The emperor’s new clothes

My recent series of posts has prompted a wide range of responses.  Many seek to comfort me.  Some congratulate me.  Some lecture me.  Family members have shunned me.  I understand all the reactions.  There isn’t a simple, single response.

I am mining core level, existential issues, and they spark different responses in everyone.  While my posts are therapeautic for me, I understand that they are distressing for others.  We, as a society, don’t want to muck around in the viscera.  We will cheer on the soldiers abroad, but we will ignore their plights when they return.  We’ll donate money when presented with images of starving children or abused animals.  We want the images to go away.

Recently, a friend of mine whom I highly respect posted, “I don’t know what to say.”  That is the most honest response.  I don’t know what you should say.  I don’t expect any particular response.  Let’s have a conversation.  “Hi, I’m Darren, and I tried to kill myself.  Yeah, Iknow that kind of freaks you out.  It does me too.  Let’s talk about it.”  Because, let’s be honest, not talking about it is not helping anyone.  I have been shocked by the number of people who have shared with me that they also tried to off themselves, and they have carried that painful, dark secret.

We live in an instant gratification, instant information society.  In this high speed, social media world, institutions and individuals desperately strive to continue controlling the spin.  People are punished for their tweets and posts and photos.  Some of that is justified.  Much of it is just pretending the emperor has no clothes.  In my case, whom does it help to pretend I didn’t try to kill myself?  Does it change any life or business outcome by making that information public?  I deal with clients worth multi millions of dollars.  They care about how much money I can make for them; not for my mental wellness.

Conversely, I know from people who have contacted me that I’ve made a positive difference.  In my small way, I lifted the shroud of disgust off mental illness.  People have issues and struggles.  Why try to ignore them in the name of spin or P/R?  I am one of the highest revenue generators for the company I work for this year, and I did it while struggling with mental illness. 

In another conversation, the BSW opined that there was a lack of comments to my last post because it made people uncomfortable.  I say good.  We’re back to the emperor’s clothes.  Right now, people are locked up in horrific conditions.  Right now, the mentally ill are on the streets cold and hungry.  Right now, congress is debating funding for the military in the trillions; more than the next twenty countries combinded.  An infintesimal fraction of that spending would do wonders for our own members of society who struggle with mental illness.

Pretend all you want.  We exist.  Try talking to us.

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12 Responses to The emperor’s new clothes

  1. Kim says:

    Darren,
    Your BSW is somewhat correct. Your writing doesn’t make me uncomfortable;it makes me at a loss for words as I know there is nothing I can say to heal or help. You must have read my thoughts though because I was going to email and ask you to blog about what we can do for you ,in particular, and as a society in general to help those with mental illness. You unknowingly answered in tonight’s blog by saying, “talk to us.”
    So we talk.
    I for one am glad that you haven’t seemed to get this killing yourself perfected yet- I would miss you and I don’t want to say that “I knew him” when your book gets published. I want to say “I know him.”

    • D.R. Leo says:

      Thanks, Kim. While they seem completely personal, these blogs are intended to open conversations. From the stats I’ve read, just about all of us know or are related to the mentally ill. They all deserve conversations. They all deserve more than being pushed out of sight because they can’t speak for themselves. See you at graduation, my friend.

  2. & the late show says:

    Could not have said it better Kim… Agree on all points…

  3. Could not have said it better Kim… Agree on all counts…

  4. From your perspective, is there anything that others can say or do that would encourage someone to get help or prevent them from trying to take their own life? Selfishly, we want to help, know what to look for and find out what resources are effective.

  5. Your openness doesn’t make me uncomfortable at all. Speak on, brother. I think it is more therapeutic for you to get your words out than it is for anyone to try to give you advice. I can say been there, done that, tried that one, watched someone do this one-whatever, but no-on has the same situation or the same degree of illness you do. You need someone who cares, well, you know I’m always here. You need listeners, and I’m all ears. 🙂

  6. Dionne says:

    Great post. Good on you for speaking up. I can’t see how it can do anything but help. The more that people talk about issues, the less fear there will be in dealing with those issues, for everyone. Funny how when you say “I have a mental illness” it suddenly becomes the major thing that some people will define you by, when really, it is a health issue you have had to face. Imagine if shame was attached to cancer, appendicitis or any other disease people can die from. These illnesses are cured because people care about them because they are talked about—people are aware. Keep speaking your mind and sharing your experiences because people care and some people need to know they’re not alone.

  7. jen says:

    Keep on writing and speaking out for those who cannot!

  8. Christine says:

    As you are a writer, I think it only natural you would write… about anything…everything. And I love you, fuckwit. xo

  9. Beth says:

    Darren, thanks for continuing to share your experiences and for seeking to help others with mental illness. I think we should have a therapy group at res;-) Wait, that is our therapy already. xo

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