community empowering it’s leaders and offering suggestions on how to best serve and understand the unique needs of this community.
- Assist mental health advocates as well as civilian organizations, political leaders and health care professionals in understanding the challenges facing military families today.
- Provide strategies that can help today’s families as they strive to live thru crisis and become whole again.
Just this week a friend’s husband lost his battle to PTSD and I have been on my knees in tears broken for this family. But there is hope, there are miracles. This last Sunday at church the pastor spoke on Christ’s first miracle of turning water into wine. What stuck with me as we made our way home was the pastor’s description of the miracle. It was three things: intentional, community based, and divine. Christ didn’t perform his miracles in a vacuum. There was intent behind them, they were done within a community for great impact, and they required the divine.
Judy’s foundation of Living Thru Crisis offers two of those three steps. The third, the divine, is accessed through prayer and scripture. We have a direct link to the Living God. Use it.
Living Thru Crisis is intentional in offering the resources and knowledge needed to help and be helped. The resources are there not just to help the individual but to help the community around the individual. But I want you to hear first hand from Judy why her and Geoffrey are doing this, how they can help, and how you can be a part of this community that is making a difference.
Hope: So Judy tell us a little about who you are and why you and Geoffrey began Living Thru Crisis?
Judy: Thank you so much for talking about this important topic. As you know it is something that our family has firsthand knowledge about ever since our son attempted suicide in October of 2012. In talking about our experience within the military community we quickly realized that the problem of depression, suicide ideation and addiction was far more prevalent in military dependents than ever imagined. We had worked hard to move through that crisis and were able to find hope together. So in 2014 we founded LivingthruCrisis.com to share our story and provide information and hope to other military families. Mental Illness and often the addiction associated with it due to self medication have been a topic that has been stuffed under the rug for far too long; our goal is to change that. We want to help parents and their children understand that they aren’t alone, that there is help and that with the right support they too can live through any crisis that comes their way.
Hope: What would you say are some of the challenges that are unique to the spouses and children of soldiers?
Judy: I think that many military dependents feel like they need to project an image of strength and resilience that may not be there. In general many don’t want to admit they are struggling because they don’t want to add more stress to a lifestyle that is filled with constant change and chaos. I know in my son’s case the stress of deployment and constant upheaval of military life became to much, but he never let us know. Instead he disconnected from his emotions – I think because that was easier in the short term- and began down a path that almost ended his life.
Hope: I can definitely relate with those feelings. Asking for help is hard. How can others help with this? For instance how could a church minister to these specific challenges?
Judy: I think the greatest way to help others is to participate in the conversation. By sharing our story we have been able to dispel the stigma that it is weak to reach out for help and we have seen a positive impact on those struggling in our community. It’s about helping parents understand the truth of what’s really going on in our community, providing guidelines to help them understanding if their teen is at risk and then connecting them to quality resources.
Hope: You offer a number of specific programs. Could you briefly describe each of those?
Judy: Currently we offer multiple programs for both the military and civilian communities.
- Is Your Teen at Risk? Judy & Geoffrey tackle the growing crisis of suicide and addiction in our teens and provide strategies and hope for today’s families. Learn to identify if your teen is at risk and what you need to do as a parent. Understand which questions you should be asking and discover how to get the help your family needs to find hope.
- Living Thru Crisis: Giving Families A Chance to be Whole Once Again Judy along with her son share their journey through their families crisis inspiring teens and parents with the reality of addiction, suicide ideation and depression. After his suicide attempts resulted in a diagnosis of PTSD/depression/addiction, Geoffrey is successfully in recovery and works with Judy to help students and families find the hope they need. The duo share strategies and techniques that helped them work through crisis and answer questions that your family needs.
- Crisis on the Horizon: In a panel discussion format Geoffrey & Judy answer questions and help organizations, students and community leaders understand the unique challenges facing our children today. They discuss the issues facing families today and how it impacts the emotional and mental state of mind of our teens.
Hope: You also have a book coming out soon specifically for Military Spouses. Could you share a little bit about that now and how this book can specifically help us find Joy in the Everyday?
Judy: I’m so excited to have worked with Elva Resa Publishers to bring to life a resource for military spouses. It’s called Right Side Up: Find Your Way When Military Life Turns You Upside Down and it is an engaging, fun and effective tool that helps military spouses (newbie & veteran alike) navigate the constant change, stress and chaos associated with the military lifestyle. For more information visit: http://thedirectiondiva.com/rightsideup
Hope: I can not wait to read it and give one away to our readers as well! Oh and if you are not military I encourage you to still check out this book. It will make a great gift for a military spouse.
About the Author
Hope N. Griffin has been married to her soldier for 10+ years, has 3 beautiful children, and loves connecting with other military spouses. Her purpose is to find joy in the everyday and to help others do the same.
Find her here:www.HopeNGriffin.com @HopeNGriffin facebook.com/hope.griffin18