This Loneliness IS Killing Me

So, we finished the two seasons of 13 Reasons Why(2017), and as we prepare to start our series on covering the subjects that are addressed in this show, I wanted to come out and say a few things before we get into the research of these issues. Going through some of the subject matter personally, I feel that this show took me to a place that reminded me of those difficult times.

If this is the first time you’ve ever read my blog, I’m about to get more real than I ever have before. My name is Chris Keeling and I’m a survivor. There are things that happen to us everyday that can cause us to choose very different paths then we are facing now, but we can also choose to make it through and get better, stronger then when those experience started.

In 13 Reasons Why(2017) Hannah Baker, a high school student is the subject of bullying, and as a compacted result of various types of bullying, decides to take her own life. Some of the situations that she experiences, I have myself gone through. Some of her experiences, I’ve witnessed with others. I’ve had conversations, and I’ve even seen my own children go through those experiences. I think watching my own children deal with these issues have been the hardest part of it all.

Now remember that I said, I am a survivor. I’ve survived several attempts of suicidal moments in my life. The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a bunch of bullshit. I remember being made fun of because I was fat, and being the son of an NCO(Non Commissioned Officer in the military) in a predominantly Officer area brought along other hardships.  I was looked down upon because of the status of parents careers in comparison.

So, let’s talk about where all this seemed to lean towards, isolation, a feeling of not having anywhere to turn. I remember a sense of loneliness at the age of seven, and that’s the first time I decided that I didn’t want to live anymore. I walked out into the boonies, and hoped that a snake would bite me so that I could die. I didn’t feel loved, I didn’t feel liked, I didn’t feel that I was good enough for anything.

Yes, I know my parent’s loved me. I mean shouldn’t all parents love their children? I know it doesn’t always happen, but I know my parents loved me. When you’re in that mindset, something like that doesn’t come across your mind, I know it didn’t come across mine.

In third grade, I saw some sort of phycologist, and my self worth seemed to become less then, and I wanted to die. I don’t remember much from that interaction however I think this was about the second time that I had the urge to want things to end. How crazy is it that I had those feelings twice before I was in double digits?

Maybe I should have been put on some sort of medication by this time. Mental health has always been kind of taboo, and wasn’t always addressed. I really can’t explain why this was something that didn’t get really addressed in my house. I do know that I kept that kind of pain away from my parents. Which isn’t uncommon, my own children haven’t always been open to talking with me about their issues either.

Being excepted, being loved; it’s within these connections that I strived to feel. Being an outsider I always tried “too hard” to fit in with other people’s expectations of what was considered popular, or cool. I wanted to have the “glorious life” of the in crowd, and would often get verbally beaten down for it. The girls that I liked weren’t always the nicest to me, and I would often get rejected and have my heart broken with a cruel word.

Now, if you have been following along for sometime, then you’ve heard about my bicycle accident that I had when I was thirteen. I was reckless, and I don’t think that I ever really paid attention that day. I don’t think I ever paid attention ever, but that day I do know was hard. Again, I think I got a rejection that I took perhaps a bit too hard that day, and was even less in a mindset to care of anything when I got hit by that truck. Head trauma, broken bones, and a coma is what that got me, and I almost died.

Like Hannah Baker, who had her heart broken, and trust betrayed, I know those emotions too well. I think people in general just want to be accepted. Sometimes we feel like we have to hide who we really are to fit in. I often times played down the things I had been into, just so I wouldn’t get made fun of.

When I was about seventeen, I was cruelly broken up with, and I had taken a knife with the intent to stab myself. This was an emotional turmoil that I had fought with for a few weeks. It took a friend who had the scares from actually going through the whole process to yell at me. She made me realize that I needed to get out of my head and actually think about who I was going to affect.

Now, comes the epic work melt down, this is the last time I actually had those thoughts. I was never good at finding a way to get through high pressure situations. I have my reasons for leaving most aspects of my profession out of everything. This is not only a personal choice, but do to the things I do, there’s a sensitivity of discretion that goes with it.

What I can say is that what I do, is an ungrateful job, much like the janitor, or the food server, people are often quick to point out when they feel that you’re too slow, or inconveniencing them. Often times, if the customer doesn’t get their way, they become verbally abusive. End of job description…

Take that, and combine it with a highly stressful home life. We at the time didn’t know how to deal with a high functioning autistic, or even that was what it was. I was feeling beat down. I felt that I was trapped in a situation all around that I couldn’t get out of. I wanted to run away, and soon after I wanted all the pain and suffering to stop. I thought my family would be better without me, because I felt like a failure.

I ended up trying to slowly kill myself with food, that ended up being the way I went. I would sit down and play video games all day because I didn’t want to deal with my mental anguish. Food became my drug, and the more weight I gained, the more I hated myself. The more I hated myself, the more I would take it out on the one’s I loved.

I didn’t know how to deal with these feelings for the longest time. I know that my maternal family has a serious history of mental illness. My mother is heavy set, I think that food has been her drug for dealing with life. My sister, has been put in a mental institution, and my brother suffers from having “dark” thoughts as well. While I’m not saying this to put them on “blast”, I wasn’t raised in this environment.

My father and mother divorced when I was a toddler, and I never got to know anything about that side of the family until the invention of social media. It was my sister who came to establish a relationship with me. I’ve gotten to know that side a little bit, yet I’m still a bit cautious because the way I’ve grown up. I’m here for them if they need me, and I’ve had talks with them at various points when they’ve been in a “bad spot”.

I’ve struggled my whole life to find my place, and while I went through these various spots in my life, and that this is just a little piece of who I am. I am a survivor. I made it this far and I’m not going back, hell I don’t need to anymore because I did go through that before. I know how to handle those thoughts now.

Semicolon: a punctuation mark indicating a pause, typically between to main ideas.

A semicolon is the symbol of suicide survivors, because it represents a continuation instead of stopping. I’m at some point going to get this tattoo as a reminder that I’m better than I was and I continued to strive for something better, even when I thought all hope was lost.

If you are lost and unsure where to go, 13 Reasons Why has provided a set of resources that could be useful https://13reasonswhy.info.

I’m not a professional, I’ve never claimed to be, but I have some experience, and I think that helps. I’ve been there for people who’ve wanted to end things too, and I’ve shown them that they weren’t along. I’m just another person who’s got a dog in this fight too. Everyday I worry that something like this could happen to someone I love, and it’s been a helpless feeling.

My parting words of advice are this: We don’t always know what everyone goes through. Some people go through some rough times in there personal lives, and don’t want to share, because it’s a survival thing, or at least that’s what I believe. If negativity is impacted, it will manifest somewhere else. Abuse at home, sometimes manifests into bullying at school, or work. Be mindful, be kind, because you never know if you’ll make that difference in some’s life where they decide to keep going.

 

 

Forward March

Wow! In seven months I get to call myself a graduate from Film School.  I will have my Bachelors of Science in Digital Filmmaking, and I’m about ready to have an office, since plans kind of fell through with the other place.  Life is good!  All I need now is a few more shots for my B-roll of my documentary, and it’s been suggested that I might consider applying for a Film Festival.  These are the moments that I love.  It seems like a validation of all my hard work, and I couldn’t be more excited on what the future has in store for me.

I have some friends, who are about to deal with the one year anniversary of their son’s tragic death… things have really changed in this past year.  I think I appreciate the people in my life more.  Even if we aren’t close, I seem to wish that they have safe travels and hope that they arrive back safely.  Life is too short to let negative things get in the way, and if there is anything I’ve learned, it’s too treat people better, because you never know how they may change your life.

We started this local Geek group called The Geeks of the IWV last August in response to the celebration of his life.  I thought it was a good way to help my friends mourn, and to help deal with their grief.  I never thought that this whole process would change me as well.  I feel that I’ve become a better person, a better friend, and more positive about life.  I love my kids so much more than I ever thought I did.  I love my wife more because she’s supported me.  My friends have also seen a difference in the way I handle things.  With this group, I’ve been able to network so much better than I ever thought possible.

I think tragedy can become triumph in the end.  The tragedy itself never goes away, and I in no means, say that to cheapen what’s happened, but I think it can lead to self discovery.  When I had my suicidal melt down and work, I needed help, and I was able to find that help through a professional.  The tragedy that hit me at the time was that friends, and family members had suffered suicide in their lives. Around that time, there were five people that I had heard committed the act.  I knew one of the people locally,  he was a hip=hop dance instructor  at the gym I was going too at the time.  When I found out what happened I became morose because I felt like if I had the chance to talk to him, he would have known that he wasn’t alone.  We connected over our fondness of hip-hop and talked about trying to choreograph some dance moves to a Michael Jackson song or two.  His death really impacted me.

Human connection is important.  I try to pay attention to what people wear when I see them at my job, and it often times leads to conversations, and friendships.  I’ve become acquainted with so many people by noticing the lanyard they wear around their necks.  If it’s a sports team, we’ll start talking about sports, and we talk about favorite players, and teams that we like.  The one that gets the most attention is when someone wears either comic book characters or video games.  Those usually spark the best conversations  and I’ve made a good set of friends because of it.  It’s funny what you can learn about someone if you pay attention to what they wear.

I had a conversation with my little brother today, and I think that I finally summed up my goals in life.  I told him that it’s hard work building an empire, and that’s what I feel like I’m doing.  I want to do movies, music, podcasting, and on top of all of that, I want to have the accessibility to show that I’m there to support those who can’t handle mental illness. Sometimes, there doesn’t seem to be any options than to end their lives.  All I can say to that is- I’m here, you’re not alone, I love you.  Don’t let the darkness be the answer, because there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.  I know that it doesn’t seem like it, or that the light is too far to see, but endure, fight through it…you’ll come out stronger in the end.

These are things that I’m more passionate about now.  I’m getting the tools to help lend a voice to the unanswered, and I plan on using it to help.  My creativity is there to help entertain and maybe even be thought provoking at times.  Life’s hard, and I’m the first to admit that I’ve wanted to quit.  I almost have, more times than I would care to admit.  My depression hit me hard because I felt like I was stuck in a spot that I wasn’t happy in.  I had set plans to leave everything behind because I couldn’t deal with being stuck.  Life was closing in around me.  Now I’m moving forward to a bright future.  I’m not stuck anymore, and the momentum is carrying me along a new path.  Somedays it moves very quickly, than other days, I wonder if I’m still moving, but forward is always ahead of me.

While I’m not going to mention names of my friends who lost their son,  I do want to leave a thought on the eve of the anniversary: I love you and your family.  My heart goes out to you in your time of suffering.  I’ve seen growth from both of you in this past year, and I think you’ll learn to manage with your loss better as time goes.  Your eldest left a giant hole in the lives of everyone who had the fortune of knowing him.  I wish that I could have known him better than the chance that I had.  By the time my family and I had entered into your lives the way we did, he had already became a working man who was busy with school and work.  The time I did share with him was great because we geeked out about the same things.  Just know that there isn’t a day that you two don’t cross my mind, and I’m always going to be here for you.