Before I begin….
A few days ago I learned that a friend, Eric Russel, took his own life.
This entry, and every one that I write about mental health is dedicated to his memory.
He was admired and loved by many in the local theater community and his loss was a blow to us all.
Many struggled with understanding how he came to the decision he did.
Many of us knew all too well that dark hell that leads one to such things.
For me personally, thinking of the pain our friend found himself in was heart breaking. I shed many tears as I came to grips with that.
But, as our friend Brian Moore said, “This shows that we theater folk, are indeed a family”.
As we struggle with Eric’s loss we, the artsy folk who love and admire him are banding together to ensure that something good comes from Eric’s tragedy.
As talked to turned to #stigma, I wanted to say something about that.
When I first started writing, I wanted to write something funny, and sarcastic.
That’s not what happened.
I backed out what I had written, and just started typing. None of what you are about to read was planned…it just fell out.
It was incredibly hard to type…it left me emotionally exhausted.
I think it needed to be said though.
Eric, I’m so sorry that things got that bad for you. Please know that the people who cared about you wish you nothing but the best on your journey and we fervently hope that you find the peace that escaped you in life.
And know my friend, that we, those same people will ensure that anyone speaking ill of you will learn that consequences are a thing.
And here is the blog
If you clicked on whatever link brought you here so that you could convince me that I’m wrong, don’t bother, because, as a rule, I’m not swayed by arguments put forward by insensitive idiots.
And yes…if you agree with anyone who says that suicidal people are selfish, then I just called you an idiot. If that hurts your feelings, I apologize for saying that you were insensitive.
Let’s look at the whole selfish thing..
Selfishness is being concerned, sometimes excessively or exclusively, for oneself or one’s own advantage, pleasure, or welfare, regardless of others.
That’s the definition from Wikipedia. It looks fairly accurate so we’ll go with it.
On the face of it, it reads in such a way to make people think that selfishness is bad 100% of the time.
Many of you would be surprised to learn that life isn’t like that. There are times that it 100% OKAY to be selfish…to act entirely and exclusively to further one’s self interest.
Let me give you an example:
You find yourself, alone, in the dark. You are standing at the mouth of a long, very dark tunnel. You hear awful sounds coming from it, it smells awful as well.
You try as hard as you can to see even the faintest light on the far end, but see nothing….
Even though entering the tunnel is something you must do, it causes a paralyzing fear, and emotional turmoil. You hear voices in the distance trying to reach you, trying to help.
You know that these voices have helped you in the past. You know that some of them will be always be there to help you.
But you just don’t have any strength left to reach out to them. To shout out so they can come and find you, and, if they have to, carry you through the tunnel until you can see the light, and find the strength to walk on your own.
It reaches a point where you are in too much pain, too exhausted from fighting, and you choose not to enter the tunnel and walk the path to try and find the light.
Even though it pains you greatly, letting the people behind those voices down, you silently pray that they will forgive this “one selfish act”, but after, you reassure yourself that they will not miss you, not even a little.. and then deliberately close your eyes, and escape the pain.
Imagine being in that situation and having someone say to you, “Oh, you’re just being selfish and weak!”
Would you perk up and say, “Yeah, you’re right! Life is great! Thanks Friend!” and then run to Facebook to tell everyone that your depression has been cured.
If anyone legitimately said, “Yes” to that scenario…go and…I don’t even have words…seriously…you know what…go be stupid somewhere else…
I will admit that the above blurb started off as pointing out that if you didn’t send money to your friend The Nigerian Prince, then you too were being selfish….but I backed that out and just typed….and that is what came out.
I’m sitting here at work, during my lunch, fighting back tears…because it physically and emotionally hurt to type that.
I’ll be fine….let’s move on.
The point I wanted to make is that sometimes its okay to be selfish, but I think it should be this…
Yes, sometimes people are selfish. When someone is wanting to stop an ever-present, seemingly unending pain that stems from the absolute and total loss of hope, do people really think it is at all helpful to say to them, “Hey, you’re being a selfish jerk! Think about all the people who your loss would hurt?!!”
I’ll admit that it might, but it wouldn’t last long.
If you’re the one saying that to someone who is in a deep depression and on the brink of suicide, whose really being a jerk??
Here’s what I heard when someone said something like this to me…
“Hey, I don’t really give a shit about you or your pain. I’m tired of you being depressed when you’re normally fun, but come on….how many people will be hurt if you off yourself? Oh, and yeah, I mean, I’m here if you need me, and I know I’ve said that in the past, and kinda didn’t show up when you asked for help, even though every time I’ve needed you, you were there (included the time I was broke down on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere at 3am)…..come on, lets go grab a beer or something.”
…you know who you are…and if you’re reading this…yeah, its still “Stay the fuck away from me”.
Do you get my point? I hope so because I’m tired of talking about it…and that it still needs to be said, so lets move on the weakness thing.
If you want to display an astonishing lack of understanding of what its like to suffer from a mental illness, I would suggest saying, out loud, that people who’ve reached the point where life is intolerable are ending their journey are doing so out of weakness.
I was recently trying to figure out how to tell a very dear friend how I felt about her. (this wasn’t a proclamation of undying love…not really, so don’t read anything into it).
I tend to rehearse these things, which is terrible because I always do better when I just move my mouth and let my brain do the talking…but this is one of the things I came up with..
I was going to say that I would die for you and your daughter…but dying is easy, living is hard. Instead I’ll say that I would live for the two of you.
Now that I read that I’m thinking Dayymm…that’s pretty good.
Now before the idiots among you go pointing out that I just won your argument for you, let me point out what’s obvious to everyone else.
I think its safe to say that the vast majority (I’m thinking all) of people who’ve ended their own lives didn’t do so during their first major depression.
That means there were times previous in their lives where they pushed through that black hell (which takes a great deal of strength, selflessness, and courage) and chose to fight the darkness and live.
If you saw someone climbing a mountain, carrying a pack that weighed more than they did, is there any point where, after they started their journey, they faltered, would you complain that they were weak?
Because that’s what life with depression is like.
If you want to argue, go fuck yourself, you’re not worth the effort.
I’m exhausted from typing this…..and will end this here.