I can blame it on my late Dad, but my very seasonal gloom between Thanksgiving and St. Ronnie’s Birthday has been with me for a decade; the Fun Sized version of a deep sadness and lonlieness I’ve lived with since I was 13. I’ve worked very hard – over a very long time and with a load of help that would be snug on a Panamax vessel — to convince this guy that it’s all okay and that fine.
It is work. Like taking 40mg of omeprazole every day to keep your stomach from growing new holes or eating spinach, caring for your mental health is something you get to remember every morning . I watch out for things that might turn the buzz in my head up to 11, but I know what to do to keep the train rolling when life keeps the knob stuck at 7. It is not easy. Keeping the right balance is tricky; push it too hard either way and blood is going to come out of unexpected places.
I am also very lucky to have people – sitting right here — who want me to be well and give me the space and help to get there, with no other agenda.
Still, these months are hard, even in years that weren’t total dumpster fires like 2020/2021. I long for 2019. And a Scorpion Bowl.
In 2018, 48,344 American’s took their lives by suicide, out of 1.4 million attempts. 70% of “successful” suicides were white men, Most, like me, were over the age of 45. Over half were done with a firearm.
Naturally, these numbers don’t include those people who’ve died from opioids or drink while trying to keep their black dogs’ bark to a whimper. These numbers are for intentional suicides.
Suicides have skyrocketed since 2008. Tentative details for 2020 indicate those numbers will hit the moon.
“It’s easy to bash white middled-aged men in America. As a member of that privileged group, I’ll admit that much of the bashing has been warranted: No group in the history of the world has been given and squandered more than the white man. Yet the American white man is responsible for enough suicides annually that Madison Square Garden could not hold all the victims. And no matter how privileged, that’s somebody’s dad, someone’s friend, someone’s brother and someone’s husband.”From Rolling Stone
Each of these deaths is a tragedy.
Still, even in their unbearable grief, none of their family members is going to write a rose-colored eulogy for these men. No review of their herculean work or study ethic, lament for their now-silent piano. No one is going to start a charity to continue the Biblical sacrifices they’ve made to lift up the poor. No one is going to read their bio in primetime on MSNBC. Complete strangers will not dot their RIPs with a single-tear emoji, a big hug emoji. The President-elect is not going to call their wives, children, or parents.1
The death of each of these men is a tragedy. We are living through an an epidemic of despair.
When I do go, it will be worn by age and crippled by extreme hugs from my small family. Still, I’m certainly aware there are other ways to get to the end of the street. No matter how I make it there, I hope that the people who love me get a chance to tell their story about me. And I hope that it is true and uncluttered with hyperbole and honest about the struggles I faced. I hope that they can show the world Rob the man, makeup free and with a lens clean of Vaseline, and not Rob the Demigod. I hope that they can be honest about how I left.
“Rob was so handsome that it was impossible to look directly at him; his reflection was tolerable, but just barely. His writing was clear and accurate and brought joy to the heart and tears to the eyes to those few who read it. He was kind to dogs and babies.
“As so many you know first-hand clarity Rob was nothing if not a gigantic, unrepentant asshole. A genuine prick.
“You wouldn’t know he was dead for his ice cold toes. He was in bed at 9, paperback on his face and headphones turned up to 11, two wool sweaters and a quilt around his shoulders, when his wife of 60 years found him. She kicked over his last cup of tea, thoughtlessly placed at the foot of his nightstand.
“We’ll miss him, but he could be a bitch to live with.”
This is right and true.
- I can’t imagine their pain, but as I read their eulogy for their son, I don’t see depression. The talking cure and a prozac would not fix what ailed him. I see a young man of exceptional talent trying to fill a hole within himself. Not a saint, not a machine, not a prodigy but someone who could never fill that hole and that’s the disease. To identify it as anything else neither honest nor helpful to those who struggle.
In other words: while hitting the ground @ 120 miles per hour is what killed you, it was the aircraft – held together with duct tape and good vibes – falling apart over Newark that caused of your death. Blaming the ground serves no one. ↩