Musings About Mortality, Mental Illness and Such


“I appear at times merry and in good heart, talk, too, before others quite reasonably, and it looks as if I felt, too, God knows how well within my skin. Yet the soul maintains its deathly sleep and the heart bleeds from a thousand wounds.”

― Hugo Wolf

My mind is like a sieve. If something has me rattled, then I have to filter it through to my writing. I can’t not write about it. Writing is the platform on which drips the blood from the heart on my sleeve.

A few days ago, I learned that someone I know died. Without going into too much detail, it seems like a suicide, but it could be an accidental situation as well. It’s best not to speculate on that point. But it’s always a surreal feeling when someone you know dies, especially when that someone is close to your own age. In a way, it’s like a morbid reflection into your own mortality. That, fuck, man, you ain’t invincible like you think you are.

And as cliché as it seems, it’s another affirmation that you can’t take any of this shit for granted. I’m not religious, albeit maybe somewhat spiritual (in a science/nature way), but every day that you wake up breathing, still sensing, still feeling, still connecting with other people – your loved ones – is a damn good day.

I’ve only known two people around my age to have died. One is the one I’m referencing now and another was a girl I knew from my bowling league days and through a friend in high school. We bonded over our infatuation with professional wrestling. We’d text each other during Monday Night Raw, “Did you see this?! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?!” kinda thing.

We made plans to go to a Monday Night Raw. She even got the tickets. But then she died about a month before. As sad as it is and tragic as it is, it wasn’t totally a blindsiding shocker. She had had a plethora of medical problems for years, but fuck, she was strong. Always seemed bubbly and fun to talk to. Never dwelled on her problems. Which is profound to me.

But that funeral was rough. Again, seeing someone you know and that’s close to your age, sitting, dead, in a casket, is not a visual that conveys to the brain easily. It doesn’t make sense; it’s not supposed to be that way.

When I heard this recent news that another person that I know and around my age had died, I did the literal jaw-drop. And there was another layer to it as well. Mental illness and suicide is among the issues I am most sincerely and genuinely passionate about. There’s not many things I am able to maintain a consistent level of obsession with, but this topic does that for me. I care deeply for anybody affected by diseases of the mind, especially because it is so misunderstood in society (the stigma). And suicide is perceived much worse therein.

More people die by suicide than car accidents and most certainly by guns in this country. In 2010, 38,364 people died by suicide (the latest data, I believe, correct me if I’m wrong) compared to 33,687 in motor vehicle accidents. That’s astonishing to me. And I’ve analyzed that number, tried to speak to that number and so on, but now, that number hits much closer to home because of what it could mean here.

At the very least, we know that 1 in 5 Americans have a mental illness of some sort. How many of them are suffering alone? Undiagnosed? Afraid or unwilling to come forward for the help they need? It’s troubling to consider.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this – sometimes the filtering doesn’t have a destination in mind. I guess I just wish in a different world, he could’ve gotten the help and direction he seemingly needed. That many of us need.

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