|Posted on July 8, 2020 at 2:00 PM||comments (43)|
On this day of July, "2020", I would like to make a most humble announcement. Thanks in large part to those many people who have persevered, since June 21st my website has now officially surpassed 5,000 page views.
As I consider the effort by those many people out there, and lastly myself, to share my poem despite censorship and spam blocking... I must regard all of you as much as the troubling times we are enduring together as a people. While sharing the poem, on social media, I have seen many faces.
Many faces, indeed.
Not of one race, color, or creed, but of many people who tirelessly work and to support essential lives. American, international, blue collar, white collar, front line, at home, graduate, as well as retirees with a lifetime of hard work behind you. I wanted to see a picture of as many of you as I could in order to remember who I am with right now. Who I am with right now as we fight this and stand up to reveal the truth about COVID-19. The thousands upon thousands awakened to the truth about the narratives that surround us.
Not of one race, color, or creed, but of many people who deserve the most dignified respect I can offer as but one lowly soul. Never before in my life have I seen so many people face such an uncertain future as I myself have been living for over the last twenty years because of my mental health. I am unemployed, have no significant other, spouse or kids, and not yet a place to live so either. I struggle mightily in ways my new mental health writing will begin to reveal. I struggle through my days as we all do together facing the uncertainty before us.
Of many races, colors, and creeds, we the people of the world have come this far in our lives such as they are. We don't always agree. Believe me, as I stated in my 2018 article on youth and adult bullying, "We all have our days." We also have our days of humble forgiveness and remarkable compassion. Despite any differences, we are still here together. I have said to numerous commenters on social media, you are still here. That's mindfulness. That's empowerment. That's resilience. That takes honest courage to face what we have and still be here.
Persisting as one great river to carve a path through the rock of oppression that lies all around us...
From all my heart I want to thank each and every person for taking the time to read my poem, the patience to read it all (because, honestly, it is long and stressful), as well as the diligence to share it with anyone you know. A big shout-out to Ms. Trina Faith for sharing my poem with her 2,500 followers on Twitter as well. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Keep my poem alive.
I want to conclude this post in memorandum by quoting my idol, beloved actor Robert Downey Jr., from the 2008 film Iron Man.
"I shouldn't be alive... unless it was for a reason. I'm not crazy... I just finally know what I have to do. And I know in my heart that it's right."
You are why I am still here.
You are an Avenger.
|Posted on January 13, 2020 at 2:45 PM||comments (1)|
Thanks to Ms. Becky Ebert, Editor for the non-profit organization ToWriteLoveOnHerArms (TWLOHA), today my first formal article sharing my 2003 attempt survival has been published nationally (#5). This is one of the most important topics I set out to publish. I cannot thank Ms. Ebert enough. Now, more than ever, safely sharing an attempt survival story cannot be underestimated - especially not at a time when suicide is such a serious concern. But there is hope.
Three years ago, after I finished blogging for 128 days to begin my advocacy website, I submitted my first mental health writing for publishing consideration. It was a non-profit organization I'd heard about from local community volunteers. My first impression was that it seemed quite reputable. Their blog was full of rich personal stories about a range of important mental health topics. Although I was declined, to be honest my writing was not well developed yet.
The non-profit was none other than TWLOHA.
Two years ago, I'd taken the training for NAMI's "In Our Own Voice" presentation program. Closer to the summer, I then took and completed the re-training. However, for reasons I cannot disclose, my affiliate either decided against having me involved or the program was not their priority. Perhaps NAMI's single best program, to proactively reach people all over an average community, left to help no one here by the choice to waste the training I'd been sent for. That year was also the summer when I was bullied for trying to pitch my recovery story, and stigmatized as a threat for asking about getting a vendor table.
Hence, why I refer to it as the "Summer from Hell".
One year ago, following my success of having two NAMI Blogs published in late 2018, I busied myself to write about the most important topics I wanted to advocate for. My efforts to branch out into my community had been met with immoral retaliation. I didn't just want to give up what I'd started. Though, I didn't know whether I would get any new writing published let alone to the people who need it. So, I didn't necessarily believe in the success. But I pursued it anyway. Through an incredibly deep passion I've developed for helping people, I set myself on the task because I felt it needed to be done.
“A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” —James N. Watkins
In 2019, the Nat'l Empowerment Center re-published my anti-bullying article (#3). NAMI published my th;rd Blog with my stunning take on goal-oriented suicide prevention (#4). Unfortunately, in between them a forty-six-year-old local businesswoman, Rebecca Hoover, took her life as a result of being bullied. Her tragedy hit me like a brick wall. One year earlier, it could have been me ("Summer from Hell"). Now, I had a much clearer focus and increasing success writing about mental health. I also found my theme too.
Because it does. Prove me wrong.
The local Suicide Task Force refused to consider either article, despite Hoover's preventable suicide loss. Frankly, the excuses I have been given are shameful. It has been hard to tolerate the ignorance of just a handful of 'community leaders' protected in positions of influence. And no, it is not because now I know I have been diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. I have been telling it like it is all my life. I say what needs to be said, and some of what needs to be said about mental health awareness is what I have learned. If I am being honest.
What did I do?
Shortly after my suicide prevention NAMI Blog (#4), I finally found both the confidence and tact to try writing a formal account of my attempt survival. Much like when I write poetry, sometimes the momentum can drive me to write more. I knew I needed to be careful how I shared my experience. So, I made that my top priority. Several days later, I finished a draft and submitted it to TheMighty for consideration. They declined it two weeks later. I then revised the article into its final form. When I finished this re-write, to be honest I was awe-struck.
I knew I had previously blogged about parts of my attempt experience before. Though, I didn't exactly know how to safely discuss what I went through without revealing too much information. After all, what filters have I had but the drive to openly share my life? This time it was different. Somehow, I managed to not compromise anonymity or violate suicide reporting guidelines by discussing what my method was. Yet, I still included a surprising amount of detail about what was going through my mind.
I humbly believe I proved that survivors do not need to reveal what the attempt method was. Just share what you felt and why. I had potentially created a blueprint for other survivors to follow...
Loosely covering from 1997 to 2008, I successfully wrote about my attempt survival and incorporated one of the most empowering conclusions I have ever written. I took the confidence from my suicide prevention NAMI Blog and put it to the best use. What happened next was yet another surprise. Completely out of the blue, TWLOHA contacted me expressing their interest to re-publish the article. Honestly, it felt like after three years I had come full circle.
Thank you, Becky and ToWriteLoveOnHerArms (TWLOHA). Thank you for giving me another chance. Thank you for choosing to consider what a community leader once referred to as my "unwanted" recovery story. Well, it is not unwanted anymore. I look forward to writing some of my next submissions exclusively for your consideration. Here is hope you can take with you, and the reason...
|Posted on January 9, 2020 at 9:10 PM||comments (0)|
“A Loving Juliet”
Poem written by: Jim R. Irion
It is an honest shame,
an empty terrible pain,
not to have had a chance yet
to find a loving Juliet.
Plenty of times I have tried;
many times they have lied.
I wanted the commitment.
They flaunted being ignorant.
I tried the clichéd hero role,
the compassionate and caring Romeo,
the knight in shining armor,
that nice guy in the corner.
I put myself on the line,
regardless of the day or time.
No matter what it would take;
felt like the right choice to make.
Now, most of my peers
have found their dears.
I feel like I’m the last
guy picked for gym class.
Missed opportunities all along;
never knowing what I did wrong.
So many missed social cues.
Autism had me confused.
By then, it was too late.
I was almost thirty eight.
Here I am all alone.
No Juliet to call my own.
Melanie, Becky, Lacey, Jenny;
just the first four of many.
What does it matter now?
I’m almost forty anyhow.
No sexy good looks
or bulging muscles to flex.
No fat pay checks
or flashy new cars yet.
I already tried online dating
when I thought my luck was fading.
All I got was more chicanery.
Then I stopped because of misery.
I don’t know what to do anymore
to find this true love I pine for.
Before I invest in a casket...
I long to find a loving Juliet.
|Posted on January 5, 2020 at 1:05 AM||comments (0)|
“There Is A Time”
Poem written by: Jim R. Irion
There is a time for pain
that can send you reeling.
There is a time for love.
Oh the unrivaled feeling.
The Darkness in thee.
The Light in thou.
Balance them equally.
It is possible to do.
All prayers could feel lost.
Not much hope left in sight.
I have been there and back.
I know what this is like.
Many people think me nuts.
I’m a talker and a realist.
Why won’t I just shut up?
It’s my nature to be honest.
Does sunlight not shine
creating so many shadows?
The good, the bad in life
are nothing to be afraid of.
So charge through the fog
and grasp the Light.
Pierce the Darkness
despite its might.
You’re not too negative.
Don’t let them shame you.
Remember I was here.
Tell that to them too.
|Posted on January 5, 2020 at 1:00 AM||comments (0)|
“Social Media Syndrome”
Poem written by: Jim R. Irion
That moment you stop scrolling
through your Facebook news feed;
all your friend's happy lives
you've just irrevocably seen.
How sad this time of year
can be without someone.
Since I'm in the mood
here is my poem about one.
This is nothing you want to read.
My "someone, someday" is not with me.
All these pictures with your kids.
Partners, pets, the smiles and grins.
Friends or family, would I really be missed?
Maybe someday I may end up testing this.
Too many friends my life is no part of.
React with a ❤️, please show me some love.
I'm sorry I'm not a more popular person.
Accomplished, married, any number of children.
I try, I hope, to be like many of you.
Next year though, I just hope to see it through...
My daily headaches have not stopped yet.
Someday soon I may not wake up again.
I think back to high school all those years ago.
Who am I? With nothing to show.
If you're reading this, and truly do care,
please don't unfriend me if you have love to spare.
A genuine act of generous kindness
can still help when my life is toughest.
|Posted on November 15, 2019 at 1:00 AM||comments (0)|
When is a song more than just a song?
When does a simple composition of words or rhythms define something more than just sound? Through the power of inspiration, a song can become much more than the sum of its parts. Words, thoughts, and ideas expressed in lyrical music are capable of inspiring us for all sorts of reasons. Music has also been a central part of human culture throughout recorded history. So, a single song can be incredibly empowering if you identify with and like what you hear.
Losing someone you care about is deeply traumatic in much the same way as music is fundamentally inspirational. Certain tragedies are easier to place blame. Suicide, however, is frequently misunderstood. Why not stay to see what life has in store, or wait for the next person to say hello? That is if you are fortunate to cross paths with someone who is not afraid to care or help. How can you consider harming yourself if surrounded by people who care about you? Whether or not a note is left behind, the only legitimate experience about what motivates and impairs a victim's judgment are stigmatized attempt survivors.
Suicide is difficult to cope with because the losses are also entirely preventable. We are forced to look within ourselves for answers. Was it my fault? Did I miss the signs? Did I not love or care about them enough? Was it something I said? Such conflicted guilt can trigger additional suicides. Hence, how the pain of one is passed on to another. With so many unanswered and difficult questions about suicide attempts, those who survive have had to face a fearful society. Many survivors have little choice but to keep their experiences to themselves.
Even though the majority of suicides do not involve violence to others, stigma still keeps victims and survivors from being well understood. This includes potential discrimination from members of the community, volunteers, national non-profit organization Board members, and the very people on suicide prevention task forces responsible for saving lives. If an attempt survivor is still struggling, but needs to talk to someone about their feelings, who should be called is often a greater priority than considering their input or consent. As well, certain religions regard suicide as an unforgivable sin.
Suicide can affect us in very fundamental ways.
I know from bitter experience, because I am both a loss and attempt survivor. I also consider myself very fortunate to have had the inner strength to endure and write about my experiences in positive ways. My selfless desire to heal such difficult emotional wounds is a responsibility I take seriously for all the lives at stake. After three years of being a mental health advocate, I now consider my destiny to confront fear - the fear of death - and to light the way back from attempting suicide so others can discover the truth about life. This life is precious and so should ours be.
Through the years, one of the best ways I have found remarkable strength is from listening to various forms of music. Whether instrumental or lyrical, music can invoke powerful emotions within each of us because it has been a part of our culture for generations. Music can also be written to reflect personal life experiences and tragedies of all kinds. Imagine expressing something, as deeply conflicted and emotional as suicide, in music with the capacity to inspire so unreservedly.
During mid-October, I was fortunate to connect with a talented singer and songwriter who tragically had lost her former boyfriend to suicide last year. Ms. Katie Hargreaves, an aspiring musician, artist and actress from the UK, used her skills as a songwriter to pen a passionate song in hopes of encouraging him not to give up. As powerful as any of the words are that a person could use, Ms. Hargreaves named her song "Stay". I can think of no simpler or more transcendent expression, in a song that sounds so sweet, for someone suffering from severe depression to hear.
Released on none other than my 38th birthday, October 10, 2019, the lyrics for "Stay" are as compelling as Ms. Hargreaves' beautifully resonant voice. Once she connected with me and shared her story, the song name and origin alone brought me to tears before I even had a chance to listen to it. The fact that someone not only had the talent, but also the courage to express their hope in a form as moving as music was simply overwhelming. Neither of us could have ever imagined getting to know one another with so many miles between us. Yet, we connected so deeply through a single song and shared life experiences.
This inspiration will last a lifetime.
Ms. Hargreaves has been very hard at work with the November 8th release of her latest song, "Interlude", as well as more music to come. I would like to express my dearest respect to Ms. Hargreaves, as well as everyone in her production team, for working together to make the magic of hopeful inspiration come alive through the power of music.
A song is more than just a song when it reflects the human condition, and touches the hearts and souls of those who hear it. One person can save lives the same as a single song can move mountains within us. To take a single word of hope, as pure as to stay, conveys what I humbly believe everyone struggling in life deserves to hear and believe in. "But if you stay, I will be waiting, I will wait here." Amen.
Be sure to check out Theta's inspiring music today.
"Stay", released 10.10.2019
"Interlude", released 11.8.2019
Full EP will be out early 2020. Follow on music & social platforms to keep updated!
Producer: Shai-li Paldi
|Posted on August 23, 2019 at 2:10 AM||comments (0)|
“Souls and Soulmates”
Poem written by: Jim R. Irion
yet no way to know
they may be thinking of you?
So close yet so far
from that cherished first smile.
What can you possibly do?
No idea at all
who they could be?
You think back
to that Avatar film,
"(She) must also choose me."
You've lived your life.
Too many breaths to count.
Unknown if your lover exists.
Those who haven't found
their significant others,
you know the toll this exacts.
You wonder when.
You weep, then.
So empty and incomplete.
Ever feel as if
your soulmate is within
but just out of reach?
They could be
thinking about you,
writing poems this cute.
Should it be me
I wouldn't have a clue.
I miss every social cue.
Grab the collar of my shirt.
Kiss me you flirt.
I will make breakfast in bed.
If I happen to not
wake up soon enough
I'll buy you flowers instead.
I know how this feels...
Wondering why you are here.
Everyone has found someone.
I know I'm inexperienced.
Too many relationship gaps.
Could I be a father to your children?
Too much going on?
If you're not ready yet
I kinda feel that way too.
Whatever you do,
whomever you choose,
I'll be right here waiting for you.
|Posted on August 20, 2019 at 1:10 AM||comments (0)|
“I Could D;e Tomorrow”
Poem written by: Jim R. Irion
People who do not know what lies
behind these dull brown eyes.
Too preoccupied with your lives,
nor the time to ask me why.
Unfamiliar with mental health.
Inexperienced with how to help.
It's some of those who know better
that have made life a living hell.
People who have been intolerant
of free speech and opinion
have claimed to be anti-stigma,
but exclude me from their agenda.
"Stuff your "all due respect," Jim",
followed by blocked on Facebook.
Oh what bigotry I have been gifted
for just a single election vote.
People who identify as LGBT
have been encouraged to hate me.
Sympathy for his cancer scare.
Let me know what the tests show.
"Message me, say one bad word...
I will contact the law" (on you).
A threat for being compassionate?
He is popular and protected.
I hope he has no cancer, though.
Even if he punches me again in public.
I pitched my anti-bullying article
to another who blocked me on Facebook.
"im not sure this is of any interest
to anyone in the group".
Such ignorance from an LGBT member
bullied on a bus three years ago.
People who are so deeply consumed
by pettiness and bigotry...
What were those subtle "signs" again?
The ones many are late to see?
This intolerance, anger, and hypocrisy
is inexcusable if you ask me.
After all I could die tomorrow,
and would be missed by so many.
Not missed like that. I'm sorry.
As if I do not exist at all.
A cherished several, maybe fifty
if I am lucky and likeable,
would actually miss me when I'm gone.
More than I may ever truly know.
Bless your hearts. I love you all!
You know exactly who you are.
So, this could be a suicide note
to end my pathetic life.
It could easily be one day to live
before I die from a weakened heart.
What if I suffered through addiction,
or struggled with cancer?
I learned from Martin Luther King Jr.
Judge by content of character.
My Dad once taught me:
do not throw stones in someone's path.
One thing I learned from suicide:
all lives matter no matter what.
Can this world still be saved?
Just re-read this poetry.
Share it with those who hate you,
because I care about them too.
I've never believed in my future,
and in fact I still don't.
I am doing what I believe I must do.
I will make it. I have to.
I might not know how to save myself.
If there is a single breath in me
I will not give up on th;s.
Neither will I give up on you.
|Posted on August 18, 2019 at 1:00 AM||comments (0)|
Thanks to Mr. Oryx Cohen, Chief Operating Officer of the National Empowerment Center, on August 9th the NEC was the first formal publisher to accept my article on youth and adult bullying. An article which, earlier this year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) had considered for publication as well. While I cannot thank Mr. Cohen enough, it is not overselling to emphasize the impact bullying has on our society.
Unfortunately, now more than ever.
I am an unknown in the mental health community burdened by the experiences and knowledge of what th;s is like. Much like actor Robert Downey Jr.'s character, Tony Stark, I am also a futurist and with the Advocate personality (INFJ). For the last three years, I had to put employment pursuits on hold because of crippling career indecision. "All these years, I have never been able to choose an occupation without feeling I don't know what to do with my life." Who can relate to that? I have no retirement fund flush with ample preparation contributing funds towards my future. What future? Though, all things considered, not nearly as bad as some even I will admit.
Oh I'm still young being in my late thirties.
To be fair though, consider some of the feelings I have lived with for a decade and a half or more - and - without conventional treatment until last year.
Am I happy? Why am I here? Why am I still here? Do I belong in this life? Am I meant or ever going to find true love? Am I worth it? (I know much more about my diagnoses now, but still) what is wrong with me? Why am I so cursed that I cannot decide on a direction for gainful employment? Most other people have. They have their families, children, and social circles. One of the worst of all is feeling as if I am running out of time. I may potentially be diagnosed with Chronophobia, or the fear of time-related stressors such as New Year's Eve. Perhaps one of the most ironic fears to have as a human being who was born, lives, and eventually will die. It is inescapable.
Yet, here I am. Still. What grips my heart more than all of this intense sorrow is having lived in a world where children younger than age twelve, when my first mental health symptoms emerged, have already taken their own lives. Many of whom have been victims of abuse and bullying that never should have happened in the first place. Let alone as they've grown much older into adulthood. Consider all the facts and circumstances you want. Blame skin color, economic background, who foolishly voted for who. It is unacceptable to go out of your way to be mean to someone else unless it is swiftly followed by the most sincere and honest apology.
I know not where my life will take me in the dreaded next '10 years from now'. Yet, I recognize a problem I can do something about. Not for me. For everyone else but me. I feel a great sense of responsibility. So, I am taking the pieces of my life, of my heart and soul that are left, pressing my feet into the ground, and motioning with my right hand to bring it on. Standing alone on the battered hill near the end of the film, Avengers: Endgame, Captain America knew he stood no chance. Yet, as I quoted in my first NAMI Blog, "I can do this all day."
Whatever ;t takes.
My article on youth and adult bullying does not take a side. It takes a stand. Against youth and adult bullying that affect people every day even to suicide, it takes a stand now when your lives matter most. It matters how people are treated started here, but it will not end here because Mr. Oryx Cohen has been the first to give it a chance. Hopefully, the first of many.
To my credit of having watched so many cartoons as a kid, I created an inspiring Success Kid meme demonstrating my unabashed gratitude for Mr. Cohen's decision to republish my article. And, no less, under their Trauma section. Upon receiving this meme, he decided to share it on the NEC Facebook page as well. When tomorrow is as fearful as the day that never comes, opportunities like these are what make me possible.
Thank you, Oryx and the National Empowerment Center. Thank you very much.
Alas, I am a nobody no more.