Helping Yourself To Help Others; Being Strong While Dealing With Mental Illness.

I just woke-up to read that a long-time friend whom I have known since my reckless and carefree youthful days in high school committed suicide by hanging himself. Two weeks prior to reading this heartache-inducing news, another suicide on a mainstream world-wide news level hit me hard- Soundgarden lead singer Chris Cornell. Just fifteen minutes prior to reading the news about my friend, I almost posted a usual jamz status on my Facebook profile announcing that later on tonight I was going to see this band live at Will’s Pub in Orlando. The song was titled, ironically and in the cruelest of fashion, “Suicide Brigade” by Wolvhammer.  After reading the news I decided to delete that status update in progress and not post it simply because it was too much of an eerie coincidence and out of respect for the gentleman who had contributed the humor to my life that I was too cynical, unoriginal, and lazy to find at times.

For the last fifteen years I’ve had to come to terms with hearing about the topic of mental illness and dealing with it has been constant and very personal. If any of you have actually read my blog , I am no stranger to it. I personally deal with Major Depressive Disorder. I’m a prime candidate for never being fully capable of finding the light at the end of the tunnel. It also means I’m not the most hopeful or cheerful sonofabitch at times. I can be downright grumpy. I also have a penchant for self-medication, gallows humor, impulsive and risky behavior. I listen to music that seems to thrive and make bank on exploiting mental illness in the most cringe-inducing of ways. It doesn’t help when you come from an environment that treated mental illness and depression as the norm. I grew up experiencing and seeing the damaging effects it can have on not just you but everyone around you. Experiencing it yourself, it makes known that it is a chemical imbalance brought on by different factors and YES it is hereditary. It’s a constant raging war that at times never seems to be able to come to an end even though you might win a battle here and there.

As if you didn’t know how it feels to lose
As if you didn’t know how it feels to lose at dice with fate
At least have some dignity
As if it wasn’t a lifetime spent on connecting the dots
There was no pattern
As if the irony was more than a defense mechanism
And we could actually laugh for a change
As if steel hooks in our backs were more than a nuisance
And we could actually feel something

I have been approached more times in my life by people who to this day can’t understand why I continue to be the same person I always have been, especially musically. For a guy who has been on a cornucopia of heavy-end psychiatric medications that have included Seroquel, Depakote, and Cymbalta, you would think I wouldn’t want to listen to anything BUT music that promises good times and ‘good vibes’- music with the message of ‘Live, Laugh, Love” or whatever the fuck it’s called. One particular comment I received made me laugh out loud from someone whom I am not on good terms with. This clueless person said “all this black metal shit is going to fucking take you to a place that you don’t want to go.” My reply wasn’t a defensive response of any sort. Me having to explain myself to him would be completely futile. All I knew was that he was the type of person that would try to start caring after 15 + years of damage. Completely late to the party. As far as going to a place I don’t want to go? I didn’t exactly want to go there as a child. But it happened. It happened for a specific reason. That reason was to make me a survivor and a stronger, more well-educated person- more educated about how it affects myself, how to prevent it, and to help others around me. That’s helping others while not being a condescending cocksucker. I could be the stronger one. I could be their rock and help them. I could be there for someone when nobody was there for me.

I have always been open about my issues with mental health. I have always been brutally honest to as why I’m the kind of dude that goes around with sp00ky tattoos -with words inked on my own skin that say “a light that never warms,” and “no hope in sight.”  You can say that I do wear my heart on my sleeve. A lot of people would view that as a possible negative seeing how individuals like me can be the ones that are walking open targets for negativity, and it’s true. I’m not going to turn this into a phallic-measuring contest. I’ve had a nice big heaping pile of shit thrown over into my hole. If someone feels that I have an image, it’s anything but. It’s me being an overgrown 16 year old in a 34 year old body. Only difference now is that I’m currently medicated and able to keep depression, anger, frustration, anxiety, and panic attacks at bay.  The sp00ky ‘image” that someone may feel I have is more or less an outward expression of the music that I feel most connected to in terms of emotional cathartic release(s). As much as why I created this blog. As much as why I write and touch base upon this topic quite often. It’s a release. Complete and total catharsis. And for the people that can’t or won’t understand this; I don’t expect you to help me fight my battles. I don’t expect you to hold my hand. I don’t ask anything other than having an open-mind and open ears. Actually listen to what I am fucking talking about. If one would like to understand these notions a bit better then go over to Decibel magazine and read a beautifully written article by Krieg‘s Neill Jameson about the topic of mental illness and this culture and just about everything that correlates with it, both positively and negatively.

Both my friend and Chris Cornell meeting the same depressing fate- it’s a smack in my face by reality. It’s a pimp slap to the left cheek that reminds even though I may have some stuff going for me and I’m currently experiencing wonderful and overwhelming new things in my life, I have to keep myself strong. I have to stay strong, not just for me- for the ones around me. It reminded me that I have to call the V.A. Outpatient center and re-schedule an appointment with my psychiatrist. I reminds me to keep tabs on myself so that I can be there for others who possibly need the same help even if they don’t have the same access to professional mental health doctors and resources. It reminds me to provide them with the strength to continue going on and soldiering through the muck and swamps of sadness just a little bit longer. Even if that only means one day at a time, as cliche as that may sound.