Time again for my contribution to Shelly of This Eclectic Life's "Only The Good" Friday post. For some reason or other, I can't open her blog today -at least not right now -to be able to link this back to her. If I am able to do that later, I'll come back and put the linkage in here for you.
The object of this project is to get each of us to think about all the good things in our lives, or to take the not-so-good stuff and try to find a way in which it can be perceived has having some good, some benefit to all of us.
Because of something that happened here, in this little community this past week and the impact this type of happening had on me, has had on me on several other occasions, I am really having a lot of difficulty trying to find something, anything, good about this.
A young man -age 22 -died this past Tuesday. I knew him -sort of. He was an acquaintance of my son-in-law, often helping Bill now and then at the garage. I grumped and griped a good bit over the past so many months about this young man because he had a habit of calling here, either about five minutes after we figured Bill probably had left the garage, or his timing was such that he almost always called just as we were sitting down to supper. Annoying, yes -it was. But it also became a bit of a joke when the phone would ring and Mandy and I would guess if it was this young man calling for Bill.
Sadly, from what Bill -and Mandy -have said about him, he also had another habit too. A very bad one. Unfortunately, he got caught up in the seamy side of life -pot, pills, other drugs and such. Recently, he had been caught after stealing from his grandmother and his father. Apparently he took his grandmother's checkbook and wrote out checks from her account and he took his Dad's credit card(s) and used it -buying items, then having friends return them for cash which he then used to keep himself in whatever drugs he felt he had to have on a given day.
Suicide. How does one reconcile that with something good, anyway?
I've known several individuals now who have taken that route to end their own life. I don't know this young man's family -how close they were. I'm not making any excuses for his actions, prior to this, against his family as the thefts were wrong, just totally wrong, and no, there is no excusing that type of behavior.
Addiction though -unfortunately, that's something that many people believe only involves alcohol abuse or hard-core drugs -heroin, cocaine and substances along those lines. But addiction is a strange thing and often an issue many of us have but don't think of it for what it really is -something that comes in and takes control of some aspect of one's body, one's life.
All too often it seems people become addicted to things that they think are good for them -like prescription drugs, for one example. I honestly do believe for some people their doctors should be taken to task on this problem because frequently the doctor prescribes something for a specific problem the patient has and then, especially with various pain medications, they don't follow through and watch the way the patient is returning, requesting more of said meds to be given again and again. All too often, the patient involved doesn't see this "need" that is there as being wrong, or an addiction. After all, the ingestion of these meds were prescribed by the doctor and therefore, there is no problem with taking them. Even if the person is only taking one such pill per day -not doubling up on the usage or anything like that -once one becomes reliant on some type of medication along those lines to feel good, there is a problem there.
In trying to think through the main issue here -the fact this young man took his own life (not through a drug overdose though -rather it was a self-inflicted gun shot) brings to my mind all the others I have known who have followed the same path. Some were very good, close friends. Some just acquaintances. One was a woman who used to live up the street from us. Our next-door neighbor's son, who I grew up with. Others were people I met and got to know through my work. And one of this number was also my cousin, David.
The first individual of this group above to commit suicide was my neighbor's son, Bob. Three years younger than me, he was like a little brother to me, as I spent a lot of my childhood in that family's home -playing with him and his sister, who is the same age as me. His death was such a shock to the entire community as he was very well-known, very well-liked; a strong member of our church family where he and his wife served as advisors to the Youth Group. He was not a "drinker" and definitely not a "druggie" either. He was however, as it was later learned, having issues with depression -an illness that all too frequently is disregarded by the individual coping with it and at times too, not considered to be of any consequence by family or friends either. Lack of understanding about how severely depression can come on and affect people of all walks of life, with no regard for race, sex, ethnicity, economics, has always and still is a problem for many who deal with some form of depression.
All too often, it is hidden -tucked away perhaps among the family secrets for fear others will find out and think bad thoughts then about the person, or the entire family, etc. To do that is wrong -just as wrong as is taking the wrong path and becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, just as wrong as participating in criminal activity.
It is something that the more we -all of us -can and do learn about mental health problems, especially depression because it can be subtle with only small hints that there is a problem more than many other mental health issues may be, the better off society as a whole would function with more knowledge and understanding of these issues and of the people who cope daily with the various types of mental illnesses.
Sometimes, depression is also a genetic thing -passed on from one generation to the next and on and on down the line. Awareness, within the family, of this potential or inclination towards depression is important for everyone to have. Understanding that sometimes we all may feel blue or depressed from time to time, but knowing if the "blues" come with increasing frequency, stick around longer and longer too, if not dealt with or treated properly, can and often will make life extremely painful for the individual who is depressed.
So I guess -and that's all I am really doing here right now -guessing -that perhaps, with proper treatment, by whatever means are necessary, perhaps the lives of at least some, if not all, those I've known who took their own lives could possibly have been averted.
Perhaps, it might even have kept some of them -those who had opted to work through issues of depression by becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs -from advancing to that stage too. It is a fallacy to think that by getting drunk or high, one can "cure" the attack of the "blues" or being depressed, because those substances themselves are depressants to begin with!
I'm thinking too that if anything good can ever be said to come from suicide, perhaps it is the need for knowledge and understanding of what constitutes good mental health and how to get help for one's self or others in need of treatment.
If nothing else, when someone does reach the stage where they feel, they believe, the only respite is death, it does show us, those left in the wake, how short our time on this planet is and the need to then to try to find ways, whenever, wherever, possible to show those closest to us how much we love and care for them, how much it means to have them as part of our lives. And don't relegate this just to family and close friends, but to everyone we come in contact with as well.
That perhaps is the "good" that can, should -actually must -be taken from a loss like this.