Journeyman's Row
         Discovering tomorrow's future starts by discussing yesterday & today.

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I know I am not alone

Posted on September 24, 2019 at 2:45 AM Comments comments (0)

"You are not alone" has yet to be helpful, because no matter how identifiable someone is my life situation has still remained relatively unchanged. That does not mean I have been sitting here obsessing over negativity with too much time on my hands. You are not alone is a positive form of honest encouragement to share with someone who may be dealing with challenging mental health symptoms. When I encourage others to believe they are not alone in their struggles, I say it with conviction. I am an honest, tell-it-like-it-is kind of person. I would also rather be realistic so I can tailor my encouragement to each person's needs and make a stronger connection. Even while I struggle to hang onto my own life by a bare thread. What makes my experience with mental health more difficult is with how I blend in so well to even my friends around me.


Typically those with my degree of prolonged depression and advanced anxiety symptoms have poor hygiene. I dress well and when volunteering in the community always present a professional, well-kept appearance. I was also raised to be this way. There are people whose mental health inhibits them from functioning or learning to the point of disability. I have a college degree; a Bachelor's of Arts degree in History with a Criminal Justice minor despite having Autism and ADHD. I come from a middle class background and happen to have a roof over my head still because my parents can afford to. This doesn't make me a spoiled rich kid who is lazy when it comes to making career decisions. My appearance, intelligence, functionality, or economic background should not be the basis of judgments.


When I admit not having much left in my otherwise normal looking life to keep me here, I should not be regarded as a heathen either. Suicide attempt survivor or not. I am being honest and shouldn't be stigmatized no matter how negative I am. When I reach out it isn't because I want to be a pain in your ass, or look its Jim Irion he's got issues. I won't respond or I'll ignore repeated messages he sends on social media. When I don't reach out it is because I am either paranoid of having offended you, feeling guilty for messaging too much, or doubtful that you want to hear about my otherwise under-achieving life. Despite all this, I still have people insist I talk to someone about my feelings. Well, the problem is I have tried and failed. My needs versus someone's happy-go-lucky life. Stalemate.


I suppose the biggest paradox of all is how I live and breathe while people know 'my signs' yet seem oblivious to my mental health. Numerous times in recent weeks I have contemplated, for only moments, what if I just ended my life right now to see who would actually care. It's a shame I couldn't do a 'George Bailey' from It's A Wonderful Life with Clarence the guardian Angel. I despise how people say they wished they'd seen the signs after a person's suicide. I am as close to another attempt as I could ever hate to be. Yet, people all around me know about my mental health and seem I don't know... blissfully ignorant? As I continue to exist under such extreme emotional stress, I can still be a capable advocate because of who I am.


I am sincere. I am considerate. I am compassionate. I am passionate. I am loving. I am forgiving. I am mindful. I am alive. I am also honest.


So, when I say that suicide prevention needs to be taken more seriously I am literally speaking from fresh, first-hand experience. First-hand as in the mere minutes before posting this.

You are not alone...

Posted on September 24, 2019 at 2:45 AM Comments comments (0)

One of the scariest things I could admit right now…

…is just how close I feel to letting go.


Make no mistake about both the honesty and reality of my answer. Yes. I honestly do not feel enough is keeping me here invested in my life. Is this a suicide note? No. I've never written one even though that didn't stop my attempt sixteen years ago. Am I trying to be the center of attention? Only for as long as it takes you to read this. How recent are these feelings? Mere minutes ago. Why haven't I gone to the local Crisis Center? They cannot help. Believe me. I've considered it more than once. But Jim! You must. Or at least talk to someone who can help you get through this moment. I've tried but fewer people have reached out to me or who are capable and willing to listen. Most are rightfully busy with their own lives, their own families, children, pets, and hobbies. Some happen to be overwhelmed with their own mental health issues...


Can you see a pattern beginning to emerge?


There are a lot of contradictory facts about my experience which do not fall within common "norms" for mental health. What will really bake your noodle later on is the fact that I could easily keep going. Allow me to demonstrate. My not wanting to go to the Crisis Center is not from being stubborn or resistant. I am an over-thinking person. Therefore, for me many cognitive behavioral therapies often do not work. I simply defeat the purpose by assessing myself and knowing what I feel would help. When I say that Crisis cannot help I am telling the truth. When someone tells me I am not alone I never really feel comforted. When someone tells me not to give up I struggle now to hang on, because I've already given these issues a chance to be resolved.


Oh you will find someone someday only for it to be twenty years later and no special 'someone' at all. How very discouraging.


What may strike you as remarkable is that I am still here within minutes of saying such negative statements. But I am an advocate for positive mental health awareness. I need to be positive whether for myself or anyone who reads my writing. Smile. Things will be alright. Things will be alright when people stop labeling me like everyone else they see. I love to take different points of view in my writing. So, why not take a page from my own advice. Several times my counselor has asked me how I expect to help people if I actually feel so lost. What would I say to myself as a mental health advocate? There are people all around me. People who can and eventually will listen when I need someone to reach out to. However, during the last two weeks, I have stopped messaging people on social media to test what would happen. Few people have reached out to me...


I am experiencing both the effective and ineffective points of view as a mental health 'consumer'.

When tomorrow ;s as fearful...

Posted on September 6, 2019 at 2:45 AM Comments 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*.

Souls and Soulmates

Posted on August 23, 2019 at 2:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Souls and Soulmates”

Poem written by: Jim R. Irion



Somewhere nearby

       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?


Guesses galore.

       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.

Advocate Of Steel

Posted on August 21, 2019 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)


I Could D;e Tomorrow

Posted on August 20, 2019 at 1:10 AM Comments 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.

Thank you, Mr. Oryx Cohen.

Posted on August 18, 2019 at 1:00 AM Comments 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.




"We are thrilled to have published a new article on the impact of bullying by Jim Irion!"

Alas, I am a nobody no more.

Why do ;t?

Posted on August 15, 2019 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

(edited; previously posted on TheMighty.com)



After I started accomplishing nationally published writing since October 11, 2018, one thought in particular has stood out more in my mind.


Why do ;t?



Why risk my professional reputation in this County when, for one, I have not settled on a career yet? Neither do I have a job (career anxiety/indecision is my biggest problem). If I out too much information, I might not be able to obtain gainful employment because employers could discover my work and frown upon the writing. If this were to happen, the resulting stigma could ruin my chances of getting a job. It may already have...


Why risk my personal reputation in this volunteer/community when any potential backlash or discrimination could also affect my employability? Most volunteer communities typically include any number of community leaders such as local government, non-profit organizations, and people working in the specific field they volunteer for. With any mistakes or social missteps I make, trivial opposition to my background such as political views or election voting, any one single community leader could easily disrupt my ability to be an advocate. And much worse...


Why risk my specific mental health when, in late 2016, I hadn't even reached out for conventional treatment options yet. Personally, I am late to having the bulk of my mental health issues diagnosed and formally treated. At the time, I had no one to turn to for guidance either. I could have easily put myself at great risk without the safety net of helpful modern mental health treatment.


Why risk alienating people that I need the most outside of formal treatment: friends and family? In my situation, the top two by far are my Mom and Dad with whom I still happen to live. Mental health is not widely accepted, or fully understood, by enough people yet. By pursuing diagnosis and treatment, or especially advocating about it publicly, I risk stigma from people I care about and need to be supportive of me. Imagine someone as close to you as a best friend, parent or guardian, who turns their back on you because of your mental health...



Why do ;t?


Why do any of th;s?



Well... The answers may seem as simple as th;s is worth it, or all of you who read this (and millions more) deserve and need a strong voice for awareness and advocacy. Believe me; the drive to help others can be powerful. I also happen to have the Advocate personality type (INFJ), which makes me more driven to help others. Additionally, I am an empath who perceives and processes emotions from others much more than an average person. I am driven to do more for helping people while I also feel much of their pain along with my own. There is no one simple answer.


Our lives, our struggles, and very much so our mental health issues, are a journey we must undertake with great care. Please, do not wait any longer than you have to for pursuing or discovering the right, affordable treatment options you feel you need.


There will always be someone in your lives somewhere to help guide you along your way. Always. If not, look up to me. I started without anyone to turn to. Now, I seek to fill that void by lighting the way for others.



Worth ;t.



Worth. Every. Single. Smile.

Priceless.

The other side of Mental Health

Posted on August 15, 2019 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

(previously posted on TheMighty.com)



From time to time, you are likely to hear common phrases of positive encouragement, see or participate in mental health events that really connect with you on a personal level. Someone could say you are not alone in what you face with your specific issues. They would be correct, honest and certainly sincere. Taking each step of an AFSP-sponsored Out of the Darkness Walk for suicide awareness may provide just the right amount of hope you need at that precious moment. Being around so many people in such a positive atmosphere can help heal in a very effective way.


But what about those days, those moments where it is difficult for anyone to make you feel strong enough no matter what is said or done?


What about those complicated mental health issues? The ones that are difficult to address or talk about, if you happen to have anyone you can genuinely talk to?


Feeling driven to help others as a mental health advocate, but you only just started your mental health recovery or perhaps only recently actual treatment. You have no one to reach out to for guidance or help. When you do, you reach out to the members of the volunteer community only for some of those mental health professionals and volunteers to stigmatize or discriminate against you. Suicidal thoughts but not actually being suicidal. Or a close friend who has passed away because of addiction yet what they did was their fault.


How do you cope with issues like these?


There are experiences we deal with which are not always going to be easy to overcome. Neither will they seem to be resolved when we want or need them to. There are those of us who feel like we have to try twice as hard compared to others around us. To not see through positive comments as if they are not truthful or honest.


To be honest, 'you are not alone' has never really helped me. Why? Maybe it is because one of my dominant traits is to over-think most things. The 'I can get through this' mindset I took in years past now feels like a lie. Every time someone says everything will work out for me I find myself in disbelief. Why? I feel so much anxiety from diagnosable Chronophobia (fear of time-related stressors; New Year's Eve) yet my physical health is reasonably good. Wow. Wait... What? There is a fear of time? Who the heck has that?


What do you do if your feelings or mental health issues fall between the cracks of what is easier to cope with?


When I started my mental health advocacy website nearly three years ago, I came up with a quote to describe how to deal with such challenging situations. "Discovering tomorrow's future starts by discussing yesterday and today." (my words). In simple terms, the key to these issues is to discuss them. Talk about them with your family doctor, an agency that offers case management who can help get you financial assistance and guidance towards treatment, or your counselor.


Talk about these challenging topics amongst friends, family, and loved ones who are acceptant and understanding of your mental health needs. Doing so will help you better understand what to do, why you act or feel the way you do, what treatment options may help better than what you've been doing. I had been seeing my counselor for seven months when she figured out one of my basic problems with anxiety and depression. Not long after, she suggested I be assessed for Autism Spectrum Disorder.


Guess what?


I am about to be diagnosed for the first time with Autism. We wouldn't have reached this level of understanding about my challenging symptoms if we had not discussed every bit of what I experience. And believe me; even my Psychiatrist has said I don't fit the normal parameters for diagnosis and treatment. Nothing like a highly experienced mental health professional telling you that you are unique in ways you might kid about with your friends. I'm cool with that. Every day I seek to own that uniqueness about myself, too.


As a mental health advocate, thanks to NAMI Submissions since last October I am very lucky to have had my writing published nationally. For you because difficult mental health issues, such as what I live with or have seen others struggling from, are not just a bull whose horns I want to grab. You are not alone doesn't help everyone feel positive about themselves. Coming together in groups for treatment or volunteer work doesn't always make people feel stronger about themselves.


That is a problem I not only know too well, but feel I can focus on with a purpose and make a difference that matters. Who feels suicidal thoughts but aren't suicidal? I do, for one. These challenging topics to address are some of the most important issues with mental health. So, if I am lucky again, be sure to check back here in case TheMighty does choose to republish my writing. I have plenty more in store and a renewed passion to talk about stuff that is difficult for people to talk about. After all...


"Discovering tomorrow's future starts by discussing yesterday and today."


And there is no time like the present.

Pardon the pun...

Th;s just in

Posted on August 15, 2019 at 4:00 PM Comments 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.


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