|Posted on April 24, 2019 at 1:05 AM||comments (0)|
Before I begin, I would like to dedicate this blog to Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania 2019: Danielle DeAngelis. Hearing your story for the first time, at this year's local NAMI Conference, and being able to connect with you one-on-one there as well were exceptionally inspiring. Your grace and courage touched my heart. I hope I shared with you the best of mine. Remember; whenever you take off your crown you will always have your halo.
Bless. Your. Heart.
"God, it seems like a thousand years ago that I fought my way back from suicide twice, became an advocate, realized I still believed in love. I know I probably don't deserve any miracles, but I was really hoping to find you while I'm still here."
(adapted from Robert Downey Jr., Avengers: Endgame trailer #2)
[With the following background movie trailer music: Really Slow Motion & Giant Apes - Imminence]
Since I ended the last blog entry with a lot of honesty about what my mental health is like right now, I wanted to begin this conclusion in poetic fashion to set the tone. Optimism and pessimism aside, at the end of the day mental health is what it is to deal with. We are all human and deserve a chance to find genuine happiness in our lives. There was one detail about my progress with treatment I intentionally withheld until now. It is something that can happen and may be challenging, but unexpected to deal with.
Setbacks can occur at any time during the progress of treatment. Between late February into early March (psychiatry) and just recently in mid-April (case management), I encountered setbacks of my own. Certain medications might not work for you. Not everyone may start or be on the same page. Sometimes people on your treatment team move on before you feel ready to continue forward. Do not despair. Even though when my case manager moved on a couple weeks ago I took it pretty hard, to be honest. We were so like-minded it was unreal (she was awesome).
Do not give up.
Life will throw you a curve ball when you least expect it. You will make mistakes when you may be least prepared not to. I often experience intrusive (anxiety) thoughts that something bad will happen to my parents before I move out. Or to my relatives, friends, and others I care about. People have shamed me for speaking my mind (this gets old quickly) even though I always work towards a positive point of view. Your life could turn upside down and tie itself in a knot, or it might already feel that way for you right now. One thing will never change. You still own this moment. You still have a chance and the choice to take control of your life at any time.
“So, I remind myself, I can do this. I can choose life. I should choose it. I am meant to be here. I own this moment, same as any of you can, too. I can live my life and advocate for people like me.” Jim Irion, Things I've Learned from Advocating For Mental Health (10-11-2018).
“Living with mental illness is possible just as advocating for awareness is too.” Jim Irion, Facing Discrimination While Advocating (11-1-2018).
You can even stare feeling-ready-to-die in the face for over five to six years, as I have... and still have what it takes to live your life. You can do this. You are possible.
“The world has changed. None of us can go back. All we can do is our best. And sometimes the best that we can do is to start over.” -Hayley Atwell, Peggy Carter (Avengers: Endgame trailer #2).
I will do everything I can to take my voice to higher levels. As each week, month, and year passes by, I find out about people of all ages and backgrounds who unfortunately lose all hope and give up their fight to survive. Just how many people whether in your own community, province, state, or of notoriety? Too many. Way too many for it not to hurt me with every single one...
"I have seen all these people die.
We lost, all of us. We lost friends. We lost family. We lost part of ourselves. For some of us this is the fight of our lives."
(adapted from the Avengers: Endgame film trailers).
Enough. Is. Enough. Stigma has to stop. Bullying needs to end. Hate needs to be erased. All hate. Not just along racial or political lines. Suicides need to be prevented. Not for my sake. Not for my future. For their sakes. Forgive them all. Those who have gone before us deserve better. If we love them, then for their sake take a look in the mirror. Or go outside. Take a good look at the ground and the sky. Promise them you will not let their suffering and sacrifice be for nothing.
Stigma against suicide attempt survivors needs to stop. We are not a danger to anyone. True suicide victims and attempt survivors just want genuine happiness in their lives like most everyone else. Research has proven we can be some of the most unbelievably selfless and deeply caring people you may ever meet or know. We carry the burden of knowledge that l;fe matters. Why haven't I moved on?
"People keep telling survivors to move on. Some do, but not me.
Even if there’s a small chance, I owe this to every moment of silence to try."
(adapted from the Avengers: Endgame film trailers).
“Whatever it takes.” -Robert Downey Jr. (my hero!), Tony Stark (Avengers: Endgame trailer #2).
No matter who you are. No matter what your situation was, is, or will be. No matter where you live. No matter when you read this message. Why? "It matters how you are treated. Part of the journey is the beginning. You own this moment. It is never too late. You can do this." Jim Irion, Mental Health Advocate, surv;ving warr;or, NAMI member & trained "In Our Own Voice" Presenter.
And for all of the suicide attempt survivors out there trying their hardest - every - single - day - and giving their lives all they've got... This is for You.
"Our very courage invites challenge. Challenge incites fear. Fear breeds stigma. We are not hopeless because we've tried to give up.
Any day can be an endgame for us.
Yet here we are.
With nothing but our hearts, our courage, and still al;ve.
So stay and l;ve.
The world is chang;ng.
They need surv;vors.
Before my time comes, you have one promise to keep. If we can't prevent suic;de, be damned sure you'll f;nish what I've started.
(adapted from the Avengers: Endgame film trailers).
“#BeHereTomorrow and every day after that.” Kevin Hines.
“Let me be the inspiration that runs through your ve;ns.” J;m Ir;on.
|Posted on March 19, 2018 at 1:05 AM||comments (0)|
<<Be advised: this blog entry does get intense and is rather long>>
I do not feel that the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War movie, and the trailers for it, have been conveniently arranged to happen right now in my life. Besides, I am not that special. It simply seems, to me, that the timing does feel somewhat like it was meant to be. As if a theme of things happening for a reason was somehow intentional to fit my life right now. I am just not sure if I will make it through the complex course of whatever will happen during this and next year. Or beyond, for that matter. Break it down however simple that you wish, but unfortunately my outlook is still the same. It will be the same until I manage to get through it. That is the nature of the time-related anxiety I experience. Queue again Hi-Finesse's Disintegration song.
From Avengers: Infinity War, what does Thanos symbolize to me in my life right now?
Thanos is the personification of my future...
A future that, for at least eighteen dreadful years to be fair since high school, I have gradually felt less and less that I belong here. Heck, I was ready to give up in 2003. What do I have hope for? What am I living for? What do I believe in anymore? Why am I still here? Think about it. Nearly two decades of only being able to believe in one week ahead of my life... And I've had fairly good physical health for all those years. Even despite advocating and volunteering locally for over the past year, which has been guiding me towards a positive path if not for the aimless direction of my mental health recovery.
A lack of acceptance from women and dozens of failed attempts at finding just one true love that I have longed for so much. Such humble companionship that I often feel I cannot live without. Yet, here I am. Somehow. A lack of social acceptance beginning with being bullied so much in high school by kids then, a number of adults since, and as recently as a matter of days ago by someone older than me. No, it was not my parents. Things that I should just not remember, but I do. Often being left out of social circles for reasons that I may never figure out, because not everyone has a spouse or a family of kids and a job that consumes their daily lives.
It could not be because of a lack of political acceptance, right? A growing problem I have seen unfolding, since the 2016 US Presidential election, with a rise in bullying behavior as well as the use of more blatant stereotyping and prejudice. The exact same kind of behavior that should have died by the end of the Civil Rights era for how corrosive it is to people. Yet, oppressive stigma continues. Not to mention the confrontational intolerance of more conservative views by the self-proclaimed faux-resistance movement. I fear what other respectfully minded people who do prefer to get along with others have to deal with... I really do.
I do not have the luxury, or the bloody privilege, of perceiving my life through the mind of someone who is always optimistic because of my life experiences and mental illness symptoms. Especially when you consider all of the stigma that there is in society anymore. I do not get to live a normal life, and that does go well beyond anything with mental health. Yet, you do not see me self-proclaiming other people to have optimistic privilege. I choose not to stereotype people because I am not in this to make enemies. I am advocating for mental health awareness because I want to do what I can to help people.
Being judged by my skin color, my sexual orientation, or both of those and my gender too. For how my parents worked their butts off as I grew up and provided the best they could compared to others who feel I personify skin-colored privilege. I use whatever influence I may have or to donate and volunteer for other people. I drive a Subaru, but I worked hard for it and make payments to establish credit that I still haven't been able to use because of my debilitating career indecision. I happen to be in my mid-thirties as well. Young to some, old to others, and creepy to too many people who do not even know me fairly. What do these stereotypes, being so comparative, or the fearful social stigma accomplish? Very little if anything at all.
I try to live to defy the labels that society constantly tries to define me with. The only ones that stick the longest are the truest: compassion, forgiveness, respect, dignity, and humility. Not hatred, for one, or selfishness. Remember who said he had a dream? Remember who forgave his accusers despite already being condemned to death?
I do not care if you are a Muslim. I do not care if you are not a Christian. I do not care if you are an African American. I do not care if your skin color is the same or different than mine. I do not care if you are a woman or a man. I do not care if you consider yourself as the same, or different, sexual orientation or gender identity than I do. I do not care if you vote Democrat, Independent, or Republican in United States elections. I do not care if you are rich or poor. I do not care if you have tattoos or piercings. I do not care if your hair color is any color. And I do not care if you have or haven't personally suffered from mental illness. Should I go on? All of you matter, anyway, and I would bend over backwards for you if only for being treated with respect.
I do not care of the differences that society indoctrinates us to divide ourselves by.
So why does social stigma continue? I do not compare myself to anyone because I know what this is like. I do not consider myself beneath or above anyone. I just care about everyone, except me. Yet, I have seen it reported that people who identify with the LGBTQIA+ community are "two or more times more likely to experience a mental health condition..." (which is understandable and important to address). Except for what the rest of that statistic says, "... than straight individuals" because of being more oppressed.
Are you serious?
Suddenly comes that terribly comparative stigma, which belittles more people by their sexual and gender identity and assumes one person's oppression is cause for putting someone else beneath them. In my humble opinion, it is a mistake to compare one person's oppression to another when the important thing is to root out oppression in the first place. Stop teaching and encouraging such division, for crying out loud. Stigma and oppression know no bounds and at the end of the day they hurt us all very much. So why does social stigma continue?
Sooner or later, people need to be encouraged to rise above the stigma of being a victim if there is to be any chance for stigma to begin fading away. That is why I don't want anyone's pity or sympathy. This is not about blame as much as it should be about empowerment. Genuine empowerment. Working together. Helping each other. Not slighted one way or the other. I want to empower the heck out of all of you! Genuine empowerment is like chicken soup for the soul and it sure beats picking on someone who probably has had a difficult life as it is.
We all matter and we all have only one chance, one life to live. For some people it is too unfairly short. A pre-teenage child who has hung themselves by suicide, terminal cancer patients too late for the cure to prolong their meaningful lives, or the life of a precious unborn child. I do not have the luxury of pretending to feel like social stigma is not a problem, because for much of my life I have had to face an identity crisis of my will to live that few people accept. Still. I have struggled to find acceptance for whether I belong here or deserve my life at all. I weep when I think what the people who do not have the strength or opportunity to stand up for themselves have to endure in their lives...
Why have my symptoms seemed so resistant to treatment? How have I become so stubbornly my own worst enemy? Social stigma. A society so judgmental that I can scarcely turn a corner feeling accepted for the person that I am in this life, especially because I am a heterosexual, light-skinned, male. Most times I can't even hold onto what little acceptance I believe in at all. There are several people close to me who have helped make a bigger difference in my life lately, but only temporarily.
The Avengers: Infinity War movie feels so strongly identifiable for me because I feel like I am in the midst of a war too. We all are. A war with ourselves, as I am in a war with myself. Both have been brutal... Sooner or later, the tide of social stigma has got to stop. For everyone. Until that day comes, you can count on me finding my voice again and raising my voice for the sake of other people who cannot. You can count on me sacrificing myself without caring what happens to my mind, my body, my pocket book, or my soul.
I know what it's like to lose.
To feel so desperately that I'll make it, but to fear and believe that I'll die all the same.
I've dreaded my future.
I've run from my future.
Right here, right now, these next several months, I have to face it. Buried deep down on the inside, I am scared. I don't know what my life will be six months to a year from now. I really don't. And I never have. Yet, I am not dying from anything physical either. Pardon my choice of words, but for years my outlook on the future has scared the s*** out of me. For the lack of acceptance and female companionship as well as all of the things in my life right now to be considered (I know admitting this will not be perceived well)... Guess what? You want honesty? You want reality?? Here, have at it.
Do you wanna know what I have on my unofficial Last Will & Testament for the last five years, and have not once yet considered removing it? A DNR order; a do-not-resuscitate order, which means if I am injured or from failing health I am not to be revived. And in my own words not even if I can be saved. It isn't because of lingering between life and death as a lot of people seem to celebrate a DNR for. I do not want to be brought back. Not even now. Not yet. Kinda sticks in your craw doesn't it? After all I've been saying.
I am ready to go.
Yes. You read that right and I don't care if you happen to be a die-hard optimist. I. Am. Ready. To. Go. And only at the age of thirty six with fairly good health. Try living with that. Not as a threat or to get attention. Not because I am broken and can't be fixed. And definitely not for anyone who thinks they can make me see the light so easily, yet never truly understand how this feels. It bloody hurts. Most of this emotion never sees the light of day, so you're lucky I'm even saying it at all. Imagine trying to live with that while many people around you think you are either a stubborn pessimist or legitimately hopeless.
Imagine someone who has it worse than me and how they feel. A combat veteran, young or older, who sees their fellow comrades killed in front of them... Honest and lawful fellow police officers, their friends and family, who have to deal with one of their own being gunned down by hateful people out for blood. Or vice versa, with a crooked cop out for the same and the victim's family having to cope with the loss. School children massacred because no one acts to prevent or discourage the indiscriminate violence, but blame guns and skin color instead of the real causes. A firefighter who cannot save a desperate child from a fire that should not have happened. A precious young child or teenager who has been bullied/cyberbullied so relentlessly because society wants us to tear ourselves apart... The list goes on...
I want nothing more than to find genuine, meaningful love in life. To find a career that will enable independence, identity, and part of a purpose. So go ahead and consider me lame. Maybe I am? For one, I cannot undo the longstanding desire for love because I already tried. It triggered my suicide contemplation in 2014. Scary, considering if I actually had given up every shred, every scrap of hope and would not be here typing these words right now. Try waking up every day with having to fake, or prolong, your will to live because of something that is not life-threatening, but means the world to you in every meaningful way possible, yet has always been denied to you for Lord knows what twist of fate.
Queue the third and final Avengers Infinity War movie trailer, which was released on March 16th:
"The end is near......
I hope they remember you." -Josh Brolin, Thanos.
[With the following background movie trailer music: Audiomachine - Redshift]
The end of my story has not been told...
...because I refuse to give up!
Read my words.
i will not die today. I will live to fight another day, at least for as long as I can.
With this grit and passion, you will not see me giving up the good fight. Not now. Not anytime soon. How? Why? Because of the theme I expressed when I began this blog series: things happening for a reason that feel like they were meant to be. I know where I'm meant to be; that's why I am still here. Right here in this life amongst the people who surround me, whether people love or hate me for speaking my mind. And I know some people will not like what I've said here or the tension with which I've expressed it. I hope you all feel otherwise. I am meant to be a voice standing up for other people less fortunate than I have been. It is a privilege to advocate with so much compassion. Not because one person has it worse than another. Because whomever you are there are times in life when it... just... hurts.
Thanks to a group of truly remarkable portrayals of fiction superhero characters, Marvel's Avengers from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, once more I have found the spark of inspiration which has helped me continue writing blog posts. As well as empowering me to find a foothold against the demons I face today and what I will probably face in the days ahead.
From Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark, Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, Chris Hemsworth's Thor, Chris Evans' Steve Rogers, Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff, Mark Ruffalo's Incredible Hulk, Tom Hiddleston's Loki, Idris Elba's Heimdall, Paul Bettany's Vision, Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff, Jeremy Renner's Clint Barton, Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes, Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson, Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie, Benedict Cumberbatch's Stephen Strange, Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa, the unreleased film (Captain Marvel) starring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, and many more.
There are just so many strongly identifiable and inspiring heroic characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. I humbly believe we are witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime experience. These last ten years have truly been a privilege to enjoy so very much and I look forward to what Marvel Studios has in store for the future.
Now, to wrap up what turned out to be a most intense and revealing nine out of ten days in a row for sharing my thoughts in these blog entries. I want to leave all of you with a new inspirational quote of mine to show that, while I acknowledge the negativity of the 'wolves gnawing at my heels', I still choose to look forward and give the tomorrows a chance. If you now feel like going out into the world to be a voice, and a positive force for good, this is for you and for your journey.
"You would be surprised that, by just giving your best, how far in life you can get.
A lot further than you think." (my words).
Let's see if this goes viral.
April 22nd, 2018:
|Posted on March 18, 2018 at 1:20 AM||comments (0)|
In the trailer for the Marvel film Avengers: Infinity War Thanos, a key villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, says some unsettling words that ultimately managed to break my months-long silence. And it happened despite the fact that he is a negative influence as a supervillain, and how the film hints at several of the superheroes meeting their end as well. Those are not positive, yet they became a positive influence for me because I chose to perceive them that way. Given my experience with mindfulness I have used forms of adversity, such as what is portrayed in the movie trailer, to my advantage.
"In time, you will know what it's like to lose.
To feel so desperately that you're right, yet to fail all the same.
Run from it.
Destiny still arrives." -Josh Brolin, Thanos (Avengers: Infinity War trailer)
[With the following background movie trailer music: Hi-Finesse - Disintegration (in collaboration with Alan Silvestri)]
There is truth in what Thanos says, which I have already referenced. You will know what it's like to lose; yet to fail all the same. It is basic realism in a simple form. Not everyone will make it in life. The Pittsburgh Steelers won't always win a game (even though I wish they did better than the New England Patriots). Eventually, a person will fail and will fall. What is important is the effort to pick ourselves up and continue forward. I know this because I am living proof of the capability of living with considerable mental illness such as suicide. Yet, here I am. Still.
This is where the positive tone of my writing this week begins to wane. Proof is as simple as the fact that I split this blog entry, about Avengers: Infinity War, into three separate posts. Even to the end of that last paragraph above, you are seeing a live example of just how hesitant and insecure I am for being too honest about my feelings. Over time, I have known what it's like to lose. I've felt so desperately that I am right about being positive and that I can make it. Yet, I still feel that I will fail all the same... anyway...
The origin of my mental illness, back in 1994, came from the only mental health symptom that I have not been able to cope with or overcome - career anxiety and indecision. Not for two thirds of my life. That, is what I am finally having to face once and for all. Right here. Right now. And time is not on my side at the age of thirty six no matter how young that simple number is to anyone.
"Dread it. Run from it. Destiny still arrives."
Before continuing, if you would please, I encourage all who read this to look up the background music played for this movie trailer (Hi-Finesse - Disintegration) and for the Spider-Man Homecoming movie trailer (Colossal Trailer Music - Zeitgeist) which is also pretty intense. It will help to convey my point. How and why exactly was the negative, foreboding tone of Thanos' words able to finally reach into me after several months of relative isolation and silence?
I am my own worst enemy, now.
After 24 years and with all things considered, I can't help but feel that I simply will not make it for much longer. How long I do not know. I'm sorry...
This is not a threat. It is not a game, or to be manipulative with anyone's feelings or desires to help. It is not to garner a single person's sympathy or pity. What I spoke of a week ago when starting this blog series, the conflict I wage about whether to be positive or to be realistic and honest, I have to draw the line somewhere. I cannot be who I have become without being honest.
...and for tomorrow's blog you'd better buckle your seatbelts. Destiny gets rather tense to handle and so do I.
[Now, the conclusion]
March 19th, 2018:
"For a reason... Conclusion" (Caution for intensity)
|Posted on March 17, 2018 at 1:05 AM||comments (0)|
Have you ever felt that some things tend to happen for a reason? As if an event, or a loved one, in your life seems like it was meant to be? Depending on your faith or beliefs, perhaps some sort of higher power? Imagine someone such as myself, a skeptic and realist, begins noticing more of those kinds of experiences in their own life gradually over time. String enough of them together and the skepticism slowly begins to fade away. In the last ten years, I have seen this unfold in my life. The most recent example was triggered by the trailer for the unreleased Marvel film, Avengers: Infinity War, specifically the dialogue by the supervillain Thanos. A foe that will be the toughest yet, by far, for the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to confront.
How can someone find positive inspiration from something as negative as a villain, or as foreboding a film as Avengers: Infinity War seems to be? Why is more inspiration sometimes necessary when it comes to facing adversity or particularly if living with mental illness? How does the timing of this film's release (April 27th) relate to what I am dealing with right now to create such a feeling of happening for a reason? What exactly am I struggling with? Why? First, I would like to thank all those who have not only followed along this past year, but continue to find the time in their busy lives to read what I feel confident enough to share here. Thank you, kindly. Allow me to begin explaining what has temporarily brought me out from isolation and silence and back to being a voice that can be heard once again.
So, how can a foreboding movie have inspired me to break my months-long silence? Especially when things in my life have not yet begun to improve. To be honest, I still struggle from week to week. I mean, Infinity War looks to show the Avengers getting their butts handed to them. A knock-down, drag out, not every hero will survive kind of movie. That isn't a positive thing. Thanos is a supervillain; definitely not a positive role model like the character Steve Rogers is. Well... Inspiration doesn't just come from strictly positive forms. It only becomes positive when it is intended to be. Hence, the effort of being genuinely positive to yourself on the inside first.
I can blog about my experiences with mental illness all day and all night. Until or unless I encourage a positive state of mind, or helpful goal in any of your lives, there would be very little inspiration to be found on this website. However, inspiration could still be created anyway because knowing how to find it is half the battle. Therein lies an important truth; just about anything can be a source for positive inspiration. Even negativity and the hardships of our lives. Even suicide itself. People bullying you because you look different, act different, dress different, or if you vote differently than they would. All are examples of negativity and stigma, but can still become a source for positive inspiration. Even with an evil supervillain like Thanos. Remember how I often say that I try to make negatives into positives?
Being resourceful. Being flexible. Being resilient. Simple courage or just doing your best. Your back doesn't have to be against a wall for you to survive something like a bad day or as difficult as suicide. It also does not take any special skills to achieve. Understanding that inspiration can come from anything around us, and just the effort of trying to be positive really does go a long way. "Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway." "Create anyway." Mother Teresa. Believe me the tougher things get the more positive inspiration is needed. So, being more resourceful with finding sources of inspiration can definitely come in handy. Bring on Thanos!
As well, a more compelling or the more negative the source can potentially become a more powerful force of positive inspiration. I could just be a passive fan of Chris Hemsworth's character, Thor, and feel only minimal inspiration. Meh... He's alright. If I really identify with him on a personal level, for any number of meaningful reasons, the power of inspiration can increase tenfold. Being a parent and losing your child to suicide can be beyond crippling. But if you have the strength to honor your loved one, to heal properly on the inside, and become strong enough to live in honor and memory of them, that once powerful negative influence in your life becomes the exact opposite. A negative becomes a positive.
Yes, it takes some work. After all I am a realist. My mind always works 24/7. Though, once you discover the ease with which so many things around you in life can be a source of strength with the effort applied, the possibilities are endless. As you get better creating positive inspiration you'll also tend to find out how addictive it can be too. In some situations, such as having severe depression or bipolar for example, more positive reinforcement is necessary in order to maintain good mental and physical health. Such as this point in my life right now.
However, to be honest, this is where the optimism with what I have been sharing this week begins to wane... Check back tomorrow to find out how and why.
[To be continued...]
March 18th, 2018:
|Posted on March 16, 2018 at 12:35 AM||comments (0)|
Thus far, I've talked about acknowledging and dealing with challenging times in your life, turning negatives into positives no matter how terrible you feel, the responsibility for my decision to advocate for mental health awareness as well as why I chose this path, and facing difficult adversity but remembering not to give up. For over the last year, thanks to my courage to pursue mental health recovery, I now know one of the major reasons for why I have made it despite not being empowered to seek recovery until only just this past year. That's a long time... To describe it has been simply to keep an open mind.
"I don't believe in fairy tales about chakras, or energy, or the power of belief." -Benedict Cumberbatch, Dr. Stephen Strange.
"You wonder what I see in your future?
Possibility." -Tilda Swinton, Ancient One (Doctor Strange #1 trailer).
[With the following background movie trailer music: Hi-Finesse - Catalytic]
Rather than fearing what I do not understand, as a lot of people tend to do, I have kept an open mind with so many things in life and in return have learned so much more. Eighteen years ago amidst my first bout of depression, during and after high school, I started to develop mindfulness habits before I ever knew what mindfulness was. First, what is it? One way to explain that mindfulness is just to know yourself better. An actual physical practice with the body is to engage in yoga or meditation. Informal mindfulness focuses on being more aware of who you are and the world around you, as well as being a better person (to others).
After high school, how exactly was I practicing mindfulness if I didn't know what it was? By luck and instinct. I have a rather strong paternal trait of perfectionism which, at some point in my past, I felt was a negative part of who I was and what I was doing. I can tell with my own eyes whether a picture hung on a wall is crooked or straight; not necessarily a negative trait but a fair example. Almost by instinct, I gradually began to explore the opposite behavior in order to balance the negativity I was sensing in myself. Instead of becoming increasingly uptight, everything has to be just right, I would look to and appreciate the random and natural beauty in things such as in nature. Here are some examples I can describe by now.
Breathtaking sunsets. Awe-inspiring cumulonimbus thunderstorm clouds that fill a daytime sky, or the lightning that fills the sky at night. The lush spring and summer green of the Appalachian Mountains one of which I have seen outside my bedroom window for years. The sparkling wonder of fresh-fallen snow. The oh-so-sweet smell of lilac or marigold flowers. The everlasting honor of another human being who genuinely respects me as much as I strive to respect them. All of this, and more, just by being open minded? Yep. Amen. And the list goes on. Not just sights, sounds, tastes, or smells, but also positive emotions such as the intense power of listening to some of these movie trailer songs. Some of them pump me up so much I feel as if I'm ready to run a mile even though I am not in the best physical shape right now.
With having an open mind comes what actress Tilda Swinton says in this trailer as simple possibility. Every person is capable of this and so much more. Any chance I get, for example, I share the super-inspiring movie trailer music with anyone who may be interested because it has literally changed my life. Neo-classical music has given me the ability to utilize music for powerful inspiration. There have been times when it has even helped to buffer suicidal ideations. As I'm writing this I am listening to the music for this exact movie trailer itself. There are ways to explore and reap the benefits of mindfulness which require so little effort that everyone can do it. Though, for myself, there are always two sides of the coin of my life. A balance. Positive and negative.
"Be careful which path you travel down (Strange).
Stronger (men) than you have lost their way." -Benedict Wong, Wong (Doctor Strange #2 trailer).
[With the following background movie trailer music: Hi-Finesse - Dystopia]
When it comes down to it, the odds are stacked against us. Tragic car accidents. Plane crashes. Floods. Cancerous diseases. Undiagnosed health conditions. Deadly firearms; weapons in the hands of people responsible for abusing them to mass murder others. Not to mention prolonged experience with suicide and depression. After having endured so many years of unmedicated, untreated, and unaccepted mental illness, despite the progress I've made I still face adversity just as difficult to overcome as anyone else. I also have a choice whether to give in to the temptation of suicide, to harm someone else, or to remain as I have been still here and now. Only my own worst enemy.
But besides the paths of good and bad choices in life, being an attempt survivor and having to deal with suicide on a regular enough basis I have been forced to be well aware of 'which path I travel down' in my life. Now more than ever. If I let my guard down there may be no coming back, this next time. This is my cross to bear. Well, one of them at least. Stronger people than me have lost their way and have not lived today to tell their story...
Unlike my 2003 overdose attempt, which I might add was abrupt and not preceded by any sort of final suicide note, with the suicidal ideations ever since I can say I've had plenty of time to think about the meaning of my life... And yes, I have relapsed at least once (2014). Maybe twice (2018). It's difficult to tell, because nearly the last thing I want to admit to myself - let alone any of you - is that I contemplated suicide to any degree of being serious enough to want to actually do it. So, despite what anyone may say or criticize of me I do have experience with mental illness and suicide. I really wish I didn't, but this is the life I have been dealt and it will be what I fight for.
Now, after a remarkable week blogging every day straight for the first time in over a year, I come to the crowning center piece of why I wrote this many blog entries to begin with. Last week as I began combing through all of these trailers for their inspirational value, I also happened to catch onto the newest Marvel film trailer as well. It was the source of inspiration that motivated me to write such a flurry of blog posts so out of the blue and with such... a-vengeance... as you have just seen. A film trailer for a surefire blockbuster that will hit theaters on April 27th worldwide and fits my life right now to a T.
March 17th, 2018:
|Posted on March 15, 2018 at 1:05 AM||comments (0)|
No matter what the situation is, no matter how much of a painful past, present, or bleak a future you who read this may feel you struggle with, there is always plenty of inspiration and will power to give yourself a fighting chance. Always. Right now as you read this new set of blog posts, you are witnessing a live example from a below average, blends-in kind of human being with no special qualities other than my forgiveness and compassion. A person who has had to court death in ways that no one can physically see, that not a lot of people understand, yet, let alone to accept and trust as no threat to someone else. Have I given up yet? Nope. The dialogue from this next movie trailer backs me up on this.
"(We) try to save as many people as we can. Sometimes that doesn't mean everybody.
But you don't give up." -Chris Evans, Steve Rogers (Captain America: Civil War trailer).
[With the following background movie trailer music: Hi-Finesse - Event Horizon]
Unfortunately, not everyone will make it particularly those who struggle with suicide, or suicide loss whom develop symptoms themselves and struggle to cope... There can be no more sorrowful reality that myself as an individual, or working as a group with dozens or more people, than (for example) I will never be able to stop all suicide deaths. I will never be there for every eleven or twelve year old, younger than I was when my symptoms first emerged, who ultimately decides to give up on their life. Knowing things such as that likelihood does honestly sadden me. All lives matter. Not everyone makes it. Not good, at all. Failure is not an option, and if those people don't make it we as human beings have failed them.
No one, and I mean no one should be left behind regarding mental health or really just any person whatsoever. This life is special that everyone is fortunate to live. It's a gift you only get once. I, for one, am getting tired of seeing people who have different skin color (including white individuals such as myself), sexual preference (including straight individuals like myself), gender identity (disorder), rich or poor (including the use of terms like privileged to create segregation), powerful or powerless, mental illness or not, to be stereotyped and bullied by oppressive minded people. That, to stand before the oppressed and not behind them, is a purpose worth living for. Or as actor Chris Evans' character is fond of saying, "I can do this all day".
In fact, as I wrote these blog entries I realized just how much I look up to and idolize the way Steve Rogers is portrayed as Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He really is a stunning character that more people should aspire to being. And a type of person that we do need right now very much because not giving up is not a cliché. Encouraging especially a person with mental illness to not give up and, if you manage to get that through to them, makes all the difference in their world.
I'm beginning to get the feeling that each of these Marvel film trailers I've talked about follow a certain pattern in my own life. So, why stop now? It gets more intriguing with the next trailer by taking a certain mystical perspective of things courtesy of none other than...
March 16th, 2018:
|Posted on March 14, 2018 at 1:00 AM||comments (0)|
Alrighty. Moving right along. In the last entry, using the Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie trailer I've related what I knew I was getting into with publicly advocating for mental health awareness and having to accept the dense responsibility of it beforehand. When this next Marvel film's movie trailer hit the internet during early 2015, I faced a similar situation as I do now. Although back then, I still had not begun any advocating neither did I accept my mental health as the struggle it has been for me. I did face a rather difficult time which I felt I might not overcome. Here is what stood out for me with this movie trailer's dialogue.
"Here we all are with nothing but our wit and our will (to save the world). So stand and fight." -Samuel L. Jackson, Nick Fury.
"No way we all get through this." -Robert Downey Jr., Tony Stark.
"I got no plans tomorrow night." -Chris Evans, Steve Rogers (Avengers: Age Of Ultron trailer).
[With the following background movie trailer music: Twelve Titans Music - Artifice]
Samuel L. Jackson's line speaks to all of us when we happen to face our darkest of times mental health or otherwise. No matter how inadequate or unprepared we may feel, we still have what it takes to beat the odds. We can still stand and fight against the sociopolitical stigmas running rampant in society today. And yes, I do mean political stigma as well particularly in this country. It doesn't matter who you are, what you look like on the outside, or how you feel on the inside. To borrow a line from the Christopher Nolan film, Batman Begins:
"It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me." -Christian Bale, Bruce Wayne.
In fact, while writing this I just added that movie quote to my Words Of Wisdom page. Amen. With nothing but our wit and our will we can save this world from the darkness amongst us. Whether you are of color, gender identity, straight, homosexual, etc. You've got this. We've got this. Let's build the future, together (I love when I get this positive). The sentiment is really a call to activism as well as individual bravery. Not just a group of people standing tall but each and every one of us. Actor Robert Downey Jr.'s line reflects how a realist such as myself would sometimes feel. Behind me a dark past; beneath me the wolves gnawing at my heels. Am I going to make it through all of this? Yet, here I am. Still.
I would probably say exactly what Chris Evans' character, Steve Rogers, said next that he has no plans tomorrow night. Personally, I have seen hope all throughout two thirds of my life come and go. Just fade away as the sunlight does each day. I do not have the luxury of easy self-assurance that I will make it in life, let alone two years from now. I am no one special in this diverse, contentious melting pot that is the United States of America. Yet, I have no goals more important to me than sticking myself out there on the line to help others.
I intend to fight for as many as I can. Believe it. I don't care that I am a straight, white male with mental health diagnoses amidst a society becoming more confrontational and hostile towards one another by the week. [What I do defines me]. Bring the bull. I will grab him by the horns and I'll hang on for long as I can. I am in this to the end. Speaking of such fiery determination...
"Is that the best you can do?!" -Chris Hemsworth, Thor.
Well said, Thor. Well said. To which with polished sarcasm the reply was...
"You had to ask." -Chris Evans, Steve Rogers.
The Marvel superheroes did manage to defeat Ultron but little did they know a few years later what would be in store for them. Not to mention just how much they would tear themselves apart in the next film trailer I'll talk about. Something I hope this country never sees itself through ever again.
A Civil War.
March 15th, 2018:
|Posted on March 13, 2018 at 1:05 AM||comments (0)|
Do keep in mind that some of these Marvel film trailers have been around for a couple years or more. So, I have had an extended amount of time to be inspired by them. It goes to show what can inspire does not mean it inspires you only once. Blessed be that or I might not still be here. Marvel's first true cinematic universe film, Iron Man, came out a decade ago in 2008. Iron Man 3 came out five years ago in May of 2013; five years to be awe-inspired by it multiple times. Hence the next Marvel film trailer that I took a look at this past week.
"Are you ready for the world to see you as you really are? You look out the window; you know how the game works.
All it takes is one step." -Robert Redford, Alexander Pierce (Captain America: The Winter Soldier trailer).
[With the following background movie trailer music: Ninja Tracks - Pretender]
One step... The quote above from the movie trailer feels like it hearkens to my decision to begin advocating for mental health awareness back in October of 2016. My still largely un-noticed, grassroots effort not to get myself recognized but to find myself while helping more people along the way. And beyond, to greater goals and a bigger impact for awareness as well as prevention. That's what this website is all about. A journey of self-discovery for anyone willing to take it. I have strong faith in the words and work I've laid out here over the past year and a half. All of this can, and will, help lead people out of their darkness and towards a better light of their own.
In fact, in this film the character, Steve Rogers as Captain America, finds himself along a very similar path of figuring out who he is at a challenging point of his life. Before I decided to begin blogging, I asked myself whether I was ready for the world to see me as I really am. To learn about the truth of my mental health. I do look out the window. I know how the world works. Disorder, war, chaos, bullying, terror, murder, death, suicide, and fear. Not exactly a comforting environment to step into willingly, to be honest. But that isn't all the this world is about nor will it ever be during the time that we are here. Though, I still knew full well the stiff opposition I would be facing if I chose to advocate. The least of which being discrimination by potential employers.
Let's face it. Mental health then, and now, is not all that well accepted. Yet. For one, bullying is at an all-time serious high due to the backlash after Donald Trump's presidential election. This alone has been frightening for me to see it unfold, spread ravenously, and to witness first-hand in some cases. It's like going from the outside of a pool to being near the deep end. Maybe even with the sharks added too. So far, I have shared of the fiery passion which drives me to advocate, while also going through the challenging process of my own mental health recovery. But I have not shared the other reason why I decided to embark on this otherwise perilous journey...
As one of the quotes on my Words Of Wisdom page expresses is that nothing worthwhile is easy. In 2016, I faced a repeat of my 2014 suicide contemplation. I chose this path for the right reasons, absolutely. But also because of the darker forces behind my life at the time and now, as well. I traded the desperation for the powerful passion of striving to help people. So far, it has worked and is helping to sustain me. To keep me going. It allows me to give the tomorrows a chance. Putting one foot in front of the other. Never needing to be thanked. Never wanting anyone's pity. I don't want to watch the world burn. I want to dig down deep into the muck surrounding us and crawl if I have to in order to make things better. If it means taking a bullet, then I won't hesitate to save a life. I am in this until I literally change the world somehow. Chuckle now, but I will be successful later.
As Steven Rogers is fond of saying in the Marvel films, "I can do this all day".
You're absolutely right I can do this all day. Actor Chris Evans' superb portrayal of Rogers is one of the reasons why I have come to like the Marvel Cinematic Universe films to very much. Which, in fact, brings me to the next film trailer as we continue to move along...
Along on into the Age of Ultron.
March 14th, 2018:
|Posted on March 12, 2018 at 1:05 AM||comments (0)|
I had identified quite strongly to the dialogue in the Iron Man 3 UK international trailer when it first came out. Some of the lines seemed to jump out at me as logic I could relate to at the time. In 2013, I was one year prior to my second experience with suicide (contemplation) so it was no surprise why I liked it. I was under a lot of stress not to mention the fact that back then I had not yet even touched mental health awareness or acceptance. The evening after this February's Suicide Prevention Task Force meeting, with learning about the Kevin Hines movie event in mind, I sat down and decided to tinker with the Iron Man 3 UK international trailer's dialogue. Do feel free to check out the actual trailer on Youtube should it be helpful. Listed below is what I managed to reword after an hour's worth of solid effort.
I'm Jim Irion.
I blog about mental health.
I don't have a great girl.
And occasionally, volunteer in the community.
So why, can't I sleep?
I have advocated for a single goal.
I will advance mental health awareness at all costs.
And suicide must be stopped.
You don't know who I am.
You'll never see me coming.
[THE WORLD: to ME]
What am I going to do about these deaths?
The whole world's gonna be struggling.
The question, who is Jim Irion?
Things are different now.
I have to live for the one thing I can barely live without.
Mr. Irion, today, is the first day, of what's left of your life.
I'm going to offer a choice:
do you want an empty life, or a meaningful death?
You're not invincible; you're nothing more than a terror.
I'm not afraid of you; no politics here.
Just good old fashioned Courage.
Hence, the experiment I was referring to.
Wow. Talk about intense, especially if you listen to the music track for the trailer (Basalt by The Hit House). Ben Kingsley's line towards the end is what struck me the most, because it is exactly what I have felt in recent years when my depression symptoms peak. In my humble opinion, suicide is the worst of the worst when it comes to mental health. When I've felt my worst my life does feel rather distant, as I describe it I do feel the other kind of tired, quite defeated, worn down, and really just empty. When I first heard that line in the trailer, and Kingsley says the alternative of a meaningful death, I still get chills run up and down my spine.
Even now. That is why in my reworded dialogue I titled Kingsley's character as suicide. It is as if that is the entity speaking to me through those words. I will be completely honest when I say yes; I have often considered a meaningful death over the empty life I sometimes feel I am living. Not to go out in a blaze of glory, but to save a child from a burning building, take a bullet for a teenager amidst a school shooting as three faculty did during the Parkland, Florida shooting, and so on. In the right place of life, self-sacrifice is in fact the noblest act a human being can initiate. So, it's not an entirely inappropriate response for me with the movie trailer. All things considered though, this is where I get my passion to help others with mental health awareness. I would give my life to do everything that I can, now, to put myself on the line for the greater good at my expense. I don't want an empty life nor do I want death, yet. I want a meaningful life; I want the best of both.
What is important to acknowledge are unhealthy, negative feelings or behavior and to act accordingly. Taking a negative and making it a positive can be so very uplifting I hope I, or anyone else, ever loses that edge. Stay and build the future. That's why these Marvel superhero films have been so fulfilling; they portray realistic people who through adversity and effort can act heroically. Simply because they can and so can each of us. I had shared my reworded dialogue with a regular attendee at this month's March SPTF meeting and she liked the creativity very much. Due to her enthusiastic response, that evening after the meeting I took a closer look at other Marvel film trailers. I was curious to see what other dialogue could be as identifiable as from Iron Man 3. What I discovered were some interesting results.
Enter the Winter Soldier.
March 13th, 2018:
|Posted on August 8, 2017 at 2:00 AM||comments (0)|
For those of you who are faithfully following along with my blogging, I thank you because however silent you are still an inspiration for me. The reason for my silence is because of several reasons I will soon address, so don't worry. To pass the time, I have quite an interesting topic choice to share with all of you. I included this entry under the category, To Know Me Better, because I consider it central to my life, my creativity, and a reflection of who I am.
The single most fascinating and inspiring fictional female character I have ever come across in my life is not something I take lightly. So, this blog post will not be all that short. Motoko "Major" Kusanagi is the main character of Mamoru Oshii's anime film Ghost In The Shell, originally created as manga comics by Masamune Shirow. It just so happens that I finished watching the big screen production of it on DVD only a couple days ago. I told myself, despite needing to post updates, I have to write a blog about this character and share my admiration of her for others to read about. Allow me to take you back to when I first discovered the Major and why I feel such a connection to the way she has been portrayed.
The time was the 1990s. My first confirmed symptoms of depression had surfaced during the summer of 1994 just before I turned thirteen. Twelve years old. I didn't know it back then, but my interest in Japanese animation would expose me to some of the most powerful creative forces I have come to know. When I first saw the original anime movie I was quite taken with how Major was portrayed. In anime productions and the feature film since then, she has become almost an idol for me with her personality. But who is she and why do I seem so taken with her?
For those who don't know the character or the Ghost In The Shell series, I will attempt to do my best with a summary first. She is the first of her kind. The first human brain (referred to as a ghost) transplanted into a cybernetic body (referred to as a shell). Hence the title. The Major serves as the lead operative of the future Japan-based Public Security Section 9. Section 9 serves under the Ministry of Internal Affairs answering to the Prime Minister as an intelligence department. Think combining the CIA with the FBI. Most of Section 9's operatives, including the Major, are also partially or entirely cyberized with the exception of Togusa.
Due to her prior distinguished military service, Kusanagi earned the nickname Major because of her rank. However, she stands above the other characters because of her inherent human qualities which are often portrayed to surface over computerized behavior. In simple terms, the Major longs for more. To know more about her mysterious past, what makes her what she is, why does she exist, to question, explore, and discover herself beyond the cybernetic limitations of her enhanced artificial body. Her desires for self-awareness also include understanding the vast and infinite reaches of the net as well.
She's not just another cardboard cut-out fictional female character. Forget how endowed or fit she is portrayed. That is because her artificial body (shell) is designed for combat. In some cases, she is portrayed taking on a spider tank using her bare hands. As a female character, the Major is strong-willed, confident, feminine but not feminist, mysterious yet passionate, very loyal and independent, very keenly aware of herself and her surroundings through mindfulness traits. She could go toe to toe with a tank just as adeptly as a male counterpart. Yes, technically she is not a human female character because she is cybernetic. Personally, I don't see the need to differentiate between that.
My strong admiration for and inspiration of the Major is what I long to find in a soulmate someday. She is an equal. An equal but without the need to be above or beneath a man in order to be who she is. She's one of a kind. I know how odd it may seem to say this, but her counterpart in some of the productions known by the name Hideo Kuze is actually who I would consider myself. I long to find the kind of person that the Major has been portrayed in fiction just as much as Kuze is portrayed to be drawn to her so instinctively. Whether or not I find that kind of woman in this life is rather irrelevant, but my respect for the character known as Motoko "Major" Kusanagi will always be of the utmost and strong.
Thank you, Masamune Shirow and Mamoru Oshii, for creating portraying such a deeply inspiring character.