A View From The Belfry
You know what’s screwed up about me? I'll tell you what’s screwed up about me, but first a little background. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know I’ve had a history of suicidal thoughts. At some times even the urge and plan were there. My method would be a fall from a lethal height, AKA a jumper. I had picked out various spots and everything. On a few really bad moments I stood upon the edge of a height looking down at the ground below. But that’s not what’s screwed up about me. Here’s a fun fact: in my mind I have a constant stream of graphic, sometimes violent, self-inflicted acts, all meant to take my own life. Constant. Not just jumping either. Gunshot, hanging, cutting, vehicular, hell even suicide by cop which I learned is a thing. Like a television on an endless, looped video. For people who know me, worked with me, or have had pleasant conversations with me: did you know I was watching all of these grisly scenes in my mind, all the while maintaining my charmingly witty reparteé with you? I'm watching them right now as I type. Had them while I worked, while I performed on stage, while I’d talk with my kids, and when I had time to myself. So much time to myself. But believe it or not that’s STILL not the screwed up thing about me. Suicidal thoughts are just part of some forms of depression. No, my screwed up shit comes from my inner voice. My inner voice scorns me, absolutely derides me, for not actually trying to complete suicide. It mocks me for even mentioning all of these thoughts to you, saying, “You’re just making up symptoms for sympathy, loser.” If I were truly depressed I should’ve at least tried one of these methods. Such a fraud, such a wannabe, such a poser. A coward. That’s what’s screwed up about me. According to my inner voice, I couldn’t even do Depression right. Oh, and I was downright incompetent at suicide. Maybe I WAS doing it all for sympathy. Maybe I just wanted people to feel so bad about me, it couldn’t help but boost my brand. Or maybe, just maybe I was using this all as an excuse for why I’ve sat on my butt for over a year now — no job, watching cable news all day, and playing Candy Crush.
I mean, everyone has thoughts of their own death, right? We even say “I wish I were dead” when we’re feeling anxious or fearful of something, right? Heck, even John Hughes made an eighties teenage angst film about it. “Better Off Dead” It had DEAD in the title! So thinking about it was just normal, right? Certainly not abnormal enough to use as my excuse for why I quit...quit pretty much everything, right? Aren’t I doing it right now just to get people to read this rag of a blog?
As you might guess, it’s very noisy inside my head. One of the reasons I started this blog was to try to explain to others what goes on inside up there. But for me a more pressing reason was that writing down thoughts was like a release valve, letting out some of the noxious gases that had accumulated up in the boiler that sits above my shoulders. But now I hope to use the energy in those fumes to generate electricity. Like the steam generated from burning coal (my thoughts are just as black as coal) I hope to create energy from something unpleasant. What will that energy do? I don’t know exactly, but there’ll be a lot of it. Endless supply it would seem. Ok, that’s enough of the melodramatic self pity. What can I do with this energy combined with its source (i.e. my experience with depression)? I can get it out into the open. The numbers for people with some sort of mental illness are frightful. For doctors the numbers some how are worse. Estimates of physician depression are anywhere between 1 in 4, to 1 in 3. Why don’t we know more precisely? Well, of course, because so many doctors hide their disease (or they hide from it). The reasons are so many that they’ll need many more blog posts (hooray content!). But one thing I can say here. Letting mental illness stay unchecked in your head for years while you deny yourself help just allows that illness to get better rooted into brain. It starts with the initial disease. Depression, anxiety, panic disorder, whatever. Then it metastasizes into the deepest reaches of your mind, entwining into every facet of your personality so that you stop recognizing who you even were before your affliction. And with every day it goes undetected, untreated, it becomes that much harder to root out. Until one day, for example, you watch constant images of death while a voice accuses you faking it. It’s hard enough to treat mental illness, let alone mental illness made worse because it goes untreated. So I have instead compiled a list of ways for those with even the possibility of mental disease to avoid letting that illness from getting worse, or becoming this resistant, pestilent strain.
Don't be afraid to: 1. Entertain the idea that you might have mental illness 2. Get help 3. Recognize the fact that you might need help 4. Start early getting help 5. Admit that yes, you do need help 6. Let others help you 7. What are you waiting for? Get help 8. Drink plenty of fluids, call your mother sometimes, always wear clean underwear 9. Get help
10. Help others To most of the people with mental illness, this is preaching to the choir. “Welcome everyone, please have a seat, warm-ups will start shortly, no sir, Tenors with Anxiety are over there by the Sopranos with Panic Disorder.” Rather, this list is for people like me, who deny, hide, ignore, or simply can't see their disease. In my defense I was probably about 12 or 13 when this all started, so how could I know any better back then…That brings up another point: it happens in our youth all too often, and we must keep that in mind as we raise them. But that too will have to wait for another blogpost. All I can seem to do now is to scream my message from the mountaintop. According to a handful of you, I’ve struck a chord…and I might have actually helped a few. Seems to me I should get a megaphone. There's plenty of noise inside here to share.