When Mental Health Issues Hit Home, It’s Almost Always Too Late

Mental illness is very serious. Unlike most health issues, where you can provide treatment and see immediate results, most mental health issues exist without many people knowing their friend, family member or loved one is dealing with more than they could ever possibly imagine.

Four days. Four days before Chester succumbed to the overwhelming feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, anxiety and not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel, I I would bet my life savings that no one in this car had any idea the tragic event that would unfold four days later was even a remote possibility.

Stigma keeps so many people from seeking help. Stigma exists because, for decades, men like Chester have been told to “suck it up” or “be a man”. Excuse my language, but that is complete bullshit. Depression can be crippling. It also can be treated, but it can’t be treated until people feel safe seeking the help they need.

Last thing. While Chester was smiling, laughing and singing his heart away, he also said some pretty amazing things.

“This is the best day of my life.”
“I just want my children to find something that they love and are passionate about.”

Not my words: “Often, the people who appear to be the happiest are dealing with things other people cannot fathom.”

Four days before the world lost Chester Bennington, no one would have ever expected that what he was carrying around was so heavy that he would take his own life. Rather, mental illness would cause him to take his own life.

Something needs to change. I am blessed that my family understood how serious mental health is and helped me get the treatment I needed and still need to manage my depression and anxiety, but not everyone is so fortunate. If you know anyone who is struggling, please let them know you care and you are available to listen. It could be the difference between waking up and connecting with a loved one or waking up and the world losing another amazing person.

Without wax,

Bryce

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Heroes and Humans

I’m guilty. I put famous people up on a pedestal. I think we probably all do more than we should. The world is a gigantic business and most of what we see and hear is very well rehearsed. Most of it is scripted.  Every once in a while we see who these “heroes” of ours are. It’s the times when you see or hear or read something that resonates deep within you. It’s a moment that you realize that the people you have put up on a pedestal are human just like you.

Nowadays, many of us are divided. It is my hope that we can return to a civil society focused on liberty and the best interest of all someday soon.

About this video… For me, this was one of those moments that I realized an artist I admired was human. He has the same emotions as me. He has the same tipping points as me and he is comfortable with being vulnerable.
This song, Why Not Me, pretty much sums it up. Our world lost a lot of innocent people this week. People who were out to have a good time and enjoy the music that gave them the special moments we all seek.
This video moved me and I hope it moves you to see how much more we all are alike than we are different. If you are a man and reading this, I hope you know that it is okay to be vulnerable. It is okay to feel and it is okay to share your feelings.
I’m thankful for moments like these that I will never forget, but I wish this moment would never have had to happen. My thoughts and prayers are with all of the people we lost, all of the people who were wounded and every single individual affected by this horrific tragedy. All of my respect goes to the brave men and women of the LVPD who risked their lives to limit this unimaginable event.

Conversations with a Mirror

man-in-mirrorPM1

It has been said, “We are all a work in progress.”  While I believe that we all are a work in progress, sometimes we can find ourselves “stuck”. Maybe we’re a work in progress, but if we think about it and are honest with ourselves, sometimes we find that we haven’t been doing much work at all. Maybe we’ve been too busy with our careers, family or something else. Sure, we’re working, but we’re not working on ourselves.  I recently came to the realization that I hadn’t been working on myself.  Actually, it took a couple of really good friends to tell me that I need to wake up.  I needed to make some serious changes because I was totally unaware that my behaviors were not matching my intentions. It didn’t take me long to realize that no one was going to do the work for me, so I decided it was time to take a long hard look at myself in the mirror.

We all look in the mirror. Most of us do it daily to make sure we don’t look like a hot mess when we get to work.  What most of us don’t do is take the time to look into the mirror and really see ourselves. Reflect. Dream. Plan. Think. Get comfortable in our own skin.

I didn’t do this for a number of reasons:

  1. It doesn’t feel natural
  2. It’s not comfortable (It was actually really uncomfortable.)
  3. We might not even have the slightest idea that something is “off”
  4. We might not want to know who we really are because we’re satisfied with the persona we project as a natural defense mechanism

There are many other reasons but these are mine and I am owning them. I am sure you have your own reasons, too. I did it, though. It wasn’t fun, but it made me realize how much work I have to do.

So, now I’m in the process of trying my best to mend the relationships I have neglected. Show people who I really am. I’m not telling them who I am, I am showing them. Life is hectic. As we get older life finds a way of getting more and more complicated and slowly, but surely we lose little bits of ourselves. This becomes a problem when you lose the aspects of yourself that other people like. I don’t consider myself a workaholic, but I do have an unhealthy “obsession” (I can’t think of a better word and I don’t want to use a thesaurus) with working until I find myself drained. Drained of the excitement I once had. Drained of the energy to do anything else that once was fun. Drained of the energy to put forth my best self. Luckily for me, I have some really good friends who aren’t afraid to call me out on my bullshit.

So what am I driving at here? Put simply; you have to work on yourself first if you eventually want to put others first and create authentic human relationships. I’m talking work relationships, friendships, and romantic relationships. If you aren’t comfortable with yourself and you’re unaware of the areas you need to work on, chances are you will never be able to be present for the people who need you. And if you take nothing else from this blog, there are a lot of people who need you. If you’re reading this, there’s a really good chance that I need you, your talents and everything else you bring to the table.  And if I need you, I can guarantee that a lot of others need you, too.

Putting yourself first can sound selfish and it certainly can be when we’re not careful about what “putting ourselves first” really means. Life isn’t all about me, but I know that if I am not working on my emotional intelligence, reflecting on my words and being aware of how I interact with others, I am probably of little value to anyone.

So, take the time to look in the mirror. You might not like what you see at first or you might love what you see. Either way, it’s completely okay. If you like what you see, keep being you. The world needs what you have to offer. If you don’t like what you see, start working on yourself, the world needs what you are keeping hidden and have to offer.

We’re all a work in progress. Some of us just need to end our lunch break and get back to doing the work that will change our lives and the lives of others.

Without wax,

Bryce

When Memes Go Wrong

dear asshole

Hey there.  I know you’re not a frequent reader because I haven’t updated my blog in 2+ years, but guess what, today something hit me so hard that I thought I should share my thoughts.  You may disagree.  You might even agree.  It doesn’t matter.  I’m right about this.  If you disagree, please take a bit longer to examine your thought process.

I’ve selected an image to be attached to this post.  Honestly, I am disturbed that it exists and I had a hard time taking a screenshot of it because all I could think of was that I may also be contributing to the problem I am about to dive further into.

The title of this blog is misleading.  It’s not when memes go wrong, it’s when people go wrong.  I go wrong a lot.  I know it.  Most people know it and I’m not denying it.  So please, don’t take me for a hypocrite.  One thing I do know is that I NEVER joke about mental health.

Chris Cornell.  Chris Cornell died this week.  He left this earth and he left behind groundbreaking music, but he also left behind three children and a wife that he adored.  By all accounts, Chris had everything you and I have probably ever wanted, but he had something else that some of us might deal with day to day, some others might have a family member who fights their illness day-to-day and others may have never experienced depression, a mood disorder or any other type of “mental illness”.

By now, you’ve read a lot.  Here is my point.  If you walk by three people a day, statistically one of those people has had or will have a depressive “episode” in their life.  As a side note, I am using quotation marks when I must use terms that I do not agree with.

Chris Cornell did end his own life.  This is a fact.  Aaron Hernandez (the football player convicted of 1st-degree murder) also killed himself inside his prison cell.  Both of these HUMAN BEINGS had nothing in common with the exception on the Hollywood limelight.

To compare these tragic events in the hopes of a few Facebook Reactions, Twitter RT’s or whatever is completely insensitive and one of the key indicators of why our (the American) society continues to trot along with blinders on our eyes to the real issues we must first address.

In summation:

  1. Please stop using other people’s misfortune to gain a laugh, promote your product or further your own selfish initiatives.
  2. Suicide is NOT an issue of someone taking their own life.  Suicide is the sometimes sudden, but other times prolonged process of brain chemicals causing a person to experience various levels of suicidal thoughts and/or depressive/manic episodes.
  3. People who struggle with a mental health diagnosis are ill.  Some may be ill for a short time, others may battle their illness their entire life.  NO ONE ever makes fun of someone battling cancer, but in less than 48 hours people have created memes about a HUMAN BEING ending their life.  Correction, what I should have said is that a HUMAN BEING’s illness finally became insurmountable and they succumbed to it.

If you’re reading this and you feel like it is an attack on you, it isn’t.  This image and cultural appropriation runs rampant in our society.  It must be stopped.  I am just sharing my thoughts because I fight a struggle myself.  I don’t know what struggle Chris Cornell fought.  For that matter, I don’t know what battle(s) Kurt Cobian, Layne Staley, Bradley Nowell and so many others have fought.  You can read the articles and call it drug addiction, but please know that addiction is a mental health diagnosis and often the after effect of a pre-existing mental health diagnosis and they call is co-morbidity.  Look it up.

Anyhow, please just stop it.  There are a lot of funny and often hilarious things that take place in life.  Unfortunately, there are also very sad and tragic things that take place every day, too.  We know about the more tragic events because of a thing we call, “the news”.

With social media, we can be the NEW news.  We can share the positive.  We can discuss issues and we can also debate.  Unfortunately, we can also make light of serious situations.  We can jest at others misfortune knowing that they may never see it but we may forget that the loved ones left behind may see it.

I know I’ve done my fair share of making light of others misfortunes before and I am confident that if you go back in my FB history you will probably find more than one instance of this immature behavior and I will likely be a hypocrite in someone’s eyes in the future, but for some reason this issue just really hit me hard.

I could write nonsensically all day.  Trust me, I could.  At the end of the day, I am writing this because it’s cathartic and I hope that it will change my future behavior and maybe someone else’s.  For the last 72 hours or so I can’t tell you how many times I have listened and viewed some of Chris Cornell’s YouTube videos.  I am thankful that we all have those to remember him by.

Thanks for reading.

Bryce