Saturday, July 22, 2017

Wooden Birdhouses, In Somewhere Near the End, and Vera

Trigger/Content Warning (TW/CW): the following blog post contains mentions of suicide, online bullying, mental illness, and ableism. Reader discretion is advised.

Note: This, That, and Vera does not condone nor condemn suicide. If you or a loved one is in danger of committing suicide, by any and all means, seek help from a trusted source. If family or friends are not trusted, reach out to emergency personnel immediately. Mental illness kills, but it doesn't have to kill you.



Every generation has had at least one voice in their prime to echo the sentiments of its people. Most, if not all, of them won't have their voice fully heard until they have died, however.

The Baby Boomers lost quite a few between 1969 and 1971: Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison to name a few.

The members of Generation X were dealt with a significant blow with the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994.

And in this past year, Xennials (folks who were born during the years most experts would chronicle Generation X and Millennials, anywhere between 1978 to 1982; I would be considered an Xennial) lost a triad of voices that expressed the raw emotions of existence: Chris Cornell, Amy Bleuel, and most recently, Chester Bennington.

The last four names I have mentioned (Cobain, Cornell, Bleuel, and Bennington) have died from some form of suicide (hanging or use of a gun on their own person).

All four of these folks left behind families and loved ones. These four talked openly and honestly about their demons, whether it was drugs, alcohol, childhood abuse, rape, molestation, bullying, or anything else that was fought against. They reached out to folks about their conditions, received help numerous times, and were supported by adoring fans. And yet, after it was all said and done, all four individuals had succumbed to a disease that forces the body to injure and/or kill itself.

What disturbs me the most about these four deaths isn't how they died; it's how some members of the online community have taken to account that their acts of suicide are "selfish".
  • "These children no longer have a father."
  • "Their spouse is now widowed."
  • "They all this money and power and fame and they threw it all away."
  • "Why didn't they reach out for help?"
  • They didn't suffer as much as our (US military) veterans; our veterans are in a completely different category of suicide."
And the most damning of them all:
  • "Since they killed themselves, they're now in Hell because Jesus Christ won't accept them into Heaven."
SERIOUSLY. WHAT THE FUCK.

Look, the mental health community has tried to educate online opinionists (also see: trolls) with comparing "an invisible" disease (like major depressive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, or paranoid schizophrenia for example) to "a visible" disease (like muscular dystrophy, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, or various forms of cancer). So far, it hasn't worked.

Just take a gander at what fellow rock stars had to say about Chester's passing. Troll food.

So, I'm going to bust out my soapbox, and I'm going to use this platform to go in on online opinionists who believe that folks who commit suicide are "cowardly" or "selfish".
  1. Since when did people become so concerned about someone's children after said someone committed suicide? Yes, the fact that six children no longer have a father is awful and heart wrenching. Now, what about the children who do have fathers, or even mothers or non-binary parents, who are still alive but refuse to see their children for whatever reason? Those children didn't have "a father" for various points in time and there is no public outrage over them; just a sadistic outcry over trolls having to "pay for someone else's children." I have no idea what kind of fucked up community these trolls come from, but they should be expelled from this great nation of ours, simply because they don't believe in helping one another, regardless of circumstance.
  2. The veterans who served proudly for our country are in the same category as other folks who commit suicide, whether trolls like to admit that or not. THEY. COMMITTED. SUICIDE. What caused them to commit suicide is irrelevant; the fact that these people were in so much internal pain caused by a debilitating neurological disease that they felt the only way out of their suffering wasn't through prayer, or medicine, or "talking it out," or being laid up temporarily in an institution (trust me, I know), or thinking about their families, but rather through ending their pain via ending their life. 
  3. And since when did committing suicide made you "selfish" or "cowardly"? Did it occur in the public forum when Kurt Cobain shot himself? The only way to make that straw man argument work is to bring in one simple aspect: murder. Did someone commit murder (or someone other heinous crime) prior to their suicide? If so, then yeah; that's one way of not owning up to your actions. But outside of that, in your own mind you are in the total and absolute belief (real or perceived) that without you in this moment, your family will be better off because they don't have to watch you suffer and therefore having to suffer themselves. Mental illness will cause the brain to turn on itself and therefore turn on its host (the body) to making it believe that someone is useless, hopeless, and therefore helpless, to the world. Not even a simple punctuation symbol, that would become the logo of many a tattoo across the world, could save the life of Bleuel from her own disease.
  4. Is suicide a choice? It depends on who you ask. For me, suicide is a choice. However, suicide is a choice that I do not take lightly. Between wanting to die from suicide or wanting to live, I choose to want to live. Again, not a light choice to make, because it means that I have something left in me to continue, day after day, to live in the pain that I wrestle with. After numerous failed attempts (or successfully unable) to commit suicide myself, somehow I rise up and get back on my feet. Not everybody has this ability, meanwhile. This ability transforms itself into a proverbial double-edged sword: I don't know how I am able to overcome whatever is thrown my way, but at the same time I don't want to know how I am able to. For the benefit of humankind, I should explore myself to see what it is that makes me emerge like a phoenix after every crisis. On the other hand, if I do find out, my own demons will make the diseases I suffer from that much greater and much harder to overcome.
  5. And fer G-d's sake: keep religion out of this. Just because someone commits suicide, doesn't mean that they're bad people and are going to Hell because of it. This is an example of a mentality trolls use to make loved ones of suicide victims feel worse than better. Another example trolls use is to say that folks who commit suicide are "weak." If that's the case, then said trolls who go under handle-style user names with avatar photos not of themselves are the weakest humans of all. These assholes can sit behind a computer screen and type all of the bullshit, but would never (AND I MEAN NEVER) come up to you, face to face, and say the exact same things in person. That's a prime example of being "weak" and "a coward" if I ever saw one.
  6. Finally, when was the last time you asked for help? Was it recently? Maybe a few years ago? But most importantly, did you actually receive the help? Was it what you needed? Maybe it was close enough? Have you ever been to a point where you can't figure something out that you need to seek resources to help with whatever you're working on or dealing with?
Imagine that you are working on building a wooden birdhouse for someone, but can't figure out how to make the pieces stay together without compromising the stability of the wood. You decide to reach out by visiting your local hardware store. They have some tips, but they send you on your way empty handed. Next, you try one of those big box hardware stores. You're being pressured to purchase numerous items to complete the construction of the wooden birdhouse. Some of the items are great in value, but they have serious consequences if they are used improperly, or worse, have a serious adverse effect to the wood or its pieces parts to the point of disintegration. In the end, all the shiny whistles and secure interlocking pieces are not the answer to how to keep this wooden birdhouse intact without infrastructure compromise. Finally, as a last resort, you ask your friend who works in a woodworking shop for help on your wooden birdhouse dilemma. He says that he's busy at the moment, but will get back to you as soon as he can. He also says to check out some online video tutorial about woodworking, you know, to help you "get better." 

To recap, you went to three different routes to seek the same help and was not given the proper help you needed. And now the wooden birdhouse just sits there, not entirely put together, looking a bit crestfallen. The whimsical finches and the dastardly blue jays are not visiting this birdhouse because it's not a completed structure. No matter how much weather resistant paint you coat the birdhouse, no matter how much bird seed and water you supply the birdhouse with, it just sits there, on a ledge of your wooden deck, not even hanging off of a pole, broken and lonesome. 

And then, the thought hits you like a baseball bat smacking a ball into home run territory; just scrap the damn birdhouse. It was never worth putting together anyways, you kept on working on it because you wanted to. So now the question becomes: do you keep on fighting, or do you destroy it? Can't you just buy that someone a wooden birdhouse since you're not good at building the one you have? Does that mean even want a wooden birdhouse? Maybe they want a stainless steel red wagon, or a PVC pipe to complete one of their own projects.

Now, the wooden birdhouse is actually you, in real life. The "you" in this scenario is the circumstances you were given throughout your life, regardless how good or bad they were. The local hardware store is a phone number to a regional suicide hotline. The big box store is a psychiatric ward of a local hospital, and all the items they push on you are the medications you need to function on a daily basis, regardless of how effective or how affordable they are. The woodworking buddy of yours is actually your best friends who take to social media to post phone numbers to various suicide hotlines, you know, because they "are busy at the moment" in actually helping you when you need it, only to help when it's at their convenience. The finches and blue jays are loved ones not knowing how to help you with your life. The bird seed and the water are the coping skills that you use to get by through the day. The deck is the world around you. The weather resistant paint is the smile you put on your face when you are crying in pain internally. The red wagon and PVC pipe are people who you think are of greater value than you are.

That is what people who are suicidal deal with when faced with that damning choice.

And if the online opinionators can't understand that scenario, then may they never have to deal with the hurt, grief, and anguish that mental illness can cause, or even having to face suicide themselves.

No one should have to have suicide as a choice. The simple fact that this world is barbaric enough to eat up its young through bullying, fentanyl, and polarization of socioeconomic and political binaries is enough to make anyone want to proverbially turn the lights out at home.

Just remember this, even if it you think it doesn't apply to you:

I believe in you.

I love you.

You are valid, in every single way.

You got this, even for this single solitary moment.

I empathize with your struggles.

Even if your own parent(s), child(ren), sibling(s), or other family members don't want anything to do with you because of who you are, I do.

From the song, "One More Light," by Linkin Park, the band that Chester Bennington was a lead singer of, I offer you these lyrics as a token of my appreciation for you and a closing to this post.

"If they say
Who cares if one more light goes out?
In a sky of a million stars
It flickers, flickers
Who cares when someone's time runs out?
If a moment is all we are
We're quicker, quicker
Who cares if one more light goes out?
Well I do"

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