|Posted on September 6, 2019 at 2:45 AM||comments (0)|
(originally posted on TheMighty.com)
"So many battles waged over the years... and yet, none like this. Am I destined to destroy myself, or can I - can we change who we are and still live? Is th;s fate truly set?"
(adapted from Patrick Stewart, X-Men: Days Of Future Past film)
Unlike before I chose to face my mental health in late 2016, every day since has been an almost daily battle for me. Yes, it is true I made an extra commitment to advocate for awareness. This was also done without anyone to mentor me. So, when I say I am a grassroots mental health advocate I really did start all on my own. All alone. I felt a calling to help people like me because, knowing what th;s is like, I could not live with helping only myself.
Regardless of having chosen to be an advocate, with extra responsibilities and stress, I still had to 'know thyself' too. I needed to reflect on past and present experiences in order to learn from and share them with other people. Mental health recovery takes time. However, I also began to over-think my daily life in ways I had not done before. The passage of time also played a greater role as I turned thirty five, and now soon thirty eight. Not old but I have been around long enough for my symptoms to have had greater consequences.
Because it took me until October 2018 to reach out for full treatment, several of my affected personality traits are tough to address. Not impossible, but still challenging. Sixteen years ago, my suicide attempt bears a striking resemblance to my life today. My days were numbered. I was living on borrowed time. It seemed as if I was on the verge of emotional collapse despite appearing outwardly normal. What about now? Forget seeing my reflection in a mirror every day. Simply letting my mind wander, to think where my high school classmates are compared to me... Too many words for a simple sentence.
Sure I can say I'm still here. Sure I can reassure people they can each overcome their issues. Even suicide ideations, losing a loved one, a dear friend, or themselves having attempted too. Sure I can be honest that not everyone will make it, and offend some people in the process. Heaven forbid. Although I don't have a life-threatening illness, or live in poverty, I can say that still being here is not because I am "privileged", special, or have it easy. I am hard on myself enough as it is. As my counselor describes, I am my own worst bully.
When tomorrow is as fearful as the day that never comes...
...even being only in your late thirties can feel like a death sentence. But I can also tell you something much more unexpected coming from a suicide attempt survivor. Something that isn't clouded by doubt, skin color, gender, political views or voting preferences, not by race, economic background, intelligence or religious beliefs.
Choose a side? I have.
It's called *life*.
|Posted on August 15, 2019 at 4:00 PM||comments (0)|
(edited; previously posted on TheMighty.com)
If you think depression and anxiety symptoms are hard to deal with on a daily basis...
...try living without proper diagnosis or conventional treatment for at least 20 years. And I'm only in my late thirties.
Sure I lasted this long without treatment (for most of my symptoms), though I definitely would not recommend it. Think of the thoughts that have rip-roared through my mind for all this time. Think of what goes through my mind now, because of being so late to treatment yet so deceptively young.
Sometimes I just feel like a prisoner in my own skin. Who actually stares out from behind these brown eyes? As if I am destined to struggle with things often taken for granted. Do I belong here? Am I meant to find true love? Why keep trying? People hate me. I don't deserve to be acknowledged that I exist. Have I enough strength left to face the loneliness of despair, hatred of the haters, and the certainty of the unknown.
As if that wasn't enough...
I am shamed because of being honest and brave enough to share my story ("unwanted recovery story"). The stigma I've faced so far has been from mental health practitioners and community volunteers who claim they are against such stigma. Without enough support behind me, I am powerless against such influential people.
I am hated because of my sexual orientation ("straight" privilege). I've never been homophobic or abusive towards anyone. Whether my critics like it, accept it, or not, I am not anti-LGBT. I. Am. *Anti-bullying*. That is not being neutral or helping the so-called 'enemy'.
I am despised because of my skin color ("white" people, "white" privilege). Since I first learned about the Civil Rights Movement in Junior High School, I've been strongly anti-racist from being inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. Judge by content of character. Amen.
I am feared because of my gender ("toxic masculinity"). I've felt incredibly guilty about this for a long time, because of immoral abuse, violence, and murder of women and children by men every single day. Frankly, there are times I'm ashamed of being a guy. Having to face additional stigma on top of this though, does not make my life any easier.
I am bullied because in some way, somehow, people see me as "the enemy". Troubled individuals who have nothing better to do then lash out at those around them. Either that, or spread rumors behind my back that they know are not true. Even some who go to Church and claim to be pious. I do not, nor will I ever bow down to social stereotypes or self-appointed 'justice warriors' who, in many cases, are nothing more than hypocrites themselves.
Enough is enough with tragedies like Columbine, or the first suicide I ever lived through (9th grade). Not now when you decide to be 'woke' because of your social media narcissism. Anyone can be racist. Anyone can be hateful. And everyone who is should be held accountable with uncompromising fairness. Just like anyone is susceptible to take their own lives from being treated so negatively. Unacceptable.
Yet, I still stand back up because "I can do th;s all day". How? Sometimes I wonder. I am fortunate that I can. Those who cannot never find that happiness in life they long for so much. Only moments of wretched s;lence. They deserve more. A helluva lot more. We can do better. I've seen it, too. All those beloved, caring people... You know who you are. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!
Th;s is why I feel so driven to bring together a group of remarkable people. Grit, courage, shield and all. To help put bullying behavior, stigma and hatred on notice. To begin a trend where it is no longer socially acceptable to go out of your way and be mean towards others.
I am not going to stop being a compassionate person no matter how, why, or by whom decides to hate and bully me. Not now. Not ever. I care for life.
Th;s guy is here to stay.
So should you be.
|Posted on July 26, 2019 at 3:45 PM||comments (0)|
Being able to inspire someone to feel stronger about themselves, because I truly believe in them, is a gift I relish.
I am perhaps one of the more realistic and unique people you may ever find. The combination of being an optimist (thanks Mom), a pessimist (thanks Dad), tell-it-like-it-is honesty, yet so incredibly compassionate that I can and also choose to tailor my empathy for each person's situation all with a natural talent for expression. I swear I never say the same positive encouragement twice, neither do I like to.
I try to come up with new inspirational expressions to be as original and genuine as possible. Plus I like the challenge (and I have a natural talent for over-thinking, too). For example, I've heard how people often say about being a good listener. The same can be said for 'You are not alone'. Both are true and positive. I take them a step further.
I never tell someone only what they want to hear just to make them feel better (optimism). Or I would feel as if I was not being honest. Naturally, I can't be too negative or what I'd say would do more harm than good (pessimism). My balance is the realism in between. So, each time in my writing, I believe in what I say or I wouldn't be saying it at all (honesty).
I don't believe in someone just because it is the right or necessary thing to do. I know what th;s is like. It is often said everyone's experiences with mental health are different. What works for one person probably won't work for someone else. Too true. The same thing can be said about 'You are not alone', because that phrase has never helped me.
I have been a mental health advocate for nearly the last three years. There were no instructions or mentors. I was driven by simple desperation to resolve my own issues (late to treatment; October 2018), but also a deep longing to help people. A lot of people. Although not original, I noticed the word "impossible" and changed a negative into a positive with just a single keystroke (i'mpossible). Talk about power; empowerment you can wield too.
Sharing this kind of inspiration is what I live for.
I push extra hard to accomplish more. I'm a fighter. Quitting is not an option for me. I am also tired of either in myself or seeing others just 'getting by' each day. When I write, I seek to help you become as strong and inspired a person as I possibly can. It matters very much how you are treated.
Not all of you. Each and every one of you, instead. Why settle for only just getting by each day? I want to help people like you become more. I want you to become the equivalent of an Avenger; taking the negatives of your lives and uplifting the best in you so you can take on your life with the strength of a superhero.
Welcome to the Team.
|Posted on June 29, 2019 at 2:10 AM||comments (0)|
I have not often announced new or inspired quotes I happen to add to my advocacy website's Words of Wisdom page. This one, though, I could not resist drawing your attention to.
When I went to see the Avengers Endgame re-release on June 28th, I was fortunate to get acquainted with a very thoughtful and spirited fellow Marvel fan. He had moved a long distance back to this area, after his mother passed away, for helping to take care of his father. Among many favorite film moments and actors we compared, I fondly appreciated his camaraderie while being there for the one-day-only re-release.
During a scene in the film when Tony bonds with his father Howard in the past, all of a sudden a thought came to mind. This fan, who was seated behind me, had accompanied his elderly father to the theater. Beforehand, he told me he had seen a number of the previous MCU films with him. When I saw the father-son scenes on screen, I thought of them and soon thought about my own father as well as my paternal grandfather. Back in 2007, he lived here with my parents and I taking care of him for a year before he passed away.
In the blink of an eye, my ever over-thinking mind unexpectedly came up with an adaptation to the Biblical reference about sins of the Father. There is a lot I will likely never share publicly about my father. That is simply how I was raised, what I will always believe and encourage. But quite often the negatives between him and I overshadow positive moments. All too often actually...
In my constant quest to take negatives in my life and make them into genuine positives, I thought of something to add to that Biblical reference. No offense intended, sins struck a negative one-sided point of view about fathers. I felt compelled to balance that idea with a positive as if to complete it. Here is the new quote I have added to my Words of Wisdom page:
"Sins of our father; wisdom of our father."
Speaking about parents, yes our fathers (and mothers) sin or wrong us as everyone errs in their lives. We are only human. This is not meant to be an excuse either. There are many times when I find myself only seeing the negative of my own father. During these last few years, I have strived to change that in myself and maintain a forgiving, objective point of view about him.
In doing so, I realized a more complete way to characterize the good and bad in our fathers using my adaptation reference. To be personally honest, there are times when my Dad and I seem as if we are bitter rivals even to this day. But I will never lose sight of the wisdom my Dad has instilled in me. Nor will I ever, ever forget the priceless value that wisdom has had for making me who I am - st;ll here - today.
That very same wisdom I have yearned to share more and more in my advocacy writings for all of you who follow my journey.
"Do not throw stones into someone else's path." my Dad.
"The most important thing is to have your own opinion." my Dad.
"Just keep plugging away." my Dad.
And many, many more...
|Posted on June 9, 2019 at 1:00 AM||comments (0)|
Before I begin, I would like to dedicate this post to Nicole Ross. You, Ma'am, have met your match in someone who will not forget your courage to speak out about the truth of addiction. This post is for you, the many people suffering from or affected every day by addiction, the loved ones no longer with us because of it, and so many more tragedies.
For those who are new to my writing, hello and welcome to my advocacy website blog. Thank you for taking the time to read this particular entry despite its longer length.
I am a grassroots mental health advocate in recovery with a focus on anti-bullying and empowerment. To date, I have two nationally published NAMI Blogs (Oct. 11th, Nov. 1st) plus a third coming out in September. Be sure to check them out, as well as inspirational quotes listed under Words Of Wisdom. My determination to accomplish more as an advocate, this journey, is as passionate as you will find my way with words. Join me as I discuss what I recently learned about grieving for the loss of someone whose death was no one's fault but their own.
Certain details that will follow may be emotional for some who are sensitive to discussions about tragedy, addiction, and/or true suicide. Please. I encourage everyone to take as much care and time as you need in order to absorb what I have to share.
Remember Nicole, this is for you.
You own this moment.
My name is Jim Irion. I was named after my maternal 'namesake' Uncle, Jim Allis. Or as I like to remember him, "Born on the 4th of July (1952); died on April Fool's Day (1973)." Tragically, he was only three months shy of his 21st birthday with all manner of life ahead of him. My Uncle died in a car accident a total of three thousand one hundred and fifteen days before I was born (1981). A full eight and a half years, plus ten days. So, I never knew nor met him. More importantly, the accident that took his life was not someone else's fault.
The fault was Jim Allis' and his alone.
Just over a week ago, a former high school classmate of mine, named Jeremy, met an untimely end through unfortunate mistakes and poor decisions related to addiction. I had not seen him since graduation a lifetime of nineteen years ago. When I did know him, Jeremy was a unique kind of special. Easy going, laid back, charming as can be. When I heard what happened within hours of his confirmed death, I was shocked. From what little I know his passing, his mistakes as of late, were his own fault and no one else's.
Using what I'd learned through mental health advocacy, I wrote a very thoughtful and sincere condolence for his loss. Soon after, a close friend of mine urged me to make the Facebook post public. Once I did, someone close to Jeremy's family reached out to me. Bless her heart. You know who you are. I owe you one. Why? Well... Despite my years with mental health symptoms, while being very perceptive to tragedies around me, I discovered something unexpected about Jeremy's death. A lesson I'd unknowingly learned during my youth.
My namesake Uncle Jim, and former high school classmate Jeremy, both have something very important in common with each other. How are their deaths, a whole forty six years and however many miles apart, related to each other and in a way I could learn anything positive from them? It was their fault. How could someone, anyone, even a close relative or best friend, be able to grieve for a lost loved one who made bad choices that ended their lives?
Here is where my journey of compassion and forgiveness has now come full circle.
During the years after my parents told me who I was named after, I took personal responsibility for my Uncle Jim's tragedy. I didn't just mourn his death because I was young and didn't know better. I felt as if I was a twin-less twin experiencing survivor's guilt. I even developed a fear of car accidents, called dystychiphobia, as I got older through into high school. The tragic deaths of two classmates, Lynnette and Jason, made the phobia a permanent part of my life. But why?
I simply wanted to know my late Uncle Jim, even though all he and I will ever share are the same first name. No handshake. No hug. No pat on the back or words of encouragement. Nothing but a five-letter name...
In his letters home from college and anecdotes from living relatives, my Uncle Jim was a wonderful person to know. He had dreams of a career in mathematics (which I am horrible at, by the way), aspirations for a wondrous future, a "love of life", as well as a classmate with a crush on him whose heart was shattered when Jim died. I wanted to know where, when, how, and why he died by his mistake, because I felt I had to make sense of it. I was searching within myself for a proper way to grieve and cope with his loss. At the same time, I was also yearning for a way to genuinely forgive him.
But it was my Uncle's impatience to rush back to Brockport State University on that fateful April Fool's Day. It was his foul mistake to try passing that semi-truck trailer on a blind corner no-passing zone. At the time, my Uncle's Chevy Nova only had lap belts for restraint. I have no doubt my maternal Grandparents had raised him well, which included teaching him how to drive. No doubt at all. By all accounts, Jim was a capable and competent person. Yet, his one bad decision cost him his life. I moved on from this as best I could while I was growing up.
Fast forward to late May 2019. I, along with many others who cared about my former classmate, Jeremy, have had to face his unfortunate passing. What happened? What really happened? Why did he die? The first and most important thing I did was not to jump to conclusions. Besides, I scarcely knew anything about what happened or that led to his death. No assumptions. No hateful or ignorant comments made on social media. No stigma. I waited until confirmed information came out. Even now, there are a number of details still unknown. Some that may never be known.
When it was clear Jeremy had fallen into the trap of drug addiction that is a difficult truth to cope with. Like every single one of us, drug addicts do have a choice to not do drugs as we have the choice to not be ignorant towards others. Who cares? He would have probably died at some point. Should have known better. Didn't his parents teach him not to use drugs? Should have sent him to jail. That would teach him (which sounds more like a punishment attitude). Why wasn't he working a full-time job, or getting help for his addiction? He was seeking help, right? If he wasn't then it is his own fault.
Well for one, treatment, recovery, and the path to wellness all take time for everyone whether it is for drug addiction, alcoholism, mental health, and so on. One slip up on any given day could mean tragedy, another run-in with the law, jail time, a near-death experience, homelessness, and more. How many days are there in just a single year to stay clean? Three hundred sixty five opportunities, with twenty four hours each, to make a mistake. Or to not be getting the help they really need to clean up and recover.
In the meantime, staying true to giving up a mind-altering addictive substance gnaws at an addict's mind every chance it gets. Repeated uses of Narcan to reverse opioid effects does not solve the problem either. Even if someone is able to recover drug free, there are issues afterwards that can and still do make life difficult. A past record of addiction related charges can keep them from getting work, and for their closest loved ones to potentially be fired from a job. The fact of the matter is Jeremy had fallen into a tough situation to come back from. At his level, some have made it. Unfortunately, he did not...
On one hand, all things considered Jeremy still had some responsibility with what lead to his death. To just whitewash lawlessness or violence does not do justice or fairness to anyone who may have been affected or hurt. So, I found myself weighing the good and the bad of Jeremy's plight. This was while I continued to get to know the acquaintance of his family who reached out to me. I shared with her about how my namesake Uncle had died, before I was born, in the car accident that was his fault.
In fact... Exactly as I explained to her, I have intentionally reconstructed the same thought processes for all of you here so everyone has an opportunity to experience my discovery firsthand just as I did.
Suddenly, the next day, a light bulb went off in my head.
I was rereading the messages I'd sent the night before when I realized something that honestly I was shocked I hadn't thought of sooner. Want to know why? I am not just a survivor of suicide loss (1997), but also a suicide attempt survivor (2003) as well. A bad choice of its own, which gets far too much stigma just as addiction does. Not only that, and enduring untreated severe depression for more than five years, I have been constantly learning about mental health for the last two years as an advocate. How did I not realize this sooner? I inadvertently learned a very important truth about compassion, forgiveness, mindfulness, and wellness.
How do you cope with and/or grieve for a loved one who tried or has died from their own fault?
The truth is you actually can, and should, properly grieve when a person's death is their own fault (addiction overdose, true suicide such as from PTSD following military service, etc.). There is far more involved in a person's life than any one bad choice or timing. Rushing to judgment, ignorance or hatred, not only skips the opportunity to process these situations and people in a positive way. The chance to genuinely forgive what someone in your life may someday do wrong or hurt others is wasted. Allow me to borrow the words of a phenomenal actor who has had his own past struggles with addiction.
“I shouldn't be alive... unless it was for a reason. I'm not crazy, Pepper. I just finally know what I have to do. And I know in my heart that it's right.” -Robert Downey Jr., Tony Stark (Iron Man).
Bad decisions, bad timing, do not define someone such as Robert Downey Jr., nor should they define my namesake Uncle Jim, me, or Jeremy. A reasonable moment of pause for reflection on facts should be given so the likes of hatred and stigma do not destroy the good worth of anyone's life. As well, if your eyes just went as wide as mine, you picked up on something I actually realized as I was writing these exact words. In. This. Moment.
When you stop and think about all this... exactly how many people are we talking about here that can be affected and/or benefited from a more mindful approach?
Millions of people.
Millions. No joke.
To think that only just a few days ago Jeremy's death was a negative. Now, with tried and tested legitimate wisdom, he has already produced positives in our lives. For a start, that is.
Taking a negative and making it a positive is a cornerstone for positive mindfulness and wellness, as well as compassion and forgiveness. There are so very many negatives out there in this world today (pardon me if I clench my eyes at that particular thought). The least of which are addiction, true suicide, hatred and stigma.
Starting with Jeremy...
Continuing with me...
A better future is possible. How do I know?
Because you are reading this.
You are smiling, crying, teeth-clenched, or fist-pumping.
If when you began reading my blog entry you had assumptions, doubts, questions without answers, or emotions without resolutions, you are now empowered with a very simple truth.
Aug. 4, 1981 - May 29, 2019
Rest in peace, my dear friend.
Rest in peace.
The negatives in your life, and that of millions of others out there, will not be worthless or meaningless anymore. You will not be forgotten, but you won't just be remembered either. Nope. Not enough. Trust me. I know. I've seen people come and go... Names fading from memory... These mistakes, these deaths, being taken for granted as if nothing else can be done to prevent them.
The status quo is not enough.
"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).
We can and will transform your one negative into thousands upon thousands of positives.
Starting with me.
Continuing with You.
|Posted on April 23, 2019 at 1:05 AM||comments (0)|
Before I begin, I would like to dedicate this blog to the Pennsylvania-based anti-stigma drama group, the Go M.A.D. (Make a Difference) Players. For the last ten years, you have had an incredibly unique and positive impact in communities throughout the state. Seeing you perform at this year's local NAMI Conference was truly an experience I will never forget. Take your creativity and courage to the national stage, because so many people could learn a lot from the unbelievable kinds of special you all are. Go make a difference!
"Part of the journey is the journey." My words.
One of the more important things to share about my ongoing treatment is that it takes time for treatment to have a positive effect. If someone is also fighting co-occurring symptoms with addiction, that takes twice the effort to live with it. Mental health recovery does not happen overnight. Treatment takes time.
Treatment needs to be affordable. A resource case manager needs to be someone willing and able to help you. A Certified Peer Specialist needs to care for you properly and compassionately, while making sure not to misguide your treatment by offering inappropriate advice. The right comfort-fit with a capable and dedicated counselor needs to be found - and - maintained. A psychologist or psychiatrist first need to know who they are dealing with. Plus any mental health professionals such as these must be well trained with documented credentials to do their jobs properly.
A single counseling session, even if with the right counselor, is not a cure-all. A psychologist or psychiatrist appointment is not (and should not be) a rush to judgment. Psychotropic medications do not take one week to work at full-effect. Any potential side effects also need to be known and carefully prepared for. The person undergoing mental health treatment must be committed to finding what works for them and seeing it through. All progress must be monitored and assessed by the mental health professionals involved.
Treatment takes time.
Take Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), for example. Or for someone serving in the military deployed overseas. The trauma can become so severe the person experiences nightmares that interfere with getting recuperative sleep. Relationships, marriages, and family lives can be affected. Difficulty differentiating right from wrong and emotion from logic. Even with an effective support system of therapy and medication, treating a condition such as PTSD requires determination, diligence attending to each part of the treatment such as taking regular dosages of prescribed medication, a mental commitment to yourself, hopeful support from friends and relatives around you.
Treatment takes time.
Time is what I would like to focus on, because my how time has flown since I posted the 9 Marvel-themed blog entries one year ago! My life has changed a fair amount since then. In some ways good. In some ways bad... the worst of which I discussed more in the previous post. How, or why, does the Avengers: Endgame film figure into my life (now) versus how Infinity War did last year? I welcome you to join me as I share another unique look into my life ~ Marvel-style.
First, I want to take a quick look back at how I described what I was feeling, and fearing, by quoting an excerpt from my blog "For a reason... Conclusion" from March 19th, 2018.
"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."
My goodness... Was that me? Were those thoughts... mine? I was pumped about experiencing the Avengers: Infinity War film, yes. I was also quite afraid of what my future would hold. When I posted those blog entries during March 2018, I hadn't yet begun any treatment compared to now. I didn't even encounter the brunt of stigma or discrimination at that time. Yet, my expression of or at least my situation was that stressful? Heh. Imagine what life has been like after last summer. It hasn't been boring. I'll say that much.
The easy plus is going from no treatment for the majority of my mental health symptoms to case management (financial aid, health insurance), counseling and psychiatry (one medication so far). While I cannot stress enough the importance of seeking proper treatment as soon as possible, I finally made the decision to seek treatment and turn my life around. Each step I take now is one in the right direction instead of aimlessly down the wrong path. As my treatment team continues to strengthen, I am confident I will have a much greater chance than without it.
An easy minus was weathering the bullying and stigma for being a suicide attempt survivor, plus discrimination by local mental health professionals all in the volunteer community. I still have no way of knowing just how much my reputation has been devastated as a result of what happened... Besides this, what I expressed about my life last year still has not changed very much. But why? I'm in treatment now. What is wrong with me? I am too negative to be around other people. I need to ignore my past and move on with my life. Positive. Positive. Positive. Shame on me for being, what was it, so negative. Correction...
Treatment. Takes. Time.
One of those statements was actually told to me by someone. Rather than use their experience to guide me towards positive treatment, they chose to stigmatize me. Twice. Uh uh. You don't save lives that way. Furthermore, I am a realist by nature. Being a realist also includes a generous helping of honesty, too. I am learning to tailor my realism so I don't send the wrong message as a mental health consumer in recovery, as a community volunteer, and outspoken advocate. Whose responsibility is it that I constantly learn and grow, while still being held accountable for my actions?
Mine, and mine alone.
Furthermore, I would not be able to survive if I was negative all of the time. I balance both forces in my life to work towards inner strength. I haven't lasted so long because this is easy to live with. Trust me when I say if I could always be uber positive, oh I would be.
On the other hand, I am terribly late to seek conventional treatment too. The longer behavioral symptoms go untreated or unchanged, the deeper they influence personality traits making them more difficult to reverse. According to my treatment team, I am suspected of having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder evidenced by how I frequently over-think things. I can remember all, yes, all the way back to - get this - fourth grade when my class was given a particular assignment. We were tasked to explain how to do something and give the presentation in front of the class. Guess what topic mine was?
How to tie your shoes.
Reread that just to make sure it sinks in, because when I tell you how I did on the assignment you will be surprised.
Ready? I over-thought how to explain tying your shoes so much the entire class was confused by my presentation. No offense to myself, they should have been. Cringe worthy... That was then. Probably the early to mid-1990s. Imagine me now. This is why it is important to seek effective treatment for behavioral symptoms. Autism. Bipolar. PTSD. You name it. The sooner treatment is sought the better the outcome may be. What's worse is having lived with prolonged severe depression without treatment...
Aside from experiencing suicide loss during ninth grade in 1997, and my overdose attempt in 2003, just how long am I talking about for these deep feelings of distress? To be as reasonable and fair as I can, and I have already discussed this with my counselor, I expressed feeling 'ready to go' as early as 2013. This was when I drafted an unofficial Last Will & Testament. Normally, doing so is a completely appropriate thing to do. I learned the lesson from having the last of my grandparents pass away several years before then. My parents had to manage their respective family's affairs.
However, between 2013 and by 2014, my depression was getting worse until the latter year I contemplated the suicide plan that I never acted on. Ever since, the last five to six years, I have simply felt so worn out by my prolonged depression experiences that when they surface I often feel ready to go. Keep in mind I did not begin counseling until October 2018 and psychiatry until January this year. Yeah... You should've seen the look on my counselor's face when, in vivid and effective detail, I described what prolonged severe depression has been like for me while taking into account my past suicide experiences...
What I could share would be nothing short of eyebrow-raising.
That is why being so perceptive and especially so expressive is really important for me to take seriously with my life now. Some people have three times as many suicide attempts as I have, and have great difficulty even talking about those feelings. If they can at all. I can. I should. And with great power comes great responsibility. I am not just a genuinely compassionate person at heart. I am not just trying to fill a void in my life by helping others. In my humble opinion, despite my critics I feel I have a responsibility to do everything I can to change the course of mental health awareness and acceptance for the better.
Deep down, do I think my treatment will solve the one most difficult issue facing me this intimidating year (career indecision)? To be completely honest, no. Do I still feel ready to go if my grasp on this life was slipping away? Unfortunately, yes. Right here, right now? Yes. I'm sorry if I let anyone down by being so honest. This is what it is like for what I, personally, have to live with. I have to accept it. I have to live with it.
I also choose not to give up. I give the tomorrows a chance. I keep waking up and trying to put forth effort into my treatment to resolve the problems I have. Whether anyone understands what I'm going through or not. This is my life and my mental health takes real world effort every day to live with. The very nature of my chronophobia (fear of time) creates a mindset which keeps me from believing by October, my 38th birthday, that I will be able to last that long. Next New Year's terrifies me in a way maybe one percent of people closest to me even know let alone fully understand. I couldn't say this sentiment any better myself.
"This is going to work, Jim."
"I know it is. Because I don't know what I'm going to do if it doesn't..."
(first line is adapted, both are from Avengers: Endgame trailer #1)
April 24th, 2019:
|Posted on April 22, 2019 at 1:05 AM||comments (1)|
For all of the Marvel and MCU fans out there (you are awesome, by the way), here is a helpful link to last year's Avengers: Infinity War-themed blog series 'Marvel-ous Moments':
March 11th, 2018:
Before I begin, I want to pay my humble respects to my first resource case manager/coordinator. They were also the first person who facilitated my path into treatment at a troubled time when I needed all the help I could get. I had formed a very close bond before her unexpected decision to move on (two weeks ago). If you are reading this, you will always have a special place in my heart. Yes, I am here. But I wouldn't be where I am without your distinguished guidance when others had failed me. No matter what happens in my life from here, you have been someone I can and will always look up to with gratitude and pride. Thank you for believing in and being here for me when I needed it most. Bless your dear heart.
“Part of the journey is the end.” -Robert Downey Jr., Tony Stark (Avengers: Endgame trailer #1).
[With the following background movie trailer music: Audiomachine - So Say We All]
Part of the journey is the end, but I have not reached mine. At least not yet anyway. Kind of ironic when I think about it to be honest. Very ironic... During April of last year my symptoms were beginning to spike. I felt as though the end of my journey was near. Three and four months later, it almost happened too. I considered the unthinkable while struggling to withstand stigma in my own community from people I thought I could turn to for help.
I survived, yes. Yet, here I am... still suffering the silent treatment from those who were responsible. People who may still believe they did nothing wrong. Well, I can understand that. No, really. I can understand. I am being serious not disrespectful. Think about it. Would you realize you did something wrong until you realized you did something wrong? Honestly, no. So, my heart and my 'door' will remain open to reconcile - and forgive - these individuals at any time.
However, I doubt the silent stigma will be resolved besides the fact it hasn't happened yet. One of the people responsible recently expressed their concern that we need to end this kind of silence (being stigmatized/feared because of your mental health). I couldn't tell if they were being honest, or just doing a stale job acting the part. We need to reach people, they said. You know, and I mean these words with 110% respect for this individual... I. Could. Not. Agree. More.
We do need to reach people. More people. Everyone. End of story. No barriers. No holding back. Stop encouraging stigma. Put an end to bullying. Enough is enough with only one suicide loss. Save lives, plain and simple. Amen.
I could not agree more.
The unfortunate thing is, though... When this person made their statement, I would have loved to speak up hoping to end the silence I have been enduring. To try working towards a mutual and positive resolution with them. How long has it been since everything happened? It's going on 8 to 9 months now respectively. Did I dare speak up in the presence of the rather highly revered mental health professional? Would I have been able to end the silence if I acted first? Nope. But why?
Who am I? I am not a respected community leader or with the 'right' connections. How could two people be so far apart in the same room when 'we' need to reach people? They knew what had taken place yet still had the nerve to claim ending the silence of stigma was a high priority. It is. It should be. For Pete's sake, it should be for everyone. Not just for a privileged inner circle group of best friends or those identifying any which way they may be different from others around them. Take my word for it.
It. Matters. How. People. Are. Treated.
At least I finally realized the theme of my advocacy as a result of the discrimination and stigma I faced. Taking a negative and making it a positive.
Two years ago, this person must have also confidently believed they had psychologist experience and knew better. Even though, with their work background, they had no right to insist I did not have social anxiety disorder. Funny... My counselor would disagree, because she knows what she is doing and is strictly qualified to assess my mental health. What needs to end first are less discussed barriers to mental health acceptance such as hypocrisy and selfishness.
Can you imagine how much worse stigma like this is to endure while also being a suicide attempt survivor? If I hadn't had the inner strength, friends, and family members to support me last summer, I would have reached the nearest cliff to jump from instead. We need to reach people... Sorry for letting my contempt and emotions show so much. Sharing personal experiences with suicide should not be a crutch or used as an excuse. In my humble opinion, at least.
I do not want expressing the worst of what I experience to make anyone feel sorry for me. The best people in my life are capable and willing to hear me out when I need someone. Bless their hearts; you know who you are. So, when I am shunned by those dedicated to ending stigma and achieving mental health acceptance (you know who you are too), it is hard to look in the mirror. It is hard to recognize where I am right now compared to this time last year...
With true suicide rates as they are, you'd think people would actually take mental health acceptance much more seriously. Enough was enough when I lost a fellow ninth grade classmate to suicide. When was this? 22 years ago. That was 6 years before my own attempt, so 16 years since then. When is enough going to be enough? Stop the stigma. End the silence. If your goal is to reach people then reach them. Do not make life difficult for anyone whose life is already difficult enough. Please?
It matters how people are treated.
Not tomorrow. Not the next day. Not when you feel like it.
If someone was in my place and endured what I did, since last summer, but were not as strong, had less peer support, no treatment plan or team in place until they felt there was nothing left for them in this life but to end theirs... Would it really be important what car they drove, where their parents or guardians lived, what their political views or religious beliefs were? Would it really matter any way they may have been different from anyone else? When all they needed was someone to show them a path towards a positive recovery and beneficial treatment.
Why do I take mental health acceptance so seriously? Simple. Lives are at stake. Least of all, my own. I am a suicide attempt survivor. Am I proud? Do I express vibrant, colorful pride for any of my mental health experiences? Am I proud I have had to live with the decision of wanting to kill myself? The stigma lurking over my head whenever I speak of it... No. Experiences like these really put life into perspective. Trust me.
To take this negative and make yet another positive from it, I happen to have a special surprise update to reveal here. During the National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month of September, NAMI has decided to publish my suicide prevention article submission.
My third NAMI Blog!
The timing couldn't be more perfect, neither the honor nor necessity more profound. Suicide prevention initiatives are as imperative as ever. Not only will my article cover a broad range of as many as 7 sub-topics on suicide, my Blog will be searchable for key words at any time on NAMI's website once it is published, and my own polished writing from personal experiences with suicide will be published during the most ideal awareness month when NAMI's extensive audience will be most receptive to it. I know where I will be when it comes time to prepare the final draft during this summer. Still here.
"I am here.
Each of You are here.
We are here, together.
Together, mental health acceptance is possible." My words.
Due in part to the ongoing silent stigma I am enduring, unfortunately I have not reached a positive (end) of my mental health recovery journey yet. Allow me to take this another step further and share with you an engaging discussion about mental health treatment.
April 23rd, 2019:
|Posted on September 12, 2018 at 1:10 AM||comments (0)|
Hello once again and welcome back to following my journey for mental health and acceptance. This is Jim Irion. It is a pleasure to have you with me. Thank you. I must apologize for my absence from blog writing since my July 12th-15th blog series, "aDvOcate onto others". In the weeks afterwards, of all places I encountered additional stigma from within the mental health community here...
I first discovered this troubling trend and had highlighted it in my blog on June 30th. Unfortunately, more clear efforts at stigmatizing me due to my mental health occurred that I did not expect. As a result of the last incident, I spent some time alone to gather my thoughts and regroup my efforts. I honestly had hoped I would not face such inappropriate conduct. Since those involved have considerable influence, I felt I had to remain silent while strategizing my next move. On the other hand, almost as if by a miracle I had a breakthrough with my writing virtually at the same time as this stigma threatened to exclude me from community involvement.
The initial fortune from this new development empowered me to stand up to the stigma here by taking my writing to a whole new level. While I do not wish to disclose what either of these two matters of writing involve just yet, rest assured I will be making an announcement about them in the coming weeks. I want to be as professional as possible with the timing due to the utmost respect I have for the party involved and the opportunity they have offered me. I will then reveal more about my extra efforts at writing in the last four weeks up to today.
So, although this is rather short today I hope you will stay tuned and join me within the next month when I am ready to make the humble announcement. Your patience will be well rewarded.
Remember that, although mental health may not be accepted within your own community right now, never give up hope or falter with your efforts to pursue that necessary acceptance because it is very possible. Thank you, kindly.
|Posted on January 27, 2017 at 1:05 AM||comments (0)|
Just as I began writing about suicide discussion on the 19th, I had been contemplating what to blog about after the suicide arc finished. Yes, I try to stay ahead of the game by that much. I was thinking of course to go after another barrier to mental health, at the time before the US Presidential Inauguration. However, when I posted the first suicide discussion blog on the 20th, I changed my mind about what barrier I wanted to pursue. Given the heated rivalry of liberal supporters here in the US, and the continued ferocious opposition to the elected President Donald Trump, I saw the perfect opportunity of a barrier I could concentrate on while it was fresh in American's minds and people around the world who may read this.
The barrier of politics.
Now, I am referring to global politics of countries around the world when I say what follows, but I will mostly be concentrating on the volatile political climate of the United States. I want to make this absolutely clear by stating for the record that I am in staunch opposition of any efforts to illegitimize, defund, or sabotage positive and effective mental health treatments whatever they may be or where they may be needed. I do not care who is in power. I do not care which US President is in office. Neither do I affiliate my mental health advocacy with any political party of power whatsoever. Period. One of the reasons why is because here in the US every two and four years pretty much dictates policy. I intend this advocacy to last a heck of a lot longer than two years.
I want to clear the board first and prevent myself or any of you from coming under fire by critics. As some of you may have already noticed, I frequently avoid societal labels such as: moderate, conservative, Republican, Tea Party, nerd, white, and white privilege for example. Although I do have a bunch of Bibles in my possession. I have had Liberals claim to me in person that from social media I was a Tea Party supporter. Nope. I especially refuse to align my political beliefs, because our government is so corrupt no matter who you vote for the choice is, as Edward Snowden says, "the lesser of two evils is also Evil". I may by nature be quite indecisive, yet that willingness to see labels such as politics for what they are allows me to be decisive.
On the other hand, having over a decade of confident experience avoiding those same society-imposed labels has improved my objectivity and ability of using critical thinking to my advantage. Now, it is paying off here. At some point or other, politics may play a part in how people get treatment, creation and enforcement of laws that affect us, or targeting violent retribution against people with mental illnesses, etc. If you leave your political affiliations aside, then I will have your back. I know there are a lot of important causes to fight for out there. Cancer being the number one on my mind right now, along with world hunger, poverty, etc. I am not suggesting that they aren't important. This is the time for us to make a difference and create a positive culture for future generations.
Mental health and awareness, such as keeping people like Katelyn Nicole Davis from taking their lives, is as important as any person trying to live a happy and fulfilling life. Everyone deserves that without question or hesitation. Being in such stark opposition if politics doesn't support this cause means eventually I, or any of you, may face stiff opposition. Naturally some of you will feel rightfully and righteously empowered to help mental health, much like I am right now. What I encourage is to carry the non-violence I practice with you when defending this ground we stand on right now. If you conduct yourselves as honest and considerate, even when political tensions have you crawling up and around walls, then we will be able to face anything.
We are, after all, only human. Press the wrong button on me and I'll tell you more than how it is. I know how passionate people can become when they stand up for what they believe in. Naturally, someone is bound to get too emotional and maybe say things out of turn. It'll happen. I felt like going off on Katelyn's step-father when I saw her streamed video, but I didn't pass judgment. Turns out, some thirteen year old kid living in Morocco kept incessantly egging her on to hang herself. How and why she got to the point of the tree involves dozens of factors. I stuck to my ethics and refrained from judging the step-father also because I was not there, nor did I know exactly what all drove Katelyn to do what she did.
If you have differing political beliefs from anything I have expressed throughout my blogging, but feel you don't want to align yourself with my advocacy then I respect that and your decision of free will. If you are tolerant and keep potential differences aside, like I said I will go to the mat for that kind of cooperation. I really respect people who can set aside their differences and work together to achieve a common goal. That gets into lifelong friendship territory for me. One of my top influences for peaceful demonstration and advocating for human rights comes from Martin Luther King, Jr. There are plenty of considerate and helpful ways every one of us can do to help this cause, and learn to become more knowledgeable about how to help in the future. There are also a host of differences to set aside.
But the reason why I am making such an abrupt target of political barriers to mental health is because ever since the US Presidential election last year I have seen nothing but hatred and encouragement of violence from liberal supporters. I know that I may lose some of you for making this distinction, but bear with me because it goes beyond political differences. I have already lost at least one Facebook friend because she unfriended me. What did I do? I resent the friend request to practice what I believe. There is a fine line between standing up for what you believe in and encouraging or engaging in violent action. If you choose to use force when force is not necessary, you will only lose in the end. It doesn't matter what the differences may be. You will be taking monstrous steps backwards and making enemies.
We don't want or need enemies here. It is difficult enough for a lot of us to find acceptance in society to begin with. We want to be tolerant and acceptant because social stigma would have us do otherwise. Social stigma and hatred would have us making this situation far worse without actually helping anyone at all. Social stigma would have us bullying people who don't agree with us or feel as passionate about helping other people as I hope most of you can be. Being considerate and expressing your opinion to someone else in a proper manner is always respectable. But ganging up on someone, especially through the internet, and hammering them until they crack, is just as bad as that Moroccan kid egging Katelyn on to hang herself. That won't fly here and it will not do anything for people who need help.
When a person of considerable influence, status, or popularity, decides to cross that line and spout violence or hatred, to me that goes against what I strongly believe about Martin Luther King Jr. The specific reason that convinced me to target political differences was a remark made by Madonna while at the Women's March this past weekend. And I quote her words, "I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House". Seriously? Do you see the hatred? What exactly is expressing an openly violent opinion, or from your influence inspiring people who look up to you to 'consider blowing up the White House', what is that attitude going to accomplish? Where is the peaceful demonstration? Where exactly is the cooperation to work together?
I won't presume to tell any one of you what to do. You have your destined right to free will and I will never violate that. You have already seen me show you respect by trusting those that decide for themselves whether to join along on this journey and be supportive. Thank you very much, by the way. I hope I have made it clear even to people who differ from my political beliefs to see just how counter-productive hatred and violence can be with all things including mental health. And if someone goes to blow up the White House, guess who will probably get blamed?
WE will be blamed!
Oh some crazy person did it. They must have been suicidal or a basket case. Why didn't they seek help? Why did they resort to violence that outspoken, influential people such as Madonna are encouraging? Oh the loss of life and irrevocable damage done to innocent people who lost their lives in the tragedy... Need I go on? And do you see the ways that true suicide easily gets intertwined with murder-suicide? I know people who orchestrate this kind of behavior will be difficult to face, but each step we take and every bit of progress we make will make a difference. Count on it. We are in this together, and we will have strength in numbers.
Amidst all of this vicious US political tension as of late, one actress in Hollywood had the courage to say the right thing despite the potential for serious backlash. Backlash that has been happening ever since November. I felt that while I am right on the mark about countering political differences to mental health and wellness, I would show my respect for her along with the accomplishments in film that she has made to date.
|Posted on January 19, 2017 at 1:05 AM||comments (0)|
With the lengthy recap of the last one hundred days advocating for mental health and awareness taken care of, I want to begin the next one hundred days by revealing a source of inspiration that I had not expected was important to this website. The reason for this was because the film itself came out in theaters, for the US, on September 16th last year and I hadn't been able to watch it on DVD until just a few days ago after purchase from eBay. Once I watched it for the second time ever, I had an epiphany with how inspiring the film was and then I thought back to when it came out in relation to my website blogging. One plus one equaled two and I knew in my heart I just had to give credit where credit was due.
Even though the film, and the person the film is based on, is very controversial especially here in the United States I simply could not ignore or deny the effect the film and its cast members had on me. Directed by Oliver Stone and starring the gifted actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the film was Snowden. Yes, the very same. The film based on the life and courage of Edward Joseph Snowden between 2004 and 2013. I know some of you hit your breaks as soon as I mentioned his name, if for no other reason than to ask what he or this film have to do with mental health and awareness. Or you have not seen Snowden in the same light I have and feel he is a traitor. Your opinions are well justified and appropriate, but if I may insist there is more here than meets the dotted i.
While both before and after this film hit theaters I personally and humbly believed in Snowden's innocence. Let's face it; very few people were close to the events that surrounded him and what the film is based on. I could sit here and debate the merits of his actions in real life, but it is the value of the film which impressed me the most, in such a way and at just the right time that it served to give me courage I hadn't realized until now when watching the DVD of the film. None of us were there, but the film did as films often can do which was to bring those events and heroism closer to our level of understanding and have them unfold for each of us to experience for ourselves. What any of you take away from this, I humbly hope, is the concept of what Snowden portrays about standing up against an immovable force to do the right thing and make a difference in the lives of other people anyway.
On one hand, it would be a stretch to consider the film as an analogy for social stigma and mental health because comparing it to immoral US Government surveillance spying is simply irrelevant. Right? One thing has nothing to do with the other. What struck me was how one person, Edward Snowden, risked his career, his happiness, his wellbeing, the love of his life, his family, and how he risked his future to do what he felt was the right thing. He sacrificed himself for the hope of helping other less fortunate people. Snowden blew the whistle on a force so powerful that we could cower in front of our own computer screens, and keeps people silent against its influence. If opponents were to speak out they would be shut down and silenced. If you stop there for a moment doesn't this pattern of risk and oppressive behavior sound oddly familiar?
It should. The general forces at work are intimidation, bullying, suppression, pressure, fear and silence; all forces that social stigma uses against people like me with mental health conditions. Bam! It seems that I made that analogy work after all, not that critics of Edward Snowden need to question their judgments. Just keep focused on mental health and I will continue, even though my hands are shaking a bit from the inspiration still fresh in my mind. Essentially and if I am write as portrayed by the film, Edward Snowden sounds like an advocate doesn't he? He chose to stand up against oppressive behavior by his peers and speak out to make the right choice. Based on the principles, this shouldn't make Snowden an adversary any more than I am.
Forget for a moment the fact that Snowden was involved in secret government surveillance and spying across the globe, or for revealing those national secrets to a stunned global population. Set aside your doubts and apprehensions about Snowden and notice the fact that he did stand up against Goliath as David once did in the Bible's Old Testament. How can I possibly compare to Snowden? First of all, I have nowhere near as much overall risk at stake as he did. Hands down. Neither am I trying to suggest I do have that much at stake to come across as conceited. By now, enough of you know me better than that. To be completely honest though, I really wouldn't mind having that much of myself at stake because I truly am committed to the cause of improving mental health and awareness to the point that I would sacrifice as much. I really would.
Secondly, I don't have the level of intelligence or experience moving abroad that Edward Snowden has. The farthest from home I've gone without my family is Chicago in 2003 when I traveled with a best friend on a trip. This alone affords invaluable social experiences and professional opportunities that sets Snowden a world apart from anything I have done up to the present time. He has worked jobs I can't even imagine and made incomes I couldn't dream of for the max $11 an hour I've made to date here where I live. He was fortunate to find an independent and strong willed woman, who not only weathered much of Snowden's stress but also stood valiantly beside him when he was forced to Russia for sanctuary from the Obama administration's US Government influence.
Clearly I cannot compare to Edward Snowden, but this doesn't mean someone as below average and ordinary as me, or most importantly that any of (you) can find powerful inspiration in someone like him. If I've been the honest, genuine, and humble person who I hope I have convinced all of you that I am, perhaps I too can be an inspirational force for good. Like Snowden, and even Gordon-Levitt when he accepted the responsibility of portraying him in the film and potentially risked his career, I too have made the decision to stand up for what I believe in. And I believe that people around the world have the right to have access to the best treatment for any mental health condition they may have, and especially not to be oppressed into silence by social stigma.
However, unseen by everyone are the consequences I am most likely facing from blogging about these controversial topics. I guarantee you the first time I mentioned my weak overdose attempt, which was back on October 20th in my post entitled "Before inspiration came the Dark Side", I bet I popped up on scores of employment radars that will black list me. If not then, I surely was at greatest risk on New Year's Eve after I admitted to my 2014 relapse with contemplating suicide - which I never followed through with. Criticizing the likes of employers, especially larger corporations, for contributing to the fear and stigma that keeps people they employ silent about needing help with mental disorders such as Attention Deficit Disorder, will eventually result in employment rejection quietly based on what I say here.
And I will need a resolution this year to the career anxiety and employment issue, or else my situation will become very precarious. Am I afraid of sharing my experiences particularly with depression and suicidal tendencies? Honestly, I am not as fearful right now and probably until the fear manifests itself in repeated employment rejections and social media backlash against my honesty here. Am I prepared for the inevitable backlash? I may feel confident but I am not ready because I've seen the sheer ferocity with which people like actor Steve Martin are mobbed by bullying haters who hammer a person until they crack. In Martin's case, he decided to take down the heartfelt condolence to Carrie Fisher's passing. I can only hope I have the strength to endure forces that overwhelming...
All comparisons aside, I should give equal praise not just to Snowden but for the very talented actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, to portray him as a very convincing and inspiring individual. Beginning with the film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, continuing with his masterpiece performance in Inception, 50/50, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Walk, Gordon-Levitt has impressed me very much from his ability to act with immense integrity. If I have seen him on screen, I follow his character's every moment and action, so when Snowden came out I knew he was a natural talent and perfect choice as the title character. Gordon-Levitt is very much someone I would love to see in future roles and performing as inspiring characters to test what new heights as an actor that he can achieve.
Mr. Edward Snowden, Mr. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and actress Ms. Shailene Woodley, if either of you read this blog post I want to thank you for being the inspiring people you have been for me and hope that you all can be convinced of my advocacy to share it with everyone you know who could benefit from it. Why Woodley, you ask? Because she portrayed a strong willed, independent minded woman who stood by her husband as Lindsay Mills did when it mattered most. Just because a film is considered and labeled as a box office disappointment, without regarding the film's worldwide success, doesn't mean that the film Snowden isn't worth every second for the true story it portrays. Thank you.
Before I knew how much I had written, just now I took in the length of this post and I feel proud for how an inspirational influence can make me speak so passionately about a topic I believe in. I face adversity as an outspoken advocate for mental health and wellness and I will face worse in the months to come. If nothing else then for what I am about to begin discussing, which has profound consequences to people throughout history and all over the world: suicide.