Friday, September 11, 2015

Behind Enemy Lines

** I wrote this in honor of Suicide Prevention Week. Suicide and Mental Health Illnesses are real. They have probably affected every single one of us on some level. I wrote this for those who fight to win, and those who have lost the fight. You can’t tell another human being how strong or weak they are, until you know the battles they endure behind closed doors.

I never set out to be a writer, but when I write, I set a goal to connect with the reader.

And so it begins…

A dim lit light, problems on my mind, and a cell phone that's tucked away for the night.  I’m old school, in that I still put words to the page with pen and a pad, and a light mixed whiskey in my hand.

I’m a fighter. Discouraged by no trial. My mind was once my enemy, but we’ve been friends for a while. There is no such thing as security, until you can face the mirror and smile.

Memories swirling, of people I haven’t seen in a while. Taken from us without our consent.

I am strong. I am a fighter. A lover. And a supporter with a smile.

But sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel doesn't feel so bright. So we fight, and we fear, and we smile, and we hide, and we lay awake at night wishing it would all go away, but it stays, and it stings, and it rings in our mind, and our hands shake, and our hearts hurt, and it burns, and our mask wears thin, and we wonder if it's our turn, to close our eyes, and get away, and stop the pain, from lasting another day. And sometimes the best medicine is a hug, or a smile, or a talk that last for a while, a text or a call, and a voice that cares.

And we lay awake at night, and we beg, for an infinity of simplicity, a mulligan from this complacency, but we're stuck in a bubble, of rubble, that wraps around us like wire, and chains that choke and restrict us, in cages like cattle, and packed into trucks, and driven crazy, while the wrath of our mind gets even for a while.

Can you see the intricacy and the intimacy of the problem that lives in me, if I didn't tell you I was broken, would you have known it if you didn't hear the words that I've spoken, and this is why the problem is invisible to the naked eye. The problem is invisible. To the naked eye.

I sit without complaining. Smiling at all those around me. The park is my friend. Peaceful, when I ride my bike to this bench, and sit with the wind to my face, hoping it will blow this problem from me, seeking the sun to shine in me. Children with kites, parents with pride, but when I can’t find myself, I ride and I hide.  

And I ride, and I ride, and I ask why I have to turn around and come back to this life.  Subtle are these moments to the witness, but they burn like a chemical fire inside.  These park benches never hurt me, and they offer the cover of solitude, while I catch a glimpse of the real world, as the normal people pass by me, I smile back, to impersonate normalcy in me.

But sometimes my heart feels like stripped corn on the cob, stacked out of line, my mind, rushing like a river, into a canyon where the sun can’t shine. I don’t write to feel high, or low, I write to release the pressure in my brain, cuz we aren’t all wired the same. Smiles are often lies, but the outside world, has no idea what’s going on inside. It should be simple, but we don’t all comprehend the same, genetics that twist and turn some of us into the enemies or our own state of mind.

Some problems in this country haven’t been addressed, and its left part of our population in a mess. Some problems are disguised and aren’t always in plain sight. Friends and family that can’t see what feels so obvious to me. Days that have no sunrise or sunset to me, they are plain, and the people in them are incompatible to me.

Have you ever seen a smile that was a lie, have you ever wondered, about the war behind the eyes. Have you ever looked past the happy actor in your peers, have you ever wondered, about the battle and the tears, and the scars, compiled through the years. How easy has it been for you, because not all of us are wired the right way, the same way, the defects look like all the others products, on the product line, but inside, they break and cry. I don’t write for reaction, I don’t write for help. I write because sometimes the spillway on the dam breaks, and all the fish come out.

Picture frames, that return blank stares in me, memories so elite, I can’t access the guarded gate. The security of life, attacking the insecurities in me. This isn’t ramble, this is raw, and its time our world turns an eye, to the people broken inside. I didn’t ask to be different, but I don’t want normal, the rollercoaster leaves me breathless at times. My mind washes in, washes out, heavy moments, dull at times, but the elevation of this tide is half the ride.

We pass by people every single day that smile, but are at war inside. They don’t wear signs on their back, they wear masks on their face that cover their hearts and eyes. Guards on their heart, and when you reach, they rarely take a hand, because defeating what holds me back is everything to me. Where are the people like me, why can’t they be next to me, why can’t I hold hands with the people that understand what it’s like to feel like me, why are they leaving me one at a time, why are they not getting the help they need, why are they in chains, why do they bleed, and why do they have to take their lives, just to be freed.

If it’s not your problem, it’s not on your mind. If your tree drops leaves in the neighbor’s backyard, it’s out of sight, out of mind, but these slivers and splinters crack our hearts and minds, and they grow inside. Turbulence that shakes me at night, when all I want is to sleep. The biggest epidemic of our time is understanding the difference in your mind and mine. I reach for someone that isn’t there, and I scream with a voice that is mute to everyone around me. And so I breathe, and I breathe, and I know I am the strongest person I know, and I’m tired now, but I can’t close my eyes.

Everyone that lives like me, is the strongest person I know, but some of them… Just. Don’t. Know.  They are the silent warriors that just need a break. Tornadoes that touch down daily, when they lay down at night and pray for sleep.  My kind, my warriors, we live in a theme park, with rollercoasters and rapid heartbeats, it’s just that we never get out. I don’t want attention to me. But if I don’t scream these words to the world, the people I love, that live like me, won’t get the help they need. I don’t write for help, I write to bring attention to issues that are important to me.

Beautiful voices, that get pushed away, hearts that would give forever, if someone real could help, in a real way. Beautiful flowers, that deserve better, than to wither away, someone, somewhere, reading this has tears and pain that won’t go away, they understand every word, I’ve put on this page. I love you, and so do the people around you. They just DON’T understand, that the machine you operate, just isn’t the same.

But I see your beauty, I know your truth, I admire your strength, everyday... you wake up, and start all over again, climbing up the hill, that’s in your way, and you know that hill, will never go away, yet you fight, and you climb, but some of my people are giving up. These are not cowards. These are warriors that I admire, not for the action they're taking, but for the pain they've been enduring,  and they’re choosing to close the last page of the book to get away. Most people cannot even begin to understand the strength they have, to endure the pain, that has followed them this far.

You see the sun, and the blue skies, I see dragons with fire balls swooping down on me. An obstacle course just to get through the day, comprehension of a full day is just a little harder for me. It’s not that I don’t try, it just feels like an immense amount of pressure weighing down on me. Each year that passes, my own mind becomes a little more clouded to me. I knew a long time ago my brain was wired a little differently. It was my senior year in high school, when I started to notice it wasn’t working the right way for me.

Simple things started to get harder for me. With each day getting tougher, it took so much more out of me to get through each one okay. Coordinating simple things became like a maize to me. I was having trouble remembering things that should be common sense to me. Names, birthdays, and memories I made with people close to me. My friends would tell a story and ask me how could you not remember that, and it embarrassed me. I would watch a movie with my friends, and two days later, the plot and events were unclear to me. I had post-it notes around my house with my address and phone number because I could not remember them on command. When I had company over, I had to tear them all down, and when they left, start over again.

Reinforcing simple concepts made anxiety grow in me, I didn’t know why this was happening to me. I didn’t want a pill from a doctor handed to me, so I tried my best to adjust to living with me. Blank stares, from a mind that wanders, as concentration escapes me. I used to think a smile was a sign of trust, but now a smile is a sign of question for me. We program our face to smile for the masses, while our insides attack us. Routine becomes everything to us, and when we break that routine, we feel pockets of panic creeping up to see, if we can make it through without exposing our handicap for others to see. I try to do the same thing every day, because that makes my life easier to manage for me.

Sometimes it feels like there is years on these days. I feel fortunate to read this letter to you, because all too often these letters are read by loved ones after it’s too late. This isn’t roulette, this is real. This isn’t me being dramatic, it’s me screaming out on behalf of people not as strong as me. This is an epidemic, and it will grow. We need doctors and scientist to commit to this in a way we haven’t yet seen.

You can ask anyone that knows me, everywhere I go, I make everyone hug me. I have a heart that’s bigger than the hunger in me. Emotions that hold me hostage when I desire to have people close to me. I run, so that no one has to deal with me. I’ve had the most amazing girlfriends any man could ever ask for, yet here I am alone, and somehow, I knew it would be that way, because it had to be.

Sometimes I close my eyes, and I dream of the life my parents prepared me for. Hunger for success, love for all, are just a couple of the seeds that were planted in me. I see feathers falling from the sky, as a rate so slow, the power of eternity is on my side. I wonder where the years went, and why my mind won’t work in unison with me. The slightest mist of rain in the sky, with rainbows that promise a new start on every single day, green grass fields, and cherry orchards where I hold hands with the woman that finally understands me. Our minds are powerful, we are smart, we just can’t coordinate everything the same. We are not weak, we are strong, our minds run at the speed of processors so fast, that the technology has not even come along yet.

This is not me complaining, every breath I take on every day is so precious to me. This is simply me trying to draw a line of understanding from the regular population to the people that have difficulties like me. We come in peace, open hands, open minds, closed hearts to protect the problems in me. We are a generation of silence, because we spend so much time coping with our minds, fighting our fears, and trying to overcome this pain. If you know someone that struggles mentally, open your heart, open your hands, open your mind, and open your eyes.  

Mental health is real. It’s a problem, and an issue that hasn’t been addressed. We aren’t less than you, we aren’t defective, and we aren’t dangerous. If you knew how many people around you dealt with this, it would shock you. We live with the courage of a thousand soldiers, and the gentleness of a thousand lovers. There are many misconceptions about mental illness, and the population needs to be educated. There are far more dangerous normal people, than people with mental ailments. Don’t be ignorant to the 99% of amazing people with mental health issues, because of the 1% of dangerous mental health citizens.

So where do we start? Where do we go from here? What can I do to help? What can you do to help?

Reach out to the people around you. Whether you know them or not. Be kind. Talk, not just with your mouth, but with your heart. Listen, not just with your ears, but with your mind. Engage the people around you. Say hi to a stranger, look them in the eyes. Trust the people around you, but more importantly, be someone the people around you can trust.

At least once, every day, I think about where we are, as a race. A human race. No distinction between color or creed. I wonder why the animal in us judges the strength in those among us. Kindness, is infectious, and it needs to spread. Designer purses, shoes, pants, and popularity make me sick to my stomach. Fast cars, planes, and houses that we want to define who we are. If everything was taken from us, our homes, our money, our clothes, and our cars, if we were put together on an island as humans, what would connect us…

If we were stripped of our societal rank, and we suddenly all looked the same, would we remember we were cut from the same cloth, or would we still find a way, to judge based on appearance and scars. We get so caught up on who we want to be, that we forget who we are. One smile on one day, one hello on a rainy day, could change a mind and save a life, but we’re so busy chasing a road map to selfish happiness, that we truly forget who we are. There are wars fought in minds every single day from people that you would never suspect, whom are trying to figure out who they are.

If you want to live a wealthy and rich life, be kind. Kindness and love are the most valuable currency on this planet. Man came from nothing. A heart, a mind, and a body. No cars, no planes, no currency. No jeans, no purses, and more courtesy. You can’t advance the human race, unless you advance the human mind. I speak not of technology, but of love and being kind. I speak of desire, to turn my head to the left, and to the right, and ask questions to the people next to me. I ask that we stop looking straight ahead, and start looking around, for the people holding hands out.

Stop loving things, and start loving people. Don’t bully, belittle, or attack others. Support people for their strengths, and love them for their flaws. Guide those who seek light, and comfort those who feel darkness. Smile, at everyone you meet and everyone you pass. Be both a teacher, and a student, every day of life. Pass knowledge, kindness, and love, to all that surrounds you. Give abundantly of your heart, your mind, and your time.  Lift people up, don’t break them. Love them, don’t hate them. Don’t always take things for face value, dig a little deeper. Ask questions, offer solutions. Give hugs, and support. Speak often, listen more. Touch hands, hold hands, touch lives. Breathe with clarity, speak with conviction.

Get a pet, give a pet, learn unconditional love, through an animal. If you can’t donate money. Donate time. Even if it’s to one person. Laugh, and never lose your humor. Respect time spent, for it will never be given back, Watch the sun rise, then take someone to watch the sun set. Hold doors open for everyone, even if it puts you two spots back in line. Drink water, respect water, and at least once, stand in the rain. Never forget someone who helped you, and always make time to help others. Build goals, build character, break barriers, not hearts. Slow down, look around, and take a road trip by yourself. Meditate often, mediate problems, and never turn your back on someone who needs to talk.

And above all… love. Love out loud. Every chance you get.


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