Interrupting Regular Program: Las Vegas Shooting: HATE IS NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS

Good evening, or morning,… afternoon…

First, let’s observe a moment of silence for the lives lost in the Las Vegas shooting.

 

 

 

 

Okay, so just to recap what happen, because I know some of you dear readers are not from America, here is a quick summary:

A lone gunman unleashed a rapid-fire barrage of bullets from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel late Sunday, killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 500 others attending a country music festival below.

It was the worst mass shooting in modern American history, and it was done by a man whose name was Stephen Craig Paddock.

Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, fired shot after shot from his room at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino down on the crowd of about 22,000, sending terrified concertgoers running for their lives.

Police responded to reports of the shooting just after 10 p.m. (1 a.m. my time, I live on the east coast). Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters Monday that authorities believe Paddock killed himself before police entered his room. Officials had said earlier that police fatally shot Paddock, but no, Paddock killed himself.

Authorities were digging into Paddock’s history. Other than a citation he received several years ago that was “handled as a normal practice” by the courts, he had no criminal background, Lombardo said.

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Paddock is believed to have checked into the hotel on Thursday. He had 23 firearms in his room and that investigators found 19 more at his home.

So, Lombardo called him a psychopath.

BUT WAIT!!!!!

Well from what I know, he fits some of the characters of personality disorder, so does a lot of people. Calling him a psychopath without having the evidence to back it up is what is leading people to assume that this man “suffered from a mental disorder.” Just like Dylann Roof, by the way. He claimed that he was a sociopath.

First! You cannot self-diagnosis!

Second, of course everyone is going to “have a mental disorder” if it is a way to stop capital punishment (by the way, I do not personally approve of capital punishment, but I am just saying that claiming insanity is a “get out of jail/death” card). Roof, is on the death roll, which I think is dumb cause killing him won’t bring back the lost people, and having suffer would be better. (I am so cruel sometimes, but I also believe we are no one special and should not take lives (again expectations are there)).

Now, he might have made a mental illness, sure. I, personally, don’t think he did.

I had a conversation with a lady on Monday and she stated, “You have to have to have a mental illness to shoot people.”

My answer: “NO!!!!!!” All you have to have to shoot people, is hate.

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Hate, my dear readers, IS NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS.

Dylan Roof, is hateful and he is racist. He planned the shooting. Someone who is truly mentally ill will not plan anything. It will be on impulse.

The Las Vegas shooter, might or might not have had a mental illness. However, it looks like he might have planned this out, too. He checked into his hotel room Thursday night, with a clear view of the concert. This is a Las Vegas hotel, IT IS NOT CHEAP!!!! It is the exact opposite of cheap!

Now, did some of the past shooters have a mental illness? Yes! A classic example is Charles Whitman, known as the Texas Tower Shooter.

On July 31, 1966, Whitman wrote a note about his violent impulses, saying, “After my death, I wish an autopsy on me be performed to see if there’s any mental disorders.” The note then described his hatred for his family and his intent to kill them. That night, Whitman went to his mother’s home, where he stabbed and shot her. Upon returning to his own home, he then stabbed his wife to death.

The following morning, Whitman headed for the tower with several pistols and a rifle after stopping off at a gun store to buy boxes of ammunition and a carbine. Packing food and other supplies, he proceeded to the observation platform, killing the receptionist and two tourists before unpacking his rifle and telescope and hunting the people below.

An expert marksman (he had been a Marine), Whitman was able to hit people as far away as 500 yards. For 90 minutes, he continued firing while officers searched for a chance to get a shot at him. By the end of his rampage, 16 people were dead and another 30 were injured.

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WAIT…WHAT???? HOW IS THIS ANY DIFFERENT?

Well first, he left a suicide note, because he wanted to die. In his not, he wrote: “I don’t really understand myself these days. I am supposed to be an average reasonable and intelligent young man. However, lately (I can’t recall when it started) I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts.”

Well, they did perform an autopsy and guess what they found? They found a brain tumor pressing on his amygdala.

Also, this guy is in like EVERY psychology book that I have read.

What does that mean?

The amygdala takes information from the thalamus and interprets it as a threat or not; it produces fear or aggression, the famous “fight or flight” response. Of course, if the amygdala malfunctions, then things which are threatening will not produce a fear response, or harmless events will be interpreted as a threat, producing aggression. Having a tumor pressing on your amygdala can cause it to malfunction.

I’ll do a blog post or blog series explaining each part or… most parts of the brain, eventually.

Does the Las Vegas shooter have a brain tumor? Does Dylan?

Okay, so here is where things get… well… confusing… I don’t know.

Now, before I say anything else, I support the 2nd amendment. It’s like the right to bear arms. It’s in our US Bill Rights which is like the holy text of the United States unless people don’t agree with because of race, gender, etc. etc…

Anyway, so I do support and want my 2nd amendment, like people have died in order for me to have this right, however, I do believe that there should be more screening and  people can’t walk into a gun shop or order online or go to a gun show and buy a gun. I also think that people should have the guns required to protect their families. However, not a massive automatic gun.

What about hunting?

Bow and arrows…maybe?

Hunting rifles.

Anything else, it isn’t hunting, it’s murder.

The BIG thing I want to stress. HATE IS NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS. TRYING TO MAKE A NAME OF YOURSELF BY KILLING PEOPLE IS NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS.

A mental illness is:

  • staying in bed all day because you don’t see a point in getting up
  • not being able to sleep because your mind keeps racing back and forth not giving you a moment of peace
  • putting food in your mouth and it not tasting like anything
  • sleeping all day and night because you can’t handle life
  • seeing things that aren’t there
  • hearing things that aren’t there

You get the point.

Mental Illness is NOT:

  • shooting people because you are:
    • racist
    • angry
    • want to be acknowledged by the world
    • paid by the some unnamed organization.
    • A terrorist attack
    • A domestic terrorist attack

Also, I am angry. As you can tell. Why?

Good question…

  1. Mental illness already has enough stigma as it is. I know countless of people who are afraid to seek help because there is stigma that comes with it. Claiming that every shooting that happens is a mental illness will create more of a stigma. “Oh, no… he’s depressed… better keep the guns away from him, he might start shooting people.”
  2. It’s only a mental illness if the shooter is a white male (white female maybe, but not enough to back it up). If it was an African American: he was protesting and angry at the world. A Hispanic: that illegal, this is why we should get rid of them (even if person was BORN IN AMERICA). A person from the Middle East: TERRORIST.

So, what should happen?

  1. Better “gun control”. I want to have my guns, I want others to have gun, but I think that heavy massive automatic guns should only be given to people whose jobs require them… like the military. #ProudOfTheTroops
  2. Paul Ryan, don’t put a mental illness label, you are not qualified. I could go on a rant about qualifications but… not the point.  Do what we elected you to do, and no it not simply to take our tax money.
  3. Everyone else, stop labeling every white male shooter as “mentally ill”. They’re not!

 

Once again, God, I thank you for the first responders  and civilian heroes that risked their lives to save lives. I ask God to give rest in heaven to the people who were lost, strength to the families who lost someone, a quick recovery to those who are wounded. I ask God to keep my beautiful country from dividing more than it already is. God help us come together as a nation, under YOU The Almighty. In Jesus name, Amen.

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13 Reasons Why: #8 Suicide is Complicated (guest author)

So I asked a friend of mine to write their 13 reasons why, and as always Will just took what I told him and ran with it. I can’t blame him since he has written a really good blog post just earlier this week.

Background: Will and I met in high school, we’ve been friends because we are both insane. (This is not the point!) Anyway, enjoy! Stay alive! God bless.

Why hello all! This is Will, coming at you from (shameless plug here)

Click here to visit his blog! Will’s Insanity! So glad you could join me today as I go above and beyond and write another blog post almost within the same week! Trust me, I’m about as shocked as you are with that news, but I promise I won’t let it affect me (sarcasm, just in case you couldn’t tell.). Now, onto the article:

First off, because I am an odd duck, I just want to make things PERFECTLY clear: Suicide is complicated. Brains are complicated. To write a list of 13 things is, for me at least, a personal one and a difficult one. I can only give you the constants, but if that doesn’t equal out to 13, then so be it. Instead, I might throw in some ways to talk to others about mental health and severe mental illness, whether it be your own or someone else you know. So, once again, let me reiterate: I AM NOT AN EXPERT IN ANY SENSE OF THE WORD! THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED HERE MIGHT NOT REFLECT THIS BLOG IN GENERAL! Let’s get started with my personal “Four Corners”

  1. My friends and family: There’s not a lot to say here. I have people I love so dearly, the thought of leaving them behind in their grief is incredibly insensitive to the common human condition. It is a fact of life: There is always, ALWAYS, at least one person who will miss you. No matter who you are or where you come from, there will always be someone who you know will be devastated by the thought of you leaving. Even as I start a new chapter in life, I am positive that most of the acquaintances and friends that I have made here will miss me. This is the point of this: I don’t want to disappoint and hurt more people that I have already perceived having hurt (even though I more than likely didn’t hurt them in the first place, but still, your brain makes you think completely irrational thoughts all the time), and I for sure don’t want to devastate the family that I have. The thought of leaving them behind with guilt and grief so incredibly heavy crushes me, and stops me from whatever I decide I am to do.
  2. The thought of leaving things unfinished: I like to see things through (most of the time), and the thought of leaving someone else to that responsibility crushes me. I know I can do the thing, so I shouldn’t have to have someone else do the work for me. I will always try my best to finish all of the opportunities I have acquired, and failure has always been a shameful thing for me, and it took me a very long time to realize that not everything that I will accomplish will be perfect or even finished. However, I have to keep moving forward to the next thing, always thinking of what to do next to take my mind off of the self-destructive thoughts that could occupy it. Things that I take on become a constant movement forward, all the while pushing me continuously towards life.
  3. The conversation about my suicidal thoughts: In the United States and beyond, mental illnesses have taken on a stigma. Talking about them gets you ridiculed and shunned, and with good reason: They’re fucking terrifying. As someone who struggles with a mental illness, trust me. That’s a similar feeling I feel every day I wake up. BUT, and this is a huge BUT, if I am talking about suicide and the academic and personal relationship that it shares with everyday life, I’m not actually committing or planning the action. Every day spent talking about it is one more day that I can add to my life. Everyday shunned for bringing up a scary topic makes it one more day you not only live, but another conversation had about this topic. These conversations help to ease fears and create a counter stigma against suicide, bi-polar disorder, and any number of another mental illnesses and examples.
  4. The final constant in my life, my faith: This is an incredibly personal one for me, because faith in and of itself is an odd dynamic of both personal and public experiences, so just bear with me here while I try to explain this. It helps me to move forward. It helps me to continue seeking a purpose. It lets me know that I am more useful and more necessary here on earth than I am dead and in heaven. I am not effective with the gifts that God has graced me with if I am dead. To be the best that I can be, I must continue to live: And that gives me hope, even in my darkest times. 

    So that’s that. The constants in my life that have always helped me to come out of my darkest moments. It’s not glamorous, and it sure as hell isn’t simple enough for 13 of them. By saying there are 13 specific reasons for my living is oversimplifying the subject completely. By saying that there are reasons at all is sometimes wrong! Sometimes, it’s just because I can’t. there’s no rhyme or reason, sometimes I just can’t. I have so little motivation that to even think about it is far too much effort. And that’s why it’s way too incredibly complicated to narrow down to 13 reasons.

     

    Thank you for your reading, I hope that in some way it helps. If it didn’t, then hey thank you, because you took the time to read it, you stayed alive. And that, for sure, is worth something!

Different Opinions are not Mental Disorders

Thank You sophomaniac2 for explaining the difference!
Great read!

will's insanity

First off, in order to understand some of this post, you will have to read an article. No, it’s not boring, and yes, you will need to at least glance over it to understand the context of this post. So without further ado, here is the article:

https://www.wsj.com/amp/articles/the-campus-left-vs-the-mentally-ill-1505343051

Now that you’re back from your glancing, let’s discuss this bull shall we:

First off, like the title suggests, A DIFFERENT POLITICAL OPINION DOES NOT REQUIRE THERAPY!!! Seriously, get out of your echo chambers, it’s really not so bad out here in the real world. Conversations usually do not result in fist fights or shouting matches if both parties can be reasonable about how they listen to the other person. In no way, shape, or form, does a political opinion on the other side of the aisle constitute an emergency worthy of counseling. As a person with a mental illness who has…

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13 Reasons why #7: Staying Alive and Other Extreme Sports

A friend of mine was going to do her 13 reasons as reason #7, but life has a way of well… doing whatever it wants, and so she will be posting later. No worries!

As a future psychologist and thus a future researcher, I never ask people to do something I, myself, wouldn’t do. This, sometimes when I am dealing with overly clever 12-year-old brother, comes and bites me in the butt. So, I decided to do what I asked four friends of mine to do. I am going to revel my reasons why I chose and choose to remain playing this Game of Life. (Get it like Game of Thrones, but it’s an actual broad game, too).

Okay!

This is hard.

Do I really have no reason?

Nope. I am so unconventional.

  1. My brothers and sister. Well my brothers and my dog, Kookie. She is a human in her own way and I love her like the sister I never had (thanks mother and father). Before I explain why they are a reason, know now, that I would gladly tie each and every one of them to a tree and beat them like piñatas. However, these five idiots offer me hope. They do it in their own weird ass way.

My brothers and I have gone through some really tough shit together. I remember beating the crap of a kid who was messing with my brother (he is 3 years younger than me and about a foot taller. He wasn’t a foot taller back then). I remember changing countless diapers and staying nights in the emergency room. They are the reason one because only one can fend for himself (and even sometimes that is questionable). I can’t opt out when I know they still need me.

  1. Wolf Star. Who is he? He’s Wolf Star to my Night Owl (poem I wrote in honor of him.) A friend of mine who wishes to remain… without name (he has his reasons.)  I met the guy back in high school and though we have not gone through shit together, he still has helped me out in those dark times we all have. He has talked me through nightmares, and when I have anxiety, he helps calm me down. Don’t get me wrong, I help him out, too, but he has helped in so many different ways it’s pointless to count.

Wolf Star was also the first person, outside my brothers, to believe in me. He had faith me even when I didn’t have faith in myself. Why is he reason 2:

Wolf Star: “Lez, you can’t die, cause if you die, I die.”

Lez (me): “Well, by that standard if you die, I die.”

Wolf Star: “I guessed we’re doomed to live forever.”

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This is me guys!!!!
  1. Matthew. Who is this guy? He is my crazy boyfriend. Crazy? Yes, he is crazy because he is dating me. He is my most improved. Back in high school, I hated him. I lost touch with him when I got in college, and about three years ago he messaged me on Facebook (the power of social media, that’s how I got back in touch with Wolf Star as well). Anyway, three years ago he messaged me and has been bothering me ever since. He has actually helped me deal with stuff as well. So, he gets most improved cause he is clearly my boyfriend and not my sworn enemy. So, he’s not just a reason because he is my boyfriend, but because he has actually helped me.
  2. My friends. Yes, I have actual life friends and not just fictional. They are my reason number four. I don’t have many friends, but the ones I do have they have seen some really, really ugly stuff and know some deep dark thoughts and horrors. Two of them (plus Wolf Star, himself) will be guest author soon. One has already been a guest author In Humble Defiance.

I remember one of them coming to my aid in the middle of night on a cold November night, granted she tried to kill me twice before and on my birthday. I remember one asking and begging me to seek help when I was being bullied in high school. I remember one offering me a place to stay. Also, yes, I have other friends. These friends I joke around with, they see when I am stressed (this happens a lot) and I help out when they are stressed as well. However, most of my friends only see what I allow them to see. So, if you are a friend of mine, QUESTION EVERYTHING!!! I kid. I joke. I jest.

And I am stuck.

  1. To prove certain people wrong. Yes, I have a list of people who have told me countless of times that I am the following: useless, worthless, good for nothing, etc., etc., blah, blah, words, crap, crap, crap.

To those people, I tell you this, I will prove you wrong. I will show you what I can accomplish and what and who I truly am. Of course, I want to accomplish for myself as well, but proving people wrong made it to number 5 because claiming that I am right is an added bonus in life.

  1. To not allow certain people to claim victory. One time long ago (I am only 22 but it feels like I have lived forever), Wolf Star knew I was being… bullied, but not in the usual sense. Anyway, one time I confessed to him that it would be easier if I died. Yes, sometimes life is crap and sometimes death seems like the best option. Wolf Star said the following, “Stay alive. Keep living, because the moment you decide to opt out (suicide), she/he wins”. (Leaving you guessing. You are welcome).

Know that life is not: easily, fair, or equal. Life, to be honest, about 75 percent of the time sucks (it gets worse when you become an adult). Anyway, sometimes there will be awful people who will make you wonder if death is the better option. It’s not! If those people, if that certain someone is so cruel, so awful, so mean, so demonic that you end your life, that person wins. That person claims victory over you, and no one should claim victory over you.

But why not, they are stronger. They are a winner.

I am going to get religious: Christ died for you. He overcame and won death so you didn’t have to.

Now “non-religious”: You are a person, the other person is a person. No one can claim you (that’s called slavery). No one should be allowed to make you feel like crap and win. Stay alive. Personally, kill them with kindness. (No, don’t go getting a sword and calling it kindness).

So, reason six: Dear bullies of the world who make me feel like I shit, in the end, it will be you who won’t matter. In the end, I will win!

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I think my next reason should be up with like my brothers, but I am too lazy to move it. Plus isn’t 7 a holy number? No really, I am asking.

Google time!

Fun Fact: 7 is considered a holy number!

  1. Hope and faith. I am a Christian. But, Lesley, aren’t you going to be a psychologist as well? Yes, so? Go and read,  Psyched About Christ, I explain all.

Anyway, like mentioned before Christ gave His life, so I could, in a sense, live forever.

Does life suck? Yes, but nowhere in the Bible does it say life is going to be easy, in fact, for followers of Christ it says the opposite. Then… why is this on your list?

Oh, because suicide is a sin? Yes, I can’t repent if I am dead. But also, that’s not the main reason. (I am going to be using the New American Standard Bible).

Romans 8:18 tells us “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Everything that is wrong with your life is nothing compared to what will be right for you in heaven. (Yes, I am low key evangelizing). This is so simple, believe in Christ as Savior of the world, repent of your sins, have faith in Him, and don’t be a shitty person. Boom! Heaven.

My faith is what offers me hope in the darkest of night, in the most troubling of storms.

Lots of people ask me what my favorite book in the Bible is. The Book of Revelations. Quick summary, in the book it’s the end of world and people, good and bad alike, are suffering, dying, being killed, etc. (you know the usually).

Wow, Peña… you got issues. Yes, I do, but not the point.

At the end, there is a promise of hope and life. I love the Book of Revelations because it offers the closest thing to human life. In the book life sucks, but the author tells us in Revelations 21:4 (my favorite verse ever!) “and He (God) will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things (the way things were before) have passed away (are no longer).”

Isn’t that beautiful? What more reason do we have to live if not this alone? I have like six more!

Wow… I got nothing…

  1. For the people, I have impacted. I would like to believe I am a good person. Yes, yes, I know no one is ever 100 percent good, but I am like maybe 75 percent good… maybe more? Anyway, I try my best to make the world a better place one person at a time. I would also like to believe I am somewhat positive impact on people I have helped throughout my life (most of the time it was little to no pay, so I wasn’t doing it for the money).

Those people: the little kids in preschool who won’t remember me, the high school (now college students) I stayed up with to go over their college application essays, my mentees at Columbia College, who I stayed up with to go over their homework college essays, to the kids I am seeing now as behavioral therapist (one of them told me “You know you have helped me, right?), and countless others that I hope I had even a small role to play in their big life, for them, I stay alive. Half the time I told them, don’t give up. Don’t quit. When life pushes you down, you get back up and push life harder. I can’t “opt out”, I can’t quit, cause if I do that gives them permission to quit and I will be damn if I let them quit.

  1. For the people who have impacted me. When I was in high school, I went to… a summer camp if you will. Basically, they helped me get into college (because I had no idea what I was doing). They spent A LOT of money on me, so much that they actually had to keep up with grades and progress for four years. When I was a junior in college, thanks to my amazing ex-boss… (I didn’t break up with her, I just moved and had to change to jobs) former boss…, I got to again go to a “summer camp” if you will. Basically, they helped me get into my graduate program (because I had no idea what I was doing). They, too, spent A LOT of money on me. They spent so much money they have to track me for ten years. Then there is my family, my friends, my former bosses, my professors, and some of my high school teachers who have impacted me in so many different ways, that if I just decided to stop living, I would let them down. I have a goal, and I will push, pull, and bite someone to accomplish that goal. I can’t give up because of them (thanks for putting so much pressure on my shoulders). Seriously though, they are on this list because I cannot, I will not, and I must not fail them.
  2. For my adopted child. I don’t have an adopted child, yet. I guess I should put, “my future adopted child”. Anyway, yes, I remain alive because one day I want to adopt a child, or two, or three, or all of them. I kid, maybe one or two.

Notice that I did not say, my future child. WHY???? Well, while I do want a child of my own (they are not special enough to make the list), I feel like the kid I adopt will benefit more. I want to be alive so I can be in a position to adopt a child and offer them love, care, protection, food, clothing, you know what a parent should offer their child.

  1. For you, my readers. About time, right! I love you guys! Why? You don’t know us?

This is truth, but I do love you. When I get motivation to write, I spend days getting the post ready. Like right now, I should be doing homework; I should be taking a shower. I am here, typing away for you! Yet, you shouldn’t be thanking me; I should be thanking you. Writing for you has been an honor. Thank you! You keep me going because I want to help as many people as possible through my jokes (I am funny) and general knowledge. I also have to thank you for putting up with me, ask Matthew or Wolf Star or my brothers, or my mother, I am not easy to deal with!!!

Reason 11: keeping writing for your education and enjoyment (best way to learn)!

  1. I still have to take over the world. I don’t mean this in the literal sense… or do I? Doesn’t that sound amazing? “Queen Lez, the Supreme Rule of the World.” I love it!

Seriously though, by this statement I mean that I still have goals to accomplish. I want to get my Ph.D., I want to eventually publish a few books, I want to move up the ranks in the Navy, I want to find some form of happiness. I still have the world to take over, and for that I need to keep living.

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  1. I still have to change the world. I still have to change the world. Every year there are about 44,193 suicides in America alone. For every one of those 44,193, 25 people attempt suicide. That means the number of people who attempt is 1,104,825. That we know of and are reported.

I can’t opt out; I can’t quit. I still have a mission. I am going to accomplish this mission? Not alone. I need your help. I need for everyone to spread the world that even if during the darkest of nights, the most powerful of storms, the deepest depression, the anger, the pain, spread the world YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I have been there, and the guest authors have been there.

So dear readers, I need your help for my 13th reason to come true. Spread the world, spread this post if you want, I don’t care, but call that friend, that family member, yourself. Call that person and let them know they are loved!

 

I pray for the safety of every one of you. Know you are not alone. I am here, so are countless others. I care (I am not getting paid for this and yet I am doing this). Other people care about you. The CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE is here and cares about you and isn’t that awesome?

 

Stay alive through the night. If you are reading this and thinking about ending everything, promise me this, promise me now, you will stay alive through the night. You are loved! Keep strong, keep going!

 

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

13 Reasons Why # 6: I Want to Live

Hello people of Earth! So, September is suicide prevention month and while I cannot and will not promise I will have a post everyday like I did last year, I can offer you at least 2 if not three or four.

Today I want to introduce a friend of mine Bradford Raines. I met him way back in the days of high school (I am high school class of 2013 so I am not that old, though at times I feel ancient.) Anyway, I gave Brad a simple task: tell me 13 reasons why you want to live. He gave me about 5 pages and it is so worth the read. Anyway, here it, enjoy:

1 – In 2005 I was nine years old. Looking back, that year being thirteen years ago seems both too short and too long. I was still a kid doing kid things, but that was the year I moved from the neighborhood I’d lived in since I was five. Having been homeschooled after kindergarten, friends were very important to me, and I longed for a social life like I saw kids having on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon TV shows. Indeed, watching TV was often the only window I had into the lives of other kids, and it provided a false picture of what friendship, love, and life in general were like. I don’t think like other people that TV is harmful, but I think that it can be if you’re an impressionable young mind with no way of telling what’s realistic and what’s a cliché invented for a storyline. Moving away from the only real friends I had only amplified this naivety, and undoing my loss in social interaction as a child took most of this list.

2- In 2006 I was ten and finally settled into my new home. This was also the year my parents decided to put my sister and I in a private Christian school, something I was ecstatic about.

3- In 2007, towards the end of the school year, my grades were so high that the school agreed to let me skip the 5th grade and move me with the 6th graders. It was in the 6th grade that I reach probably the first really defining moment here, which is the first day of school when we were introducing ourselves. Everyone was doing the standard “I’m Tim, I go to church at such and such and I want to be a fireman”, and of course when it was my turn I had to double the syllables with my wordy explanations (something that never stopped, if you haven’t noticed) and say, “My name is Brad, I’m 11, and when I grow up I want to be an Animal Biologist/Paleontologist/Cryptozoologist!” I thought everyone was awed by my intellectual pursuits but they were probably just weirded out. No one in the room knew what most of those words were, especially not the last one, and then when we were grabbing our textbooks from the shelves in the back of the room one kid walked up to me and said, “So you want to be a cryptozoologist, too?” That kid and I became best friends that year, and we have been up to this day. Even though I don’t believe in bigfoot anymore.

Alone Boy Sitting Stairs Child Young

4- 2008 was the start of middle school at my school, and with each passing day I was bothered by the fact I hadn’t had a “real” girlfriend beyond the childish “I like you and we play tag and go on slides together” relationship I had as a kid. I asked a lot of girls out at my school but, going back to where I got my ideas of how social interaction worked, you can imagine how those turned out. Things got very tough at home, too, due to the recession making my parents unemployed. At the time, it was a temporary time to be thrifty until we could be middle class again, but I had no idea that we would never be a middle-class family again.

5- In 2009, as times got tougher, my grandmother would help us out with food and clothes and come visit more. My best friend and I were the weird kids at school, and nothing really changed for me. Memories of grilling out and staying up past midnight and talking about life’s woes and mercies are some of my fondest from that time in my life.

6- 2010 was no better than 2009, and relying on God’s Pantry for food, and long, sad nights of not knowing if we could pay rent became more normal. I wasn’t involved in financial discussions with my parents but I had a definite sense of where things were and it was that sense, combined with my urge for something “more” and the typical high school experience, that drove me to ask that my parents put me in public school. My first day at Mauldin High School was absolutely overwhelming, and I had that strange feeling of being happy-scared that tends to come with first days in new chapters. The classes were very hard, and I had trouble making friends at first, but I soon found a home with a lunch group, one of whom is doing a writing project I’m contributing this for. I’m not close with any of my friends from then, but I still think about them every now and then and hope they’re doing well.

It was towards the end of the year that something very important happened. I was at lunch, sitting facing away from the long tables, when I glanced to my right and saw a girl from one of my classes doing the same thing. There were a few seats between us, but I felt like I had to say something to her. I still didn’t really know how to talk to girls, and every fiber of my being was telling me what it always told me, “Today isn’t the day” “Try another day” “You don’t need to make any new friends here” “This isn’t the time”

I took a deep breath, moved down and asked, “Aren’t you in my gym class?” and then after she said yes, “What are you reading?” That single moment gives me goosebumps because of how my life changed due to it, and not at all for the reason you think.

7- 2011 was the year that girl and I started dating. I was on cloud 9 because I’d never dated anyone, and the only thing I really remember is being happy; Happy in a way I’ve only recently gotten to know again, which is why I want to mention these things that happened. It didn’t last, though, and I can still remember everything about that cold night in November when Gramma fell asleep after her surgery and didn’t wake up.

8- 2012 didn’t fare any better than the end of 2011. Money was getting a lot worse, and we found out our family dog of a decade had cancer. The grave we dug for her was still fresh when my first girlfriend broke up with me, and my depression from that was only worsening when we got kicked out of our house and had to live in a motel. We soon found a trailer to move into, and I attended Woodmont High for two weeks before dropping out. Mauldin was going to hold me back a year for taking too many sick days, something that transferred with me to Woodmont. I didn’t want to be 18 in the tenth grade, so I decided to get a GED. “Just not this year, maybe next year” I told myself.

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It was very lonely there. Dad landed a job at the motel, but it wasn’t enough to keep a family of four afloat. I remember one night in December the power got cut off and Mom, Dad and my sister were going to the motel, but I refused to go. I still remember sitting on the couch cushions I slept on, doing my best to keep the pets warm, and reading by candlelight in the cold. The power came back the next day and so did my family, but the sense of isolation was there to stay.

9- In the first weeks of January 2013 we were worried we couldn’t pay rent and were worried about being kicked out again. Dad woke me up and said I needed to start packing my things. We went to the motel but I was sick and tired of it all. I wanted a different life, one that wasn’t so dark, and I began texting my best friend to let him know I was going to just start walking. I didn’t know where and I didn’t know what I expected to happen but anything was better than this. He tried to convince me not to but I didn’t listen, and I also reached out to my ex to let her know. I still don’t know why I did, but, looking back, I’m so glad I did.

She begged her parents to let me live with them, and they took me in. Words cannot express how happy I was to have a second chance at life. Saying goodbye to my family was so hard, but I knew I had to and after hugs and tears I was reunited with a family I thought I’d never see again.

I wish I could say that I moved in and took my future as seriously as I needed to, that my ex and I became like brother and sister, and I became a part of their family, but life isn’t that simple, and I had my own mistakes to make. After doing good things like get my GED and get my first job (at a car wash) I took for granted the generosity I was shown, and began seeing my ex again after being told not to as a condition of my stay there, and we were together for six months before having a huge falling out. Her parents found out about us and were, rightfully, livid, and it was not a great situation for anyone. I grew very close to her brother and sister through it all, though, because even the most stupid mistakes can bloom some blossoms in life.

Towards the end of this year, likely the most eventful of my life, I started school at Greenville Tech and started working at Mauldin Sports Center.

10- In 2014 I was able to move from the family I was living with on somewhat amicable terms. I was good friends with my ex’s sister and brother, but there was a lot of healing that needed to be done for the bridges I burned with her parents. I didn’t have my license or a car, so I took a break from school after the spring semester. That summer, my ex’s brother got married, and I was a groomsman, so I accompanied the family on a road trip to Massachusetts for the wedding, a week I would definitely place in my top five, despite the tension under the surface at times.

11- 2015 was essentially just a work year for me. I stayed at that townhouse and kept to myself most of the time. Despite my comfortable situation, especially compared to the years prior, I wasn’t advancing in life at all, and knew I needed to take steps to get things in order. Education, money, and a car were things I needed, but it was difficult to get either of them without one of the others. I had lost touch with my parents after I moved, visiting them less and less, largely because their situation hadn’t improved and I felt like I failed them because I couldn’t help them. I had a nightmare that my dad passed away one night, and the thought of him dying without us being close was too heartbreaking to entertain. I began calling them every few days, then every other day, and finally I developed the habit of calling them every day.

12- One night at work, in February of last year, my dad called me, which made my heart stop because I was worried something was wrong with my mom or sister, so I had to work up the courage to answer the phone after a few deep breaths. “Did you talk to mom?” he asked. After I answered no, he said, “Uncle Rick killed himself today”. Uncle Rick never married and lived with Gramma until she passed away. He struggled with depression and Bipolar Disorder. I wasn’t close to him at all, but it hit me really hard that he took his own life.

My mom’s sister and her husband came up from Charleston for the funeral, and after catching up with me, offered me a room in there house so that I can get my life in order. I wasn’t ready to leave my friends here, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I started working at CVS, first as an overnight cashier, then as a Pharmacy Technician. One night, I was working late and it was slow, and one of the pharmacists mentioned that he was trying to get sell a ‘94 Ford Ranger. I told him I needed a vehicle, and he sold it to me.

13- In January of this year, a very good friend of mine in Clemson said in our group chat with some of our friends that they needed a roommate. I missed the upstate, and told them I’d love to move up here. So now here I am. Last month I got a job at Firehouse Subs as a shift leader, and I’m going to be attending classes at Tri-County Tech in the Fall, looking at transferring to Clemson and majoring in Journalism.

I wanted to explain my journey these past thirteen years because it makes it easier to understand the significance of overcoming my demons. I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember, from turning the water on to take a bath as a kid and getting worried mom and dad are arguing, so I turn it off, listen, then back on, then back off, to laying awake at night unable to sleep because I’m afraid of sleeping through my alarm. I’ve struggled with depression since around 2009, sometimes just not wanting to get out of bed, or talk to anyone, and increasingly in frequency I had suicidal thoughts, peaking, as you can imagine, in the 2012/2013 area of my life.

I thought I could never have a “normal” life. I began to view success in life as being 1) Measurable and 2) Being measured as how many people respect you. After 2013 love sort of fell out of the equation, and despite my friendly exterior my internal monologue was typically plotting how I needed to let go of my friendships and even morals in favor of excelling at school, so that I could one day get into politics and try to make a difference.

I’d had my chance at happiness, I thought, and I’d lost it. I wanted to martyr myself, and choose a disciplined, unhappy life, while trying to “avenge” my family by being “successful”.

That all fell apart last year.

I moved in with my aunt and uncle, and was in contact with someone running for congress in Charleston. He never contacted me for volunteer work, though, and around last fall I had an epiphany watching a documentary on Netflix, of all things.

I realized that the world will never improve because one person decided to be like politics batman, and internalize their depression, and use their anger to drive them. I realized that, even if I accomplished what I saw as success, I wouldn’t be happy, and if I was remembered, I wouldn’t be there to experience it.

And, most important of all, I realized that everything I’ve experienced, from baking cookies with Gramma, to playing outside with the neighbor kids, discovering puppy love and losing it, to learning to love again. From going to see James Cameron’s Avatar in 3D with Uncle Rick, to regretting that I hadn’t reached out to him while he was so alone, to hiking Table Rock with one of my best friends and taking in the beautiful horizon, from being born in 1994 to an unlikely couple, to moving to Charleston last year, these memories were all a part of me, a part of my story.

My story wasn’t unique. Billions upon billions of others, filled with love and hate, joy and sorrow, courage, and fear, have all graced this beautiful earth, and billions more will follow. It’s this sense that has caused me to transcend whatever state of mind I was getting by with before. It’s this sense that has made me love life again. I love drinking coffee and thinking about the world, I love going to Walmart and in those brief moments where I make eye contact with a stranger and smile, knowing that they have a life just as complicated and amazing as mine.

I could never take my life because of the love I feel for my friends and family; every memory I create with them is a testament to the unlikeliness of life. That kid from 6th grade who believed in bigfoot as much as I did is still my best friend to this day, and now, in our twenties, we still stay up past midnight sometimes and talk about the world. If I hadn’t talked to that girl from my gym class, I would have had no one to take me in when I was going to just walk and probably end up dead on the street somewhere. If I hadn’t talked to her, I would never have worked at the gym for three years, or moved to Charleston, but some other chain of events could have followed, and that’s what’s so wonderful about life. I could never take my life because I’m curious about where I’ll be in ten, twenty, or sixty years. Where will I live? Who will I spend my time with? What kind of job will I have? I want to know how the story ends.

Finally, and most importantly, I could never take my life because of hope. I have hope for the world, hope for my friends and family, and hope for my future. I lost hope in happiness, and I got it back when I thought it was impossible. I want to lead by example, and live a happy life to show those that are unhappy that there can be joy after cynicism. I want to make Christmas special for someone else like my grandmother did for me, and I want someone to see in my eyes what I see in theirs. I want to be happy, make other people happy, and maybe, just maybe, someone I do know, hurting like I don’t know, will decide not to take their life.

Thank you Brad for those insightful word wisdom. He shows us that when things get bad, don’t go with them. Stand firm and know you are not alone.

In the United States: Text CONNECT to 741741.

If you are not in the US my post,  has a link to the hotlines there.

Stay strong, stay alive. You are loved.

13 Reasons Why #5: Popcorn Eaters and Bystanders

Hello fellow popcorn eaters! Long time no writing. I have no excuses. Now a lot has happened since a few weeks ago not just in my life but all over the country and the world. I will get to those issues and the psychologically of them later, but I think it’s time the long overdue 5th reason.

I would like to introduce the 1964 Kitty Genovese’s murder in New York City. Genovese was stabbed to death outside her apartment while bystanders who observed the crime did not step in to assist or call the police. Social psychologists Bibb Latané and John Darley attributed the bystander effect to the perceived diffusion of responsibility (onlookers are more likely to intervene if there are few or no other witnesses) and social influence (individuals in a group monitor the behavior of those around them to determine how to act). In Genovese’s case, each onlooker concluded from their neighbors’ inaction that their own personal help was not needed.

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For this post, unless told otherwise, my quotes are going to be by Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and a author of Night.

So why is this a reason? Well reason 4: Bullying? Okay so in 13 Reasons Why our beloved hero Clay was a bystander. The bystander effect affected Hannah. (Hahaha say that sentence five times fast. Ready. GO!)  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t just Clay, but the whole school. Everyone has at one point been a bystander to bullying, abuse, or other similar negative actions.

A bystander is someone who sees or knows about bullying or other forms of violence that is happening to someone else; they can either be part of the problem (hurtful bystander) or part of the solution (helpful bystander). It’s easy to ignore incidents of bullying, or walk away thinking “at least it’s not me”.

But believe it or not, by doing nothing you are contributing to the problem — and you may be giving bullies the “okay” to carry on with their behavior.

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Bystanders are not effected by bullying, Lesley.

Right… and people who go the movies don’t love movie theater popcorn, right?

WRONG!!!

Some kids and adults may think that bullying only affects the bullies and their victims. However, bystanders who repeatedly witness bullying may be more likely to suffer emotional and physical trauma and distress than those who witnessed less bullying. Penn State researchers JoLynn Carney, Ph.D., and Richard Hazler, Ph.D., said such trauma could affect bystanders for life. In Penn State News, Carney said that bullying can cause bystanders to “demonstrate physical stress symptoms of increased heart rate and perspiration as well as high levels of self-reported trauma even years after bullying events.”

You are seeing someone hurt someone else… it would be inhuman to not think, “Dang, maybe I am next”.

Everyone, not just the bullies and the victims, are affected by bullying. It leads to lifelong social mistrust and damaged relationships that can cause a chain reaction of relationship problems that permeate into adulthood. Hazler said that trust was higher among students who were less exposed to bullying.

“Traumatic life experience is one of the strongest factors that reduce trust in other people, and study results suggest that a similar effect for school-age children may be related to the trauma caused by bullying,” said Hazler in Penn State News.

Why mistrust?

Bystanders don’t help or support the victims. A major part of them always lives with that regret and also doubt. Doubt because they know that maybe one day they will be the victim and no one will reach out and help them.

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“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

We all have a role to play in erasing bullying, and protecting the rights of ourselves and others. You can take a stand against bullying by standing up for someone else — without putting yourself at risk, or becoming a bully yourself.

Bystanders have the power to play a key role in preventing or stopping bullying. Some bystanders directly intervene, by discouraging the bully, defending the victim, or redirecting the situation away from the bully. Other bystanders get help, by rallying support from peers to stand up against bullying, or by reporting the bullying to an adult.

Here are some ways you can become a helpful bystander:

  • Make it clear to your friends that you won’t be involved in bullying behavior.
  • Never stand by and watch or encourage bullying behavior. It may not be happening to you — but what if it was?
  • Don’t harass, tease or spread gossip about others — this includes on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Have you ever liked a cruel Facebook post or mean photo about someone else? Think twice — this is just as bad as you posting it, and sometimes… it could be worse.
  • Never forward or respond to messages or photos that might be offensive or upsetting.
  • Support the person who is being bullied to ask for help, or report it. Help them find a trusted adult or show them where they can get help or report the incident.
  • Report bullying to someone you trust (like a teacher, principal, your parents, etc.). If the bullying is serious or you think someone’s life or safety is at risk, report it to the police.

In 13 Reasons Why, I do believe that Hannah just wanted someone to help her. Someone to standup for her. She didn’t want a bystander. She wanted a friend. Unfortunately, even Clay showed her indifference and well, as Wiesel said: “Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies.”

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Seeing someone being harassed or abused is not an invention for you to pull out the popcorn and your cell phone. It is your chance to save a life, make a friend, change the course of someone’s future.

 

“Because it may seem like a small role now, but it matters. In the end, everything matters.”  Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

In Honor of Chester

Today I got up and went to work. I took notes for kid who will never know who I am and  I will never know who he is. I typed the noted, went home, and ate mac and cheese.

I got a message. “Hey, Lez, did you hear? Chester Bennington was found dead today.”

“Chester Bennington?”

“Linkin Park.”

And then the conversation started.

I loved Linkin Park; their songs got me through some of the darkest years of life (yes high school) and I still enjoying listening to them.

This is not a suicide post (it looks like he died from suicide) that will come later on. Today I want to honor him my providing you with some of my favorite lyrics from his songs.

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“Time is a valuable thing/Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings/ Watch it count down to the end of the day/The clock ticks life away” In the End

“I’m tired of being what you want me to be/ Feeling so faithless, lost under the surface/ I don’t know what you’re expecting of me/ Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes” Numb

“I don’t want to be the one the battles always choose/’cause inside I realize that I’m the one confused” Breaking the Habit 

“Sometimes solutions aren’t so simple/ Sometimes goodbye’s the only way, oh” Shadow of the Day 

“Put to rest what you thought of me/ While I clean this slate/ With the hands of uncertainty/ So let mercy come and wash away/ What I’ve done” What I have Done 

“The light on the horizon/ Was brighter yesterday/ Shadows floating over/ Skies begin to fade/ You said it was forever/ But then it slipped away” Final Masquerade

“In the wastelands of today/ Where tomorrow disappears/ While the future slips away/ And your hope turns into fear” Wastelands

These are just some. They made beautiful music that still helps and impacts thousands if not billions today.

Chester was not weak.

Chester was not retard (yes, I have heard people call him that)

Chester was not a coward (you have to be pretty damn brave to hang yourself)

Chester was suffering

Chester was hurt

Chester needed help

My prayers are with him and his family.

Once again like always if you are anyone you know is thinking about suicide please know you are not alone. Call 1-800-273-8255 or text 74174 1.

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“God bless us everyone/ We’re a broken people living under loaded gun/ And it can’t be outfought/ It can’t be out done/ It can’t be out matched/ It can’t be out run” Catalyst