Interaction – Could It Turn Sad Into Glad

I was really sad to read about Rhonda Elkin’s death on August 29, 2014 on Uncle Spikes Adventures a couple of days ago, she wrote the blog ‘My Bright Shining Star’ , a blog about her feelings over the suicide of her 23 year old gifted daughter Kaitlyn who was a third year medical student.



In her blog post of August 26, 2014, entitled “One Day When I Die,” Rhonda wrote:

Rhonda Elkins

       “At least on my dying day, if I have time to think before I go, I will have known that though I have not done great feats in this world I have no doubt that I did do some of the most important things a person can do; I have loved my children, my husband and family with all my heart and did the best I could for them, though I was far from perfect. Love has always been given freely in my house. I have loved my family. And I have written this book and if one person can be saved from it, it will have served its purpose. But I hope my book spurs on more action in some way.”

Karen Brown posted this message on Rhonda’s memorial Facebook which I wanted to share with you here.

Rhonda wrote on August 26th 2014 :  “I’m disturbed by all suicides. This is such a problem in our society now. Something is so very, very wrong. But what I want to write about tonight is the alarming rate of medical student, resident, and physician suicide that seems like an epidemic now.” .

One of the reasons I stopped commenting on Rhonda’s blog posts was that I just didn’t know what to say to help and to use the ‘like’ button on an upsetting post somehow seemed wrong.  I asked Rhonda once if Kaitlyn’s friends could have spotted her depression and done anything whilst she was at University, she explained that Kaitlyn had covered up her depression from everyone, even her closest friends.

Whilst reading through her last posts my mind flicked to this article I read in the Guardian about a month ago about drink and drug addictions impacting on the lives of classical musicians.  In the article a cellist says that “addiction is blighting the lives of many classical musicians as they grapple with performance anxiety and antisocial hours”.  There was a C4 documentary called ‘Addicts Symphony’ about a project lead by composer James McConnel whose gifted son Freddy took a fatal heroin overdose in 2011.


I do feel that we should have more healthy activities to participate in as a group of musicians, bigger universities have sports activities such as ultimate Frisbee, football, badminton and ballroom dancing, these are just a few examples of several clubs that my brother Toms participated in this week.

Ultimate Frisbee

Even smaller institutes could have yoga clubs, dance classes and socials close by that don’t revolve around drinking. I tried to get a salsa class up and running in my first year but the take up was too low to continue sadly.  Schedules are also difficult as practice times run late into the evening, every time I start an external dance class my rehearsals interfere with lessons and I have to stop.  I’m quite a determined person though so I always find solutions that work for me like using a swimming pool in a hotel nearby or taking an early morning yoga class at 07:30 but that gets difficult on cold, wet mornings as they’re half an hours walk away or going for a jog with some friends can help.


49 thoughts on “Interaction – Could It Turn Sad Into Glad

  1. When a bright young career is ended by illness or accident or even murder, it is tragic, but somehow suicide seems extra horrific. The shock is somehow greater, especially if it hasn’t been accompanied by addiction, mixing with ‘wrong’ types or anything like that. Not even, in fact, a record of depression. Is it something wrong with society, or can anyone suddenly tip over to a point where life doesn’t seem worth it?
    There should be one rule for exercise – one should have fun doing it. That’s why I fancy climbing, riding, paddle skis and so forth.

    1. When I first read about Kaitlyn I found it hard to get my head around I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and people can tell how I am just looking at my face .
      That’s why I love dancing so much it doesn’t seem like exercise to me at all but I was so fit and could eat and eat to my heart’s content when I danced so much.

      Best wishes

  2. The problem of alcoholism and drug abuse among students, regardless of their field of study is the problem of passion! passionless work becomes a burden, and turns to obsession and can not see anything else around. Obsession is black, devouring ice. Passion is bright cheerful and nourishing. It makes people believe that that succeed are obsessed work, but the obsession leads to depression, passion leads to light. And sharing your passion and do that this does not prevent you to have other activities alongside the songs and even a family vacation, you show a beautiful example of life !!! Do not change!

    1. It has made me think Annette, I flit around like a butterfly because of the nature of what I do, I believe I’m a good confident because I’m not a big gossip but the thought that a friend or colleague was so deeply depressed they considered taking their own life and I hadn’t noticed would bother me but from what I’ve read below it seems the signs are well covered up.

      Best wishes

  3. All this reminds me of Robin Williams who recently took his own life. He was multi-talented but very troubled. If only someone could have intervened and helped him.

    Thank you for sharing and showing your kind heart. Blessings to all those who are troubled and in need. xo

    1. I don’t know whether suicide is on the increase or it just seems that way Janice, I’m not even sure if it’s mainly a Western problem. I don’t know anyone that works in that area of medicine either but something seems very wrong to me.

      Best wishes

  4. I am without an answer to this terrible problem. Addiction is the thief of so many lives and is hard to solve on any but an individual basis. The same can be said of suicide. Support from others and their vigilance is the only remedy in most cases. Sad that this woman is gone.

    1. I only have an occasional drink to be sociable, part of the problem I believe in the UK anyway is that one of the only ways to socialise in a group of friends as a teenager is to go to house parties which usually involves drinking or from eighteen go to the pub and the only soft drink alternatives are usually cola, full sugar lemonade or really expensive none alcoholic cocktails! I’m sad for her mother, daughter and husband.

      Best wishes

  5. I am surprised to know that medical related careers have such problem increasing. That is very sad to hear.

    Fitting exercise into your early morning is tough indeed.

    1. I was surprised to read about medical related careers, the people I know that are studying medicine are just so bright and as teenagers were outgoing, fun-loving, caring people who studied so hard to get a university place because most of them need three A grades to get on the course.

      Best wishes

  6. I too have issues with the like button on social media. At times it just seems so unfitting to press it.

    As far as the more pressing issue, I really do not have a good answer. I have seen addiction and illness strike some very talented people. Some appear to be stable but behind the curtain lies unhappiness and a void that the person struggles to fill.

    Sadly, people fail to understand how much impact they have on others. We are left with the pieces.

    1. I like August Landscapes answer to this below. Bloggers sometimes get despondent if they think readers don’t appreciate their posts I know a few that have stopped for that reason which is also sad.

      This curtain or mask seems the biggest hurdle and you’re right it’s the people left behind who suffer.

      Best wishes

  7. I worked in the mental health field for over 15 years. One of the social workers I knew who did counselling lost his son to suicide. He did not see it coming at all. Nor do many others who lose someone to suicide. No one need blame themselves for not seeing what others, even professionals, can’t see. And, at times, even the person who takes their own life doesn’t see it coming as it can suddenly appear as a reaction to unconscious anxiety.

    As to the “like” button… I think it should be taken as “I like you.” Or, “I feel empathy for you at this upsetting time.” It is not a button that once pressed means you like to see someone suffer.

    As to addictions and musicians, it’s a fact that the very active often find themselves feeling very empty when they stop their activity, even for a little while. If they just accept this emptiness it will pass. But all to often the feeling of emptiness prompts them to other activity that leads to other activity so when they do stop the emptiness is so intense they turn to drugs or alcohol. All because they can’t stand to be alone with their self.

    It may be difficult to grasp, but don’t be afraid of emptiness. Think of it this way. As a singer, you know that it is the pauses, the empty moments between notes, that give the song it’s beauty and meaning.

    1. Drugs and alcohol are only a cover up of a more sinister problem. We must seek to be a friend indeed to someone who may be fighting their inner demons that try to push them over the cliff. Just an encouraging word can be the difference in helping someone overcome a thought sent from the devil to take their life. Remember the thief came to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus came that we may have life, and that more abundantly.

    2. I really appreciate your post AL it really helped me. I don’t let much emptiness in but that is a lovely final message, I have been learning to pause to enjoy some time off this summer.

      Best wishes

  8. I can only remind anyone that we can only remember the gravity of other’s feelings…and yet at heart we can not stop all bad occurences only do our best to hold forth a place for others to want to be. that said it’s a good thing you try to occupy yourself with more things than the heavy silences 😀 that too is a way to hoy.

  9. Charlotte, your commentaries are very well written, informative and interesting. You have a great talent in that area as well as with your musical abilities.

    Depression and suicide are intricate, complicated topics, unique to each individual’s situation. Perhaps that is what makes it so difficult for others to discover, understand or accept them.

    The Maya Angelou quote proves true. Thinking back through life’s many scenarios, it is always someone’s simple kindness that is most memorable. And most appreciated.

    Wonderful post.

  10. I suspect it’s a problem common to most areas of study where total committment is called for – it tends to make people lose perspective, which is never a good thing.

    As for the “Like” button, I sometimes wish they’d change it to “Hear Hear” or “Quite So” or something like that. Or allow people to mark a post as one where “likes” are not appropriate and have the “like” button renamed for those posts.

  11. I know what you mean with the “Like” button. In all seriousness, I play video games almost every night for about two hours to keep me from stressing about certain aspects of life.

    It feels like we talk about so many things, especially in the news, magazines, social media. Even dating is through online sites. But then, there are these important issues that no one talks until it’s forced on us for a little while.

    More balance is needed between work and life. Less talk about fashion, celebrities, reality TV, etc. in society. Time to face all the elephants in the room.

    1. My brothers both like video games, I just never got into them other than Wii sports 🙂 it’s good if you’ve found a way to wind down.
      I always try to do what I enjoy and I enjoy a bit of me time, never losing focus but I enjoy a pamper Charlotte afternoon. I don’t watch much tv and when I do it’s lighthearted American sitcoms whilst I’m eating breakfast.
      All the best Eric
      Charlotte 🙂

  12. It most certainly is food for thought and the creative process is such a strange one, for everyone. After all, we are all creative in our own ways. I think balance and space are starting points. For example I’ve spent part of the last two weeks trying to figure out my new balance. Having launched my poetry book on Sept 12th I suddenly found myself in a new place, and it was almost as if the book was trying to take over me, it’s certainly part of me but just like my illness, it’s not me. And so I’ve had to create space between us and now, slowly I can view it as a separate entity, the promotion, the readings, etc they are all “there” and I’m “here”. If that makes sense. It’s easy to become consumed in anything, be it TV, books, fashion etc. and so space is needed to create that balance and keep us focused on what is really important to us. And Love most certainly is THE most important entity in this world of ours. Something we must pass on, and continue to live in, with, by. x

    1. Keep writing for in that is healing for the soul. People with mental illness need all the encouragement they can get, and the Holy Spirit will give you just the words needed to bring comfort to a hurting soul.

      1. Thanks for the good wishes. As for moments of chaos, we should be grateful we can breathe and turn to someone we love and trust. Kind words breathe life. x

  13. Many people’s addictions begin as self-medicating solutions to depression. I agree with you that healthier choices can help, but for some the depression is too strong even for that. I think there is too much stigma in our society against getting help for mental illness, so people avoid or self-medicate rather than seek out the help they need. Sorry to hear about your friend.

    1. I wonder how much a doctor can help too with 5 and 10 minute appointment slots where you’re very aware there’s a room full of people waiting behind you and a doctor whose different every time you go, it can’t be easy to ask that stranger for help. Self medicating is no answer though.
      Best wishes

    1. August Landscapes above gave me a new way of looking at ‘like’ above in response. Showing support is important as long as it’s seen as support and not a liking of bad news someone’s felt the need to share.
      Best wishes

  14. This is one of the reasons I ride: it’s good for both my physical and mental health. Plus I’ve made some great friends that way. I think it’s important to have a healthy way to unwind and relieve stress, as well as a group of people (or at least one person) you can talk to about any problems you may be dealing with. It helps tremendously.

  15. The worst thing about suicide is all the victims it leaves behind — the angry, depressed family and friends who become consumed with their own guilt, depression and anger. It creates such a sad, vicious, cycle. From what I read, it sounds like Rhonda has also taken her own life, which is doubly sad, considering what happened to her own daughter. I wouldn’t feel guilty for not “liking” her posts more often. People don’t commit suicide due to lack of friends and lack of social contact – just look at Robin Williams. This poor lady (and her daughter) had severe depression and probably needed very intense therapy. The real shame is probably that there’s still such a stigma attached to seeking treatment for mental illness.

    1. I agree Lynn we need to remove the stigma, perhaps the movies could address it in a none glamorous way, they certainly lose enough talented people through it and addiction Heath Ledger, Robin Williams the guy who was in Mission Impossible.
      Best wishes

  16. Gosh, Charlotte, such a powerful post. Your compassion and sensitivity shine through in all your worlds that you share with such generosity on this blog. So moving. Thank you.

    1. To be honest Marcus it’s such a difficult thing and hard for me to get my head around still, her Mother, Husband and surviving Daughter caught up in a spiral they couldn’t end but reading my blog friends comments has been very helpful. There’s a lot of tragedy in Opera there’s not always the happy ending perhaps when they were written it was the writers way of dealing with their dark thoughts?
      Best wishes

  17. This is such an important subject (and is the main issue in the novel I have just written). I think you are right that external activities, especially dance, are about the best way of helping to counteract depression – and good fun in whatever circumstances. When it is too cold an miserable to go out, meditation is a great way of getting a little calm. My daughter has just got me started at I have done the free 10-day course and signed up for a year. I feel the benefit already.

    1. I’m looking forward to reading ‘Border Line’ . I must try meditation, I’ve just read about meditation through hypnotism on another blog, I’ll check out headspace it might be useful this week.
      Best wishes

  18. Such a difficult subject to talk and write about but we need to do it and I honour you in that you have brought it to our notice. The activities that you mention are all good at creating the pheromones that make us feel better and happier. Even walking a short distance helps. Once depression strikes however, it is difficult for some depressed people to get out of bed/the house etc and the thought of more effort is just too difficult for them to contemplate. Some depressed people find the effort of pretending to be well so great that they won’t risk being seen out of their home in case anyone speaks to them. My eldest daughter is bi-polar as I think you know and before she was given the correct medication she would spend long periods in deep depression and I was in constant fear that she might attempt suicide as she often told me that she felt that her life was not worth living. I was glad that she didn’t pretend to me all the time but it was awful to hear her say these things. The ignorance about depression and the different types of mental illness in the medical profession itself is amazing and my daughter was very badly treated by professionals who should have known better. Also, anyone can set themselves up as therapists with little to no training in mental health so a lot of care should be given when looking for help. This is not easy to do when depressed. Sorry to be so gloomy but this is what we have found.

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