Life Sentence – Living with Mental Illness


I need to preface this story by assuring my friends and family that I am OK.  I am in no immediate danger, to myself or others.  To those that know me personally a lot of this story may be a hard read, it has certainly been a hard write.  It’s sad at points, but understand that it has been my love for you and your love in return that has kept me strong.

A second preface (post preface i guess), I started out this story as a Facebook post but while digging to put it together I’ve come to realize that it’s far too long of a story to tell in one post, so I’m going to have to put it out in chapters or as the kids say, a blog.  the web address is

The TLDR version of the story and why I feel the need to tell it now is this:  I deal with mental health issues but I’m pretty sure I’ve got it under control.  However, when I hear news stories about  “seemingly normal guys” who shoot ….a lot…. of other people I wonder that if 20 years ago, when he was the age that I am now, if he was fighting the same fight i am fighting now.  Then i look at how my issues haven’t gotten any better, but worse, ,and I wonder what my fight will look like 20 years from now. Let me tell you, it scares the ever living hell out of me.

So I am sharing my life of living with mental issues while remaining a functional citizen in the hopes that others will do the same and we, as a nation, can take a long hard look about an important issue we universally agree about but are still uncomfortable talking about.  The following is the start of that post.


Every time there is a mass shooting in this country not only is there an outcry for gun control but there is also plea from many that goes unheard.  That plea is for a national conversation on Mental Health.  I understand why that plea goes unheard even though every one agrees that that it is a serious issue.  The reason is that it is a very complex and very uncomfortable subject to talk about.    So I’m willing to put myself out there to start it off but it’s up to all of us to continue it. So if any of my story resonates with you,  please share it with others.  (breathe deep) Here it goes,

My name is Ryan and I’m crazy.  Functional crazy, but crazy none the less.  Now I know i may get a lot of folks criticizing me for saying “crazy” instead of “mentally ill”,  “clinically depressed” or “anxious” or any of the other medical terms for what ever it is I am but crazy is how I feel and how most people still view folks with mental illness.

I hallucinate rooms filled with smoke and smell the stench of a wood fire about once a week.  This all stems from an apartment fire a few years ago.   My downstairs neighbor’s apartment had a slow fire burning in  it, some boxes left on a stove burner. Her place was filled with smoke, that smoke started to leak into my apartment.  When I went downstairs to check on her, knocking at her front door.  I heard a weak moan.   I opened the door, all I could see was black.  The thickest darkest smoke I have ever seen from floor to ceiling.  Long story short,  I called 9-1-1 and while waiting for help I  decided to go into the apartment myself and pull my neighbor out of the smoke.  The fire chief said it was the worst case of smoke inhallation he had ever seen where the person lived.   That should have been a good day and in many ways it was, I mean I saved someones life, that’s an awesome feeling I draw on when things look there bleakest.  But it was also a traumatic experience that somehow chipped away at my sanity and caused me to hallucinate on a weekly basis.

The smoke in my hallucinations is light and whispy most of the time but some times when I wake up in the middle of the night it is the black thick smoke from the night of the fire. At first it would fill me with a panic when i saw the smoke.  I would get my dogs out of the house and then search the place top to bottom to make sure that there wasn’t an actual fire.  After it happened a few times I was able to rationally deduce it was just a hallucination but if I am alone I still have to check because I’m afraid that some day there may be another fire and if I ignore it people could get hurt.  When i am out in public and I hallucinate  I have to rely on the fact that no one else seems to notice the smoke ( what if it’s just too light for them to see it?) but I keep a sharp eye out just in case(what if it’s a cook in the back, slipped, knocking himself out and starting a grease fire?). This can be distracting.  When I am with close family with whom I’ve shared this with before I still ask, “There’s no smoke in here….right?”.  Even though I can read their  faces it makes me feel better to get an objective answer.

Now, the hallucinations weren’t my first foray into mental illness, it’s just the first I mention because most folks can agree that seeing shit that isn’t there is kinda crazy.

At 13  I started getting what I have always called “mind aches”.  A mind ache isn’t a physical headache like migraines, it’s an emotional headache.  The closest thing I can compare it to is the headache you get when some one close to you dies.  Not the crying headache, that comes later, the initial emotional shock that makes the headache feel larger then your actual head and all reality too much to bear.    I thought these were normal.  “Everybody gets sad sometimes.”

The mind aches would last anywhere from 15 min to 4 hours.  The first few big ones were accomponied by “visions”.  They weren’t like the hallucinations I get now, they never felt “real”, but more like the film of a waking dream being played over reality. After a couple of years of this I started to suspect maybe this wasn’t normal, none of my friends had mentioned crippling headaches but then again I never told them about mine.

I told my girlfriend at the time, but I didn’t tell anyone else and I certainly didn’t even think about getting “professional help” because I  wasn’t crazy.  “Psychologists are for crazy people”.

I wasn’t going to give in and “be crazy”, I was going to beat crazy.  I was nerd, before it was cool, and my plan was to out smart  my own crazy with logic.  That’s why i was able to handle the hallucinations as well as I did.  I had been practicing how to distinguish reality from delusion with logic since my teens.

The mindaches started to precede a cycle of depression.  I get three to four cycles of severe depression a year with each cycle lasting about a month to a 45 days.  They started out minor but quickly got worse.

When I was 15 I wrote a page long suicide note, with my own blood, while in first period study hall.  I gave it to my girlfriend in between classes.  She, thankfully,  gave it to a guidance counselor who called my parents.   I was eating lunch when a teacher told me they wanted to talk to me in the office, I saw my parents through the lunch room windows walking quickly towards the office.  That was the first time I saw fear in my Dad’s eye’s

We briefly talked to the guidance counselor, i assured them that I wasn’t going to kill myself and they let me go home.  I was exhausted and went to take a nap.  My Dad laid down on the floor next to my bed as i slept.  That was the day I promised myself that I could never commit suicide because it would hurt the ones i loved too much.  I thought of it, and still do a times, as a “Life Sentence” instead of a “Death Sentence” and some how, I find that tragically hopeful…..but tragic.


Calling all Leaders!

     Calling all leaders!  Our country is a state of emergency due to a severe leadership deficiency.  Our Congress is made up of two groups of people, lawyers and business people.  Is it any wonder that all of our laws are written in “lawyerese” with loopholes that benefit business people  These two groups of people are not representative of who we are as a nation.  We need to fill Congress with teachers, engineers, scientists, farmers, truck drivers and anyone else of high moral character willing to sacrifice an easy life in the wealthiest free nation in the world, for the sake of our Country. What we don’t need are more career politicians.

     If you feel like your politicians are deaf to the problems we are facing as a nation, then I implore you to run for office.  Check out what’s going on in your city council, see what congressional seats are going to be open in the 2018  and 2020 elections.  Many of these politicians run unopposed.  We must give them opposition.  

     Democracy only works if the government is afraid of the people, afraid that if they don’t legislate in ways that reflect the ideals of this nation, then we will toss them aside for folks who will.  We must take our country back from the political machine and its agenda.  If we still believe in “The Great American Experiment”, that the people can run a country without the need of a king, then we,The People, must take our country back from the politicians.  It’s up to us to show the politicians how to lead since they seem unwilling or ignorant on how to do so.

If you feel that you can’t take a leadership role, for whatever reason, you can still an integral part of this movement.  VOTE!  Educate yourself on the people seeking office Question their motives.  Go to rally’s and debates where you can hear them with your own ears and look them in the eye face to face.  Find a leader that represents you.  Then… fucking VOTE!


     “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”

Thomas Jefferson


     Just to make this clear, I don’t care whether you consider yourself a conservative or a liberal, we need inspirational leaders willing to work for this country and not a political party.  Leaders, like J.F.K., who INSPIRED us to reach the moon.  Leaders, like M.L.K. Jr., who showed us that peaceful protest DOES work if you are persistent.  Hell, leaders, like John Lennon, who suggested that we just give peace a CHANCE.  Then we, the people, need to elect these leaders (instead of assassinating them) and then, and this is important, we need to hold them accountable.  “All politicians lie.” is not a statement with which we should be okay.  Politicians who willingly lie to the country need to be publicly shamed.  We can not accept this “new normal” and expect for our country to survive.  



 Please send help.



     Now for the elephant in the room.  I think Trump’s “win” shows that folks are already picking up what I’m laying down.  While Trump isn’t a career politician he most certainly is a businessman, maybe an extremely inept businessman, which for some reason, folks don’t seem to care about nearly as much as they do the perception that he is a good businessman, that is just his branding.  That’s the one business that has consistently made him money, selling his name to other construction developers to use.  He bankrupted three casinos! How do you do that?  I personally doubt that he is even a billionaire. I think that’s the real reason he won’t release his taxes, we will see him for he really is.

     He is a snake oil salesman who ran the election like a reality show and we watched.  He intentionally lied at every corner, about every opponent and we continued to listen. He encouraged people to fear…other countries, other religions, other people, other Americans and all of the media… and we did. He literally promised  “everything you want” , and said that he was the only man who could do it but when pressed for how he was going to “do it”, he offered us only magic beans….and we bought them. We as voters need to take responsibility for educating ourselves on the candidates and we need to vote with our moral values not just economics and party affiliation.

     Who we elect as our leaders says who we are as a nation, not to just us, but they are a reflection of who we are to the world. If we, as Americans, can’t trust what our President says because of his blatant disregard for the truth then how can we expect any other nation to trust us. The President is our peoples representative to the rest of the world and I do not believe that Trump represents anyone but himself. He certainly doesn’t represent the America I grew up in, nor the America I see around me now, nor the one I want to leave behind.  We need to elect leaders that not only reflect who we are but who we aspire to be.

We need leaders that inspire us to have courage in the face of fear, not leaders who tell us that our problems are because of “insert racial group of choice” and that we should fear and hate them. This is how demagogues come to power (the bad type)

Trump’s claims that only he can “save” our country, that he knows more than the Generals and that he is his only advisor are more concerning.  Those are the words of a Tyrant.  This “new breed” of leaders I‘m calling for must also be willing to learn, specifically because they will be new to politics.  They must be willing to learn about all the issues so they can have an informed voice at the table.  They must surround themselves with experts on as many fields as they can and listen to what those experts have to say.  But most importantly they need to be able to work with people.  They must be able to throw dogmatism to the wind, be able listen to folks who disagree with their stance, find common ground and forge a path forward.  They must inspire the elected officials already in office to give up the “game” of partition politics and do something truly courageous,… work on behalf of the people of this country.

Tall order, I know, but look what’s at stake.  If we don’t take control of our government our government will continue to control us.

Aaron’s Story

This is the story of my friend, Aaron Scott.  Aaron was a friend of mine for as long as I’ve known the word “friend.”  I remember spending the night at his house watching Conan movies and playing G.I. Joes when we were young. We would have to get up before dawn because he had a paper route.  His mother, Angie, always helped get the papers rolled and ready, then she’d drive us around the neighborhood as we ran the papers to customer’s doorsteps. After the papers were delivered, she always made us a real breakfast.  Pancakes, eggs, bacon, not cold cereal.  I remember they had a small breakfast nook, like a small “booth” at a restaurant.  I also remember lots of laughing.

In middle school, we prepared for what we figured “real life” would be like by reading books on how to become ninjas and shooting at each other with BB guns, defending his backyard from the Russians. Between Nikolai Volkoff, Rocky IV and Red Dawn, we were pretty sure the Russians were our biggest concern … till girls.

In high school, we played pool in his basement and Dungeons and Dragons on his screened-in porch. Role-playing games were a big part of our gang’s childhood. I think we all liked the idea of stepping out of our normal lives, where we were still just kids in an adult world.  Old enough to have a voice but not old enough for our vote to count. It wasn’t just escapism and excitement that we sought, I think we liked the idea of being heroes.   Saving imaginary farmers, that lived in imaginary cities from imaginary dragons with heroes that were reflections of ourselves we learned courage, honor and loyalty.  Even though the dragons were made out of paper, those morals stuck.  We were stubbornly idealistic, and Aaron in particular could get violently angry about injustice.

This is how I will always remember Aaron, a true friend, a young dreamer and a courageous hero.  This is how I will always have to remember Aaron, because I will never get to see my friend again, at least not on this earth. It turns out that Aaron and I didn’t only share many childhood memories, but we both were dealing with the same mental-health issues.  We never really talked about it to each other.  I regret that with all of my being.  My friend took his own life 13 years ago.

I found out when a detective from Arizona called me one morning asking if I knew where Aaron was.  Aaron had evidently tried to contact me through an old email address that I hadn’t used in years.  He tried to reach out for help and I didn’t hear him.  In my head I get that it wasn’t my fault, people change emails, but in my heart I felt like I had let my friend down in the biggest of ways.  Maybe I couldn’t have helped him, his family tried to help him for years, but then again…maybe I could have.  I still get headaches when I think about it.

I called the detective back every day to see if they had found Aaron or if there was any new information, if there was anyway I could help.  Then one day the detective told me that they had found Aaron and I wouldn’t be able to tell my friend goodbye.

My intentions for this article was to share what Aaron meant to me, and I think I have done that, but I had also planned on writing about how mental health can affect not only those that live with it, but everyone else who loves them as well. Then I contacted Angie, Aaron’s mother, just to make sure that it was ok with her that I share Aaron’s story, and the response I got from her was ….enlightening, on a level I couldn’t ever hope to achieve.  So I wrote her back to ask if I could use her letters in this blog, and she graciously agreed to share her story of Aaron’s struggles with depression.  The following is the unedited (except for one name change)  transcript of our conversation.



Ryan: Angie, I can’t express how much it means to me that you support this blog I’m trying to get going.  Aaron is a big reason why I feel the need to share my story, I miss my friend, and I am working on writing just what he meant to me, but I wanted to get your blessing first.  The last thing I want to do is share someone else’s pain who is not ready to re-live that moment.  And I didn’t want to just print the story without giving you … a warning, so that when you do read it, you know what you’re getting into.  I love you Angie, from the bottom of my heart.


Angie: Well Ryan. I don’t know what I can take. I know there is a lot I don’t know. I tried to get Aaron help and when he wouldn’t go, I did. I want you to share whatever you want. If I feel it’s too much, I will just stop reading. Then maybe come back and read more later. I feel that I have been visited by Aaron’s energy (Spirit) a few times in dreams. Very lucid dreams. It is comforting. I also feel like I receive clues or truths about the darkness he felt at times. I am at peace regarding his choice. I just miss him so much. Everyday, all day. I am able to function thanks to grief counseling, my wonderful husband, yoga and meditation. I started getting better last year. Took awhile I know. But all we have is time … Anyway, I actually feel myself coming out of the fog. I’m recognizing feelings of joy and happiness occasionally. I would say I’m actually feeling again. Forgot what that was like. Well, don’t want to rattle on too much. You really are an excellent writer. I like your gentle writing style, the easy way you speak about your emotions and thoughts. I always felt you were a very loving and gifted person. Thank you Ryan. I love you too and always will


Ryan: Thank you Angie.  I am not sure what all Aaron was dealing with either …   I want to share what he meant to me in life and how his choice cemented in me that I can’t go that route. I also think pointing out that mental illness doesn’t just affect those who have it, but everyone else who loves them is an important talking point. Writing this blog has been more freeing than I could have ever imagined,  I am very much into meditation as well as martial arts, but I’ve resisted counseling.  This may seem like a dumb question from a 40-year-old man, but how did you start?  I went to a psychologist a few years back for about 6 months, but I never really trusted him enough to tell him anything beyond the superficial.  The drugs they put me on made me feel like I was trapped inside my own body.  I would be smiling and laughing but on the inside it was like was thinking “Help! Please, don’t walk away, I’m stuck in here!”  I guess I’m just trying to get the courage to try again and could use some support.  I love you Angie.


Angie: Well, I don’t know what all was going on either. I knew he had difficulties early on. I was really proud that he walked at 9 months, learned to read at four. It was however puzzling that he didn’t talk till he was 2 1/2. Then he talked in complete sentences. His favorite books were the encyclopedias at 5.

He had social problems in school and it was very hard for him. Miss Namechange was terrible and embarrassed him and another child in front of the class trying to make them fight each other. In 5th grade, his teacher treated him terribly too. I don’t even remember his name. I took him to counseling; well, actually it was family counseling (family problem, right?). But the counselor said sometimes bright children have social problems. In 5th grade, 10 years old, he wanted to kill himself. I stayed by his bed side pleading, begging, wanting to help in any way. The night past, he went again to counseling, but he wasn’t honest. He learned how to play the game. When I say honest, I mean he said that it was just that moment. Nothing was wrong, and he really didn’t mean it. I think that was the beginning of being careful who you expose your thoughts to for Aaron. I don’t know what the counselor said but he never wanted to go back. He called them mind manipulators. I feel bad about that.

Flash forward. In Utah, he had another super down depression. It was terrible for him. I won’t bore you with details, but after I talked to him, we had to get him home. That’s when I began to think it was something. He wouldn’t go back to counseling, so I did. From what I described, the counselor thought he had classic bipolar disease. I told him (Aaron) that, and he said that was probably right but he wasn’t taking any drugs or participating in any counseling. So continuing counseling myself, for Aaron, I learned that you can treat bipolar disorder without drugs, but it takes a specially trained psychologist in bipolar disorder. Talk therapy is what she called it. Nope, not for him.

So what happened happened. I could have called the police. He had told me he might choose suicide by cops. I couldn’t chance that. Maybe I’m an idiot but I respected him too much. I know at 62 that all humans die eventually (unless they turn into Vampires. Just kidding). Aaron chose his time and place. I was/am devastated. I sunk deep into a black pit of nothingness. I lost all feeling of love. That was not something I had skills to overcome. Tears flowed from my eyes day and night. My heart hurt so bad in my chest. I couldn’t smile. I couldn’t answer the phone or go out in public. I didn’t want to get dressed or get a shower. I couldn’t stop the pain. I had to go to my diabetic doctor for a check up. He told me about a counselor in Parkersburg. He said she was not like most. She helped me crawl out of the pit little by little. I would claw up the sides of the pit, and then fall back down. Claw up again only to slip a few feet. Eventually I made it into the sunlight after repeating that for about 10 years. (Slow learner) No, everybody is different, I know, I know. It’s been 13 years now. Hmmmm…. you’re a sly dog, Ryan. Maybe you should be a counselor. Honey, you go to interview the counselor. After all, they are going to be working for you. You don’t like them? Don’t hire them. Keep looking until it feels right. If you don’t want medication, go to a psychologist, they can’t prescribe medication legally. Having someone to talk to that doesn’t judge you and helps you discover the right answer inside you, is so awesome! Like, yeah! Yeah! That’s how it’s supposed to be! When that happens, you know you are ready to go on your own. You got it! You made the connection, you have the tools you need. Sadness still happens (life still happens) shit goes wrong, but you can feel it and let it go. New day, new start, new opportunities, everyday. I love you too. You can always talk to me. My phone number is

By the way, I believe in slipping in and out of dimensions. I believe there are many dimensions all around us. I think it happens to people in extreme physical and emotional stress. Just my opinion.


Ryan: You are my hero.

Wow, right?

Thank you Angie Scott for sharing with us.  You are an unbelievably strong person.  Our souls are light, and with enough perseverance, we can out shine the darkest muck that life throws at us.  You inspire me to continue.  To keep my head up, grit my teeth and shine the fuck out of this world.

Here We are Again

     It’s been a tragic month for America. Starting in Vegas with 58 people murdered and 489 wounded. Days later a terrorist attack in New York killing 8 more people, injuring 11 others.  Not even a week later and a lone gunman murders 26 more (so far, 10 more are in critical condition, 4 others stable).  So, can we talk about this yet?

     Trump has blamed two of these shooting on mental health (and one on immigrants) but you will forgive me if I don’t trust him to lead the conversation about how or why these shooting have gone from rare events to yearly tragedies to monthly occurrences and now we are heading straight towards weekly mass killings.  It’s up to us to show the politicians how to lead by furthering this conversation ourselves. Hopefully they will follow in our example.

     So, is this a gun control issue or mental health?  Both?  Here are my thoughts.  The attacks themselves are mental health, obviously, guns don’t kill people without intervention from man and sane men do not kill random people.  However, the astounding number of folks that they are able to kill with these attacks is a gun control issue.  

     I think the evidence for mass shootings being mental health related is that if the shootings were “rational” in the shooters mind then they would be terrorists, there would be a “reason” for the killing. We haven’t seen a manifesto yet. No sane man decides to kill at random for no reason. It’s a “snap” effect built up after years of untreated mental weakness. I’m betting the snap takes place well before the actual shootings. This is why we do see the intricate planning but no meaning beyond personal pain. For months I imagine it’s just a fantasy they live in their heads, the typical “revenge fantasy” ala Death Wish (pretty much all of Charles Bronson’s career really). Then they seclude themselves and after a while they become dehumanized. With no attachments to people, people soon become the enemy. That self imposed solitary confinement is what blurs their reality enough for them to either not think of people as “real people” but characters in the story of their life…or they feel like the solitary confinement isn’t self imposed but instead that they are being ostracized. Then one day life is too painful. They decide that they want out and instead of just leaving they want to share just how much they hurt before they go.

     These people aren’t evil.  They are sick.  If you leave any disease untreated long enough it kills you.  But unlike cancer this disease convinces you to take your own life and apparently, sometimes, as many other lives as you can.  Sure, many diseases are contagious but this one can kill you even if you have never met patient zero.  He can be hundreds of yards away and his illness can touch hundreds others.  If that doesn’t creep you out,, then maybe you misread the last paragraph because a disease that not only kills but turns men into killers is horrifying. 

     Which brings us to the numbers.  I don’t think it’s an outrageous idea that the better guns get the more people you can kill.  I don’t even want to get into “gun control” at this point.  I’m just pointing out a fact that the better weapon you have the more damage you can do.  Can we agree to that?  

Suicidal Thoughts vs. Thinking about Suicide

First thing first.

Whether you are thinking about suicide or think you are having suicidal thoughts, TALK TO SOMEONE!!! Anyone! Father, Mother, Husband, Wife, Brother, Sister, Cousin, 2nd Cousin, Friend, Stranger, Boss, Employee, The guy at McDonald’s taking your order, LITERALLY ANYONE! (maybe not “The Cure” fans, but mostly anyone else)

Surround yourself in as many people as you can.  People care. If you ask them, they will give you a million reasons why not to take your own life.  Not only will they make it physically difficult for you to kill yourself by just being there but they drown out the self destructive thoughts with their chatter.  That second part sounds a bit harsh, I know, but hear me out.  If you are thinking about suicide on a conscious level, then talking about anything else, anything, keeps your mind occupied, if you are talking about suicide with some one else then most likely you are working out some stuff.  Thumbs up on both accounts.   If you are having “Suicidal thoughts”…. you will crave the chatter. Anything that quiets the voice in your head that tells you that you are not worth anyone’s time is a good thing.

Second thing second.  I am not a doctor, although I played Dr. Jekyll in the 5th grade (maybe not the best example of a doctor but perhaps the best example of my medical background). I have not formally studied psychology beyond high school and what I am saying may not be medically factual.  In fact if any of this is not medically accurate, please, I encourage you to educate me in the comments section.  These are only the truths I have learned through my own personal introspection.  These are the tools and techniques that I made up to help me out-smart my crazy. If any of this helps someone deal with their issues, awesome, but this is by no means a treatment.  I’m not sure how long this can work for me without getting professional help, let alone you the reader. So if at anytime you are not sure if anything I have to say means anything to you or not, refer to “First thing first”

So in my head there are two voices.  The main, thinking voice.  The one that….well thinks most of your thoughts before you say them.  This is akin to Freud’s ego, I’ve never liked that term so  I prefer to just think of it as  “The Real Me”.   The other voice, the second voice, is more of a sounding board most of time.  It says “Yeah, that is a good idea” when I have a good idea and “Hmmm….maybe we should call a real electrician/ plumber/ possum catcher” when I have a bad idea .  To which The Real Me says (in both situations) “I agree, high five!”  This is Freud’s id.  I call it “The Blackness”.

Let me explain. When I am in the middle of a bad depressive cycle that 2nd voice gets very loud and abusive.  Like a really drunk Ralph Kramden (for kids, Ralph was  a sitcom character whose catch phrases were all threats of physical violence towards his wife “Right in the kisser, Bang Zoom to the moon Alice!”).  “No one loves you!  There is no love here for you!  Pain is all you get because that is all you deserve.  No one likes hanging out with you, they just put up with you,  Can’t you see that!  Can’t you see any of that!”  These are the words of The Blackness.  As you can see it doesn’t pull many punches.  It finds what weaknesses you have and claws, hammers and picks it’s way into that weakness until it’s a hole then moves on to your next weakness, showing no mercy.

When the Blackness first started to speak up, it was hard to distinguish it from The Real Me voice.  This is the one of the most dangerous points in time for folks with depression, when you think these “outside”thoughts are reasonable, when you are not able to distinguish the black from the white.  I can not stress this enough, if you find yourself in this situation talk to someone.  Trying to tackle this by yourself is stupid.  I was stupid for trying it.  Yes, I survived, but many don’t.  It is the third leading cause of death for teens behind unintentional accidents and murder LINK  And in our military, suicide now kills more soldiers than war LINK  ….or if you think USA Today is “fake news” (cough bullshit cough fuck you Trump cough), let’s just agree it’s too fucking many LINK

Through meditation, both traditional and what I call “active meditation” (which boils down to personal introspection.  Removing myself from the emotion and examining my thoughts, actions and even emotions themselves  from a logical point of view) I decided the thoughts were not my own.  They were part of the illness/injury, the crazy, and I had to figure out a way to fend them off.

I started practicing meditative visualization.  The Real Me is like a white ball of silly putty, kinda like that glob guy from Herculoids. The crazy thoughts are like a black tar that would push outward from the base of my skull.

Every time the blackness yells at me (You’re lazy!) it  grows a little bit (You are a burden to every one around you!) squeezing “The Real Me’s”  white putty ball towards my forehead (You deserve the misery you live with!) till it’s about the size of a golf ball.  And every time the blackness grows (Your parents are disappointed in you!) it yells louder (Your friends and family not only don’t respect you, they don’t even like you!) and louder (Love is for good people and YOU ARE NOT GOOD, YOU ARE AN ABOMINATION!) and it becomes more vicious the larger it gets (JUST GET IT OVER WITH ALL READY!  THIS IS AS HAPPY AS YOU WILL EVER BE, SO WHY NOT JUST EXIT NOW!).

     I studied Martial Arts when I was younger, getting my black belt at 16, so when cornered my first instinct is to fight back, and that’s what I do.  I mentally take a fighting stance. Now the white blob has a mental Warrior Ryan on the inside of it. He yells to intimidate his enemy (FUCK YOU! YOU DON’T GET TO TELL ME WHAT TO THINK ASSHOLE!), it works!  The blackness shrinks back for a moment and then I strike with a front kick (or side kick, just depends on how the blackness flinches).

      When I strike, I key-up (key-up is what the laymen thinks of as the karate “Hi ya!”) , both mentally and physically with all the force I have, my muscles all tighten at once and I grunt.  In Martial Arts the purpose of the key-up is two-fold. One, to quickly empty your lungs of any air in case of a counter attack to the solar-plexus.  Getting hit in the solar plexus while you have air in your lungs is what leads to “getting the wind knocked out of you”, which,  as you can imagine, is not good in a fight. This is most likely the origin of the “Hi-ya” fallacy, because when you exhale all at once it kinda sounds like “Hite” with a soft to non existent “T” and often times is mistaken for a grunt.   The second reason for the key-up is to focus your energy, both the inner mental/emotional/spiritual (whatever it is you call it) and your physical energy by tightening all of your muscles for just and instant as you deliver the strike.  Why am I spending so much time explaining the “key-up”?  Because the key-up is the key to the mental strike.  It’s the key-up that breaks through the inky blackness causing it to shrink back.**  

     Just like it, I am merciless.  As soon as I see it’s afraid of me I push forward with a quick combination ending in another key-up. (GOD DAMN MOTHER FUCKING BITCH, I’M GOING TO KICK YOUR ASS!…..from this point on most of the “internal verbal conversation” is just a bunch more posturing potty mouth nonsense, so I’ll let you imagine from here on out).  Once the white is about equal with the black, the fight turns into working on a heavy bag.  I beat and pummel the blackness with punch after punch till my knuckles are bloody (mental knuckles).  Each punch beats the blackness smaller and smaller, causing it to retreat back to the base of my skull.  If you’ve ever worked on a heavy bag, you know how tiring it is ,– same thing mentally.  At this point mental fortitude is the key factor in winning the fight.  Just keep punching and punching and punching.  When the black is small enough I strangle it and stuff it back into its box.  Not a literal box, that would be crazy; it’s more like a large mole at the base of my skull (a perfectly sane idea, right?).  

     So that’s how I learned to fight back my definition of  “suicidal thought,” but I have also “Thought about suicide.”.  In fact, my suicide note that I wrote in high school started out as a conscience thinking about suicide. Thinking about how sorry my girlfriend would feel for hurting me, and how maybe the world would see this tragic story of love and learn to care about one another and other such romantic nonsense.  Anytime you find yourself thinking about suicide as a sort of “revenge”, that’s “thinking about suicide”.   Thinking about suicide is just as dangerous but it can be beat with logic.  

      Luckily (?) I had this experience before the real “suicidal thoughts” came.  That’s why I was able to rationally decide after seeing the effect it had on my father that  it was something I could never do.  That no matter how heavy the weight is I am going to bear it for my friends and family.  “Never give up” has become my motto.  But seriously, talk to someone.


**Here’s a link to a short video of one of my heroes, Bruce Lee, explaining both the “make your mind like water” philosophy but also demonstrating the power of the key-up with the power of his one-inch and six-inch punches…..and you might want to stick around for the “nunchaku ping-pong” because it demonstrates his mental acuity and it kicks ass: LINK    




*Here’s my problem with Freud.  He had good ideas but was very shitting at naming things.  In case you don’t remember Freud neither did i so I wikipidiaed it and here’s my basic understanding.  The Ego which is the conscience mind.  The Id is the devil on your shoulder and primal instincts.  The Super Ego is the angel on your shoulder, the part that suggests you not steal candy from babies and then makes you feel bad if you do.  Why the fuck didn’t he just call the “devil” Ego, the “Angel” the Super Ego and the “you” the Id, like I.D. It just makes more fucking sense! And quite frankly I don’t believe that the Super Ego on the Ego are two separate things.  Fuck you Freud!  if anyone can help me make sense of this please do.  However, in his defense,

“Cocaine….it’s a hell of a drug!”                                                                                                                                                            ~D. Chappelle



Suicidal Thoughts vs Thinking about suicide pre-blog question

Before we go on, I have a serious question.

How many voices are in your head?   

I would appreciate it if everyone would ponder on that for a sec and post their answer below.  I say it’s a serious question because in my next blog, “Suicidal Thoughts vs Thinking About Suicide”, I’m basing everything off of how I think. And it’s been my experience that most folks believe that everyone thinks like they do, except crazy people…and Republicans (or Democrats, which ever makes you laugh and not hate me).  I also realize that I am human myself and prone to the same mistake and what I consider “rational thought”, may in fact be “signs of schizophrenia”.  And….I think it might be interesting to see what the answers are.*

*I fully expect a few friends to leave joke answers, you know who you are, I probably couldn’t resist myself, so by all means if you’ve got a good joke answer please leave it and then maybe leave your real answer at the end.  Thanks.

Thank you for Hearing Me

Thank you to every one who read my last few blogs on my battle with mental illness, and double thank you to those of you who shared the link to this blog on your own page.  I feel like the more folks that hear my story the better chance I have of reaching at least one person who can really identify with and benefit from my experiences.

I can’t seem to find the words to properly describe just how freeing it has been to finally share all of this….madness.  The overwhelmingly heartfelt responses that i got, from the comments section, to personal messages, to real personal interactions has led to a tremendous break through that I had never imagined possible. And I feel I have all of you to thank for that.

I truly haven’t felt like “me” in decades…until a week ago.  Believe me when I tell you that I have tried to self medicate myself with my fare share of drugs, both prescribed and …not so prescribed (I’ve taken month’s off of work to follow jam bands around the country if that gives you any clue….thumbs up Tidwell, vegi-burritos and two beers for five bucks) but none of them have ever come close taking this mental/emotional weight off my shoulders like sharing did.

I feel like I’m a Re-born Agnostic.  My future looks open and free again.  I don’t feel like i have to voluntarily put myself into “solitary confinement” anymore. It’s like I’m Peter Pan again and world is my Neverland (The Lost Boys tree house Neverland not to be confused with the pedophile playground built buy the King of Pop).

The struggle isn’t over, not by a long shot.  I still have a lot more to deal with and a lot more to tell but because writing about my depression takes an emotional toll, I can’t make this whole blog about that.  I am a man, I am more complex then any one issue.  My goal is to put out content on at least a weekly basis and the main focus will remain on mental health issues and what we as a country can do to help but I may dabble in politics, art and other societal issues from time to time, for my own sanity (no pun intended).

And just to kick a dead horse, once again, thank you all from the bottom of my heart for supporting me in this project.

October 18th, National Hug a Republican Day

Hey everybody,  I decided that I’m going to make up a holiday, well two actually, because …..why not! From hence forth October the 18th will be know as “National Hug a Republican Day“.   They need to be reminded that you care about them as much as you do spotted owls.  Now Democrats, be real here, don’t be a smug ass. Find a Republican you have had some heated discussions with, but are still friends (or family) and think of something you can agree upon beforehand (NASA, the Opioid epidemic, how much cancer sucks, you get the idea), give them a hug, then tell them that even though you don’t always agree on every little silly detail about how to best run our country you know that he/she is fighting for what they believe is in Americas best interest, just like you and it kicks ass that we live in a country where we can do that.  Then discuss that issue agree about for a bit, and leave with a smile.

Don’t worry Republicans i’m not leaving you out! Tomorrow, October 19th, is “National High Five a Democrat Day”!  It’s a lot like Hug a Republican Day but less mushy…..maybe talk about cars or something.  I’ll brainstorm tonight.