When my time comes
Forget the wrong that I’ve done
Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed
And don’t resent me
And when you’re feeling empty
Keep me in your memory
Leave out all the rest – Linkin Park
…If you are reading this
The Words You Never Want to Hear or Read
That simple eloquent phrase can start the beginning of what would normally be news that you didn’t want to hear. I know, because I had the immense displeasure of reading these words once and have also had the phone ring only to hear a friend saying a person was gone; they had taken their own life. You take pause, you wince, you cry, you scream out loud, or in the deep recesses of your mind. The steps of grief begin.
Mental Illness is Taboo in this Country
The terms crazy, insane, delusional, etc. have been stamped out or are only whispered inside homes and hospitals. But we see mental illness everywhere and it is not the homeless I am talking about either, it’s the person sitting across the table from you, the family member that is lying to you when they say they are doing fine, or the pal that stopped taking your calls and you gave up calling.
THAT IS THE PROBLEM!
Sinnead O’conner recently posted a video as a cry for help telling the world that mentally ill people are different; they need help. She is correct and sadly, I sat there and thought, I wonder if anyone will actually reach out to her. Will she become another statistic, another Kurt, Chris, Robin, or Chester? I sure hope not.
Are You Curious?
It makes me curious you know, this is a disease and it kills people, either by their own hand or because the drugs they take slowly eat away at their organs or deliver other horrific side effects. Diseases like Cancer or MS seem to get the best press out there. They get colored wrist bands, banners, full-page ads, athlete spokespersons, and Hollywood stars lining up for endorsement deals to express their anguish. I am not saying that these are not noble causes, for they are, but it seems that the things we can actually see, hear, and feel all around us we walk away from. Why?
Mental health or homelessness is just not sexy enough for people? No money in i, I suppose or does it hit a little too close to home for some people? I am not an expert on this subject but I have been there, I have ached inside – I have wondered at my own existence. And I know I am not alone…
My fiancée and I had broken up, I had lost my job, and my Great Uncle, a man I owe my success to and dearly loved, had just killed himself – these events all happened within thirty days. There was no safety net to catch me. As they say, “It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s that sudden stop at the end.” Depression set in: I didn’t know what that was and I had no one to turn to. I was too afraid to tell anyone I was hurting; I was wounded, alone, and afraid. After a fifth of whiskey and sitting in a chair alone in the dark with only the glow of the idiot box for warmth, thinking there is no promise of a better tomorrow – I crawled into bed with my choice. A choice.
I put the bottle to my temple, drunk, out of my mind, silence in the air, total quiet, a finger on the trigger, so to speak – ready to pull. Comfortable to go, ready to die, ready for it to end, to get to where I was going.
I didn’t. You know this because, well, you are reading this.
And I am thankful.
When You Have an Awakening
I often, too often, have to remind myself of my temper and that I, sometimes, let it get the best of me. It’s mine and I need to own it. And here I am, making that turn in life where I do not want to be an adult and really wish that could go back to bing a ten year old, running through the sprinklers on a hot Arizona day, laughing uncontrollably with friends that left me all too soon. I sought help, started writing again, and realized that it is and was going to be ok.
After I sent this to two dear and close friends I chose to open up to one of my oldest friends, a man I have known for over thirty years and told him my story. He is a great man, better than most, better than me, that’s for sure. He asked me, in a soft tone, like he often does, “Why did you not reach out or call me?” My answer, I didn’t want to burden you with my problems, man. There is the rub, as Sherlock Homes would say. Here is a man, my closest confidante and in a time of need – a time of burden – and I felt too scared to reach out. In my addled mind, I felt like it was easier to let go.
Think About the Mind, as well
We are so interested in health care that we think only of the body, not the mind. We understand what we can see, you cannot see mental health issues until you know someone in the thick of the battle and then, in that moment – during that time, too many of us just walk away. We don’t know what to do, we whisper about them, we point or laugh, we make inappropriate jokes, and it only twists the dagger. Am I guilty of this? Yes, yes I am.
I know few who are not.
Something saved me that night, God, an Angel, the sheer will to live, as a human instinct? I don’t know, don’t want to either. I just know I am here and have chosen to continue, I know I received that chance – it was a gift. There will be many people who read this and say WTF? That’s ok, I am ok, I learned things and have found my peace. Sure, I have melt downs, we all do – but I am doing them the right way, venting the frustrations to the right people, and realizing that in 100 years, I will be not only not be remembered, read, or listened too, or even considered anything other than an insignificant ant in this cog of life. Or maybe my words here will have impact and save someone who is yet to be a grandma or great grandma. Maybe.
Yeah I am having a Gilgamesh moment.
I accept that. What I am concerned about is that we are losing the poets, the bards, and the dreamers – those who were turning this ship around. We failed them, all of us; we took and took and took, until there was nothing left for them to give.
When they are gone, we wail and cry, we set up support groups for them, instead of reaching out before that person is gone to say I am here, I want to help and if I cannot, then let me point the way.
Once again, why?
If you think someone is hurting, they most likely are. Let’s not allow all this social media BS to run our lives – be human and have empathy, I know it’s hard. Life can be hard, yet it is us, as the collective good, that can reach out and work to help each other. It’s ok to reach out, to speak, to shine the light on this seemingly taboo subject we seem too afraid to speak of. All is not lost yet, and maybe this is the manifesto of my pain, not exhausted but fueled by the anguish I see and feel. I don’t want to lose anyone else, do you? We can start, right now, making a difference.
If you are reading this and you need to vent, just find me, or find someone. There is help and there are people who want to help.
I will leave you with this quote, because it was the one that I found that made me say, “Yeah, with people like this in the world I think it might be a good thing to try and stick around and say I survived and so will you.” That is the reason I am coming forward – this is the reason I write this now.
“Suicide is a serious thing. And if you know anyone who is suicidal, you need to get them help. No one should be in pain. Everyone should love themselves.” Gerard Way