Monday, September 17, 2018
Losing a Friend to Mental Health and Addiction
Years ago, I was away for a weekend at a volleyball tournament. I saw a young man on the beach court and he had some kind of writing on his ribs. Upon looking more closely, I ascertained that it was some sort of script written tattoo.
Later that night, I ended up talking to this young man. I asked him what the tattoo on his ribs was about. He went on to tell me that it was a letter his father had written to him. His father had suffered from addiction issues, and because of this, the young man rarely saw his father. So one Christmas, his father couldn't afford to give him anything, so he wrote his son this note. And this note was the tattoo the young man placed on his ribcage. I read the note, and it was enough to bring tears to your eyes. It was a heartfelt plea of understanding from a tormented father to his son, telling his son how much he Loved him, while being incapable of a logical explanation of why he can't be a better father. Truly heartbreaking. I asked the young man if his father was still alive, and sadly his father succumbed to his demons and passed away.
Mental health and addiction are probably the least understood issues human beings deal with in this day and age. We seem to want to use logic to understand the patterns of trauma and abuse, which are contributors to addiction and mental health. Instead of dealing with the root cause of the issues of trauma and lack of connection, we seem to want to blame, or demonize the tormented people for the drama and impact they bring into any situation with their behaviour. I mean, it's easy to dislike the person for their behaviour and the impact it has. But too many of us dislike the person, instead of disliking the disease which controls the person. That's the big difference.
Today, I found out that a friend of mine hung himself. This is the third person I've known that has hung themselves this year, unable to cope with the addiction or mental health issue they faced. Each person, I incorrectly assumed had the coping skills to be "better" than I thought they were being. I looked at how intelligent they were, and this told me that their logic would win over their trauma.
How wrong I was...
A person's trauma isn't logical. In fact, it almost always defies or overpowers logic, making it a moot point. We seem to judge their trauma with our own ability to problem solve or cope and minimize their situation, rather than accepting that their inability to deal with the root cause of their trauma is taking every single piece of clarity they have. This then creates the repetitious hell they live and deal with on a minute by minute basis.
Mental health is exhausting. It is often too much for us to deal with, even with people we Love. We resent the energy they take from us, and blame them as if they do it intentionally. They don't. I can't choose to believe that addicts or mentally ill people choose to want to be this way, given the choice. It's the hardest way to live life. In fact, 3 people I've known this year proved it by taking their own life, rather than dealing with the trauma in their life. When these people can't deal with the trauma, and their coping mechanisms are depleted from the years of abuse they've endured, death is more preferable than living.
This is simply heart breaking.
I can't help but wonder how alone they must've felt in the final moments of their life knowing that they were going to end it all. I can't imagine what that must feel like, but I know that it's probably more common than we want to admit. That's why we need to be putting more resources into mental health and addiction. This is an epidemic that just isn't going to go away because we don't want to address it. In fact, it's only going to continue to get worse.
I think mental health and addiction affects us all. As human beings, we should want to understand this disease, its algorithm and its preventable impact. To allow any human being go through this, is cruel and unacceptable.
So to you, my tormented friend, I say goodbye in this form. I know you are now free, but I can't help but refrain from missing our chats and walks. I'm sorry for your pain and suffering and that it couldn't seemingly be helped. I will miss you and I will think of you.
To where you are...