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  • Laura


How would you define teamwork? I think of teamwork as collaborating to seek a common goal (AKA, it takes a village). My therapist and I used to look at the dictionary from time to time to make sure we were on the same page. I was always very appreciative of this practice because one of my college majors was English – words had always come easily to me – but in the throes of my illness, words simply escaped me.

So, let’s look at Webster’s definition of teamwork: “work done by a group acting together so that each member does a part that contributes to the efficiency of the whole.” Synonyms include collaboration, coordination, and cooperation. So, my definition is on point.

So, you ask, what does teamwork have to do with the Beast that is suicidality? Well, a lot, actually. The Beast loves chaos and thrives on it, really. Teamwork is the antithesis of chaos – teamwork presents a unified front, whereas chaos is haphazard and disorganized.

Teamwork also indicates that someone plagued by the Beast has sought help. Although therapy with a professional is preferred, even a conversation with a friend can start teamwork in motion. It really does take a village to help someone struggling to best the Beast – seek the help of a therapist, family, and friends with the following caveat: do NOT allow naysayers and otherwise unhelpful people to be members of your team.

So, I imagine you are interested in who makes up my team exactly. First and foremost, I am forever indebted to my therapist of nearly 25 years in Topeka, KS, where I live most of the time. I also have a therapist of six years in Houston, TX, where I live part-time, who is good at helping me have perspective. My psychiatrist, also in Houston, provides invaluable med support and life observations that are on point in almost every instance. I also have an art therapist, an eating disorder therapist, a community-integration therapist, and an assorted and sundry cast of other characters who help me regularly. (Did I mention that it takes a village??)

Do many people have as large a cast as I do? No. I am fully aware that I am fortunate to afford my team. It’s not a walk in the park or a picnic in said park; rather, it’s a lot of work on my part - a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Every once in a while, I reflect and ask myself: when does this get easier? Maybe for some really lucky folks, it fully resolves. For the rest of us, we will dance with the Beast from here on out. Perhaps not as acute as it once was, but once the Beast sinks its claws in you, it tends to come up occasionally. And if it does, remember your team and seek help. Always, always seek help.

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