You Are Not Alone: Suicide Prevention Day

Gonzo hugs Kermit (from The Muppet Show)Let’s face it. This is hard. 2020. The Pandemic. Quarantine. The Great Pause. The Times We’re In.

I haven’t been myself, especially recently. But I’ve had some good friends to call on, and I’m getting through. To be honest, I didn’t get out of bed until 11am Tuesday, and then got back in bed a half hour later for a while longer.

Eventually, I got up some energy. I managed to accomplish a few small things, and this cooling off in the weather actually perked me up. I even heard back about a potential short-term job that I’m still in the running for.

And then I wrote the following, which I shared first on two smaller stage management Facebook groups, and then the larger Year of the Stage Manager group. It’s gotten a lot of great feedback and thank yous from others feeling as down as me. Perhaps you need to hear it too:

Screenshot of a post from Erin Joy Swank to the Year of the Stage Manager: I don't know who needs to hear this, like I did, are not your job (or lack thereof). Someone cares. We care. Now brush your hair, eat something somewhat healthy, drink some water, brush your teeth (I know, that sounds like a LOT, doesn't it?)....and do something creative today, whether it's play guitar, do a craft, or just draw a doodle. Stretch a little, and exercise if you're at all up to it. It really will make you feel better, but don't worry if you're so out of shape you can't do much. Make a goal to do a little every day. You got this day. And there are a bunch of us here feeling it along with you and/or are available for an ear if needed. You are not alone. And thank you to those who are there for me. This has been a particularly hard couple of days. [I posted this earlier today on two other smaller SM groups, and given the response there decided even more of you/us need to hear it here! ❤️]

Full Disclosure: I had to laugh at myself when I saw partway through the day I had NOT brushed my hair, and even felt a little bad for my husband – though I kinda loved him for not pointing it out either. It’s why it’s included. It also took me until 10pm that night to remember to actually drink the water.

I was working up this post and didn’t actually publish it…well, two days later and it’s now World Suicide Prevention Day (and National Suicide Prevention Week). How appropriate. I know it’s an issue for a lot of people in the world right now (and every day), but particularly those of us who have been out of work for half a year, with no real end of that in sight.

Please know that there are people here for you, and people willing to listen. Here are some resources that may help you or a friend:

Behind the Scenes: Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Initiative – In addition to funding for those who work behind the scenes in live entertainment, the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Initiative provides a peer-to-peer chatting app as well as an Entertainment Industry Therapy Finder.

For those in the Denver metro area, the Denver Actors’ Fund has a new initiative that includes help for Colorado theatre artists (onstage or off) struggling with anxiety, depression and prolonged stress as the unprecedented COVID19 shutdown drags on, on a sliding fee scale.

NAMI, The National Alliance on Mental Health has a 24-hour helpline: 800-950-6264.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 has trained counselors available to speak with you 24/7 and assist in a crisis situation.

It can also be helpful to call a “warmline”—a phone number where trained volunteers offer sympathy and support. To find a warmline in your area, dial 211, or go to, for information on local social services. However, both of these support lines are often peers living with a mental health condition and are not trained crisis counselors.

Join one of many, many online gatherings for stage managers these days (the SMA lists a lot of free webinars as well as social gatherings on the Public Access page). Contact me to join the Denver/Colorado ones when posted. Heck, even if you’re not a stage manager. We got you.

I highly recommend anyone take classes in Mental Health First Aid, too. The organization I like is working to make classes available virtually. In the meantime, they have an article, “How to #BeTheDifference For People With Mental Health Concerns During COVID-19.” Even if this article isn’t directly for YOU, perhaps you can help others. Though if you’re in the entertainment industry, you’re likely struggling….struggling if you’re out of work, struggling with guilt if you’re one of the ones still with income. It’s okay. We’re all in this together, really, when it comes down to it.

Twitter can get a bad rap for being a place of pettiness and bickering….but there’s also what I like to repost as “Here’s the Twitter content you’re looking for.”

Stage Directions had a good one today:

For usually-good Twitter pick-me-ups, I recommend:

Muppet History – @HistoryMuppet, (link to a specific post no longer working, but it’s a good account to follow!)

MisterRogersQuotes – @MisterRogersSay

Finally, I really wish my Dad was still around. He was a mental health counselor, and I’ve been looking for some of his past words to see what advice he might have given me right now. His website is no longer active, so I have to look a little harder to find his words, and want to find the file folder of some of his writings. Tonight while finishing this post, I suddenly remembered he had kept a small Pinterest account, and went poking around there tonight. He didn’t have a ton that fit this particular discussion, but I’ll end with a couple of his pins that at least made me smile….

Dad’s comment was, “I have been trying to communicate this idea, but I like these words”

And finally…

Dad’s comment was, “check out for more inspiration.” So I did just now. The header on the blog says, “your friendly happiness & wellness research geek.” It’s followed by:

Your life is a sum of the habits you do most often. And so is your mood.

If you want to enjoy more happiness, success, health and love – then you gotta build up more good habits and bust the bad ones. Plus you must tap into psychological tricks to make sure a good habit sticks. LEARN HOW! Live a life you love! Enjoy inspiring lifestyle, wellness, love & success articles!

And then the current first article listed on the website is titled, “Do Loved Ones Send Signs When They Pass? Unusual Stories…” Okay. Thanks, Dad.

May you find a smile today, too, even if it’s through tears. You got this.