Journeyman's Row
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More of the unexpected

Posted on January 19, 2017 at 1:05 AM

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.

Categories: Inspirational, Famous People, Barriers, No More

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