Mental Health Issues

Funeral

My mind has been going crazy ever since I learned that my brother committed suicide recently, and I don’t know if this post will make any sense, but I feel I have to get my feelings out somehow. Hopefully this might help someone struggling with mental health issues.

My youngest brother was very smart, but like many smart people, he also had his issues, especially social issues. He didn’t have many close friends, and wouldn’t express his feelings, especially as he grew older. He wanted everything organized and was really quite hard on himself, holding himself to an impossible standard. Although never diagnosed, I’m sure he suffered from one or more mental health issues, including possibly depression, OCD, and who knows what else. Most of the time, he seemed fine, but wanted control and balked at anyone changing his schedule.

From what we could tell, things seemed fine. He was studying in college and did well in his classes. My other two brothers attended the same college. We are a religious family, but in college my brother found some websites that railed against our faith, which caused a bunch of doubts to come up in his mind. As far as I know, he still continued living the standards, but lost his faith. These websites gave him nothing to replace it with, so he had nothing to center his life around. We were all concerned about him and tried to help him regain his faith without shoving anything down his throat, but he just couldn’t resolve those doubts.

Later, he transferred schools, getting away from my brothers and starting anew in a city two hours away from the rest of the family. He was basically alone and wasn’t good at making friends. For a semester he seemed fine. He would send us weekly emails, seemed positive, got involved in clubs. But I don’t think it was enough.

I visited him about a month before he took his life. He seemed fine, normal, and liked the way my baby waved at him and played with him. He kept sending emails until the week before he died. They all seemed positive, he had plans for the future. I’m sure underneath it, he felt depressed, but something must have happened during that week to make things much worse. He never sent us anything, but the police found a note on his computer saying that he felt he had nothing to live for. Since he had his own room, he overdosed on sleeping pills and no one found his body for over a week. By then my parents were getting anxious, but no one expected that he had taken his life.

We are all devastated. My baby brother is gone from this life, and I don’t fully understand why. Why did he do this? What set it off? Why didn’t he reach out to us? And I could drown in the what-ifs, but that wouldn’t help anything.

It’s been a hard time, and the only thing that keeps us together is our religion. It’s pretty popular to attack religion these days, but I believe lack of religion is a major factor in my brother’s death. It gives us purpose, and without that, what’s the point? So next time you go out attacking someone’s faith, think about the consequences. How many people are you killing? What’s wrong with letting people believe what they want? Many people claim that the pressure of religion is what drives people to suicide, but in this case, the opposite was true. Sure, some people take their religions to the extreme and exclude others, but for the most part, religious people are more open, empathetic, and caring.

I’m sure people will attack me for this stance, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that we shouldn’t be attacking each other at all. That kid who’s silent, he needs a friend. My brother needed a friend. I’ve needed friends. Don’t think of him as aloof or arrogant. Don’t demonize him. Care for him, because all your other popular friends can have all the friends they want, while the people who need one the most don’t have anyone. And we shouldn’t have a stigma against people with mental health problems. They need a doctor, too. My biggest regret is not getting my brother to a specialist. I don’t know if he would ever have actually gone, and it might have been in vain, but I wish I had tried.

I miss him so much, but I believe I will see him again. His body died, but his spirit lives. And it’s no longer afflicted with the mental health issues that affect physical bodies. No more chemical imbalances.

If you have thoughts of suicide, don’t hesitate to reach out. Life gets better, there are people who care for you, and any damage you think you are doing them right now will be much worse if you actually take your life. It’s not a mercy to them, it’s a terrible blow. There are ways to get past this. Medications that fix your imbalance, professionals who will hear your fears, worries, and problems. You are not worthless, you have infinite value, no matter what you’ve done or failed to do.

At the very least, contact these people: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Crucifixion

Crucifixion

John Remalto knocked on the door. Knock knock. They had told him this would be a story that only he could do, that they only trusted him with, no one else. He had no idea what was so special, but then, as an award winning journalist, it was his job to find out.

After two minutes, the door opened slightly. A chain kept it from opening more. “May I ask who you are?”

“I’m John Remalto, we have an appointment.” John wondered if he had the right address. He looked down at the touchpad in his hand. Before he could double-check, though, the door closed. Why is everyone so rude? John thought, about to turn around.

“Sorry about that, I had to make sure you weren’t some crazy out to get me,” came the voice again as the door opened, this time all the way. Great, this guy’s paranoid. But he was a professional, and didn’t say anything, just smiled. “Come in.”

The apartment had papers strewn all about, so that John had to look closely to see if there was a carpet, or if that was the papers’ function. It was not like most people used much paper these days. John had his touchpad out, ready to take notes, record his conversation, and set to block any calls from his wife. This had better be worth his time. He noticed the window to his right was open. John had lived in this city when he was a child, so he glanced out from where he stood and tried to recognize anything from his youth. The buildings were familiar, but there was a mental ward below that he did not recognize. He tried to remember what had been there before. A dove flew past the window.

“Have a seat,” came the voice again, this time with a body. John surveyed his newest story. Glasses, graying hair, white suit coat (even in his own house?), bad posture, and piercing blue eyes. He was holding a little necklace in his hands, fiddling with it. John sat down on the couch facing the window, surprised it wasn’t covered in papers as well. The middle aged man sat down in front of him on a stool, backlit by the gray sunlight streaming in. The paper crumpled as he walked over it.

“So you are the famed Dr. Mark Nitlin, renowned scientist and theorist. ” John stated. The man nodded. “Nice place you have here.” Dr Nitlin looked around, embarrassed, as if suddenly aware of the state of his apartment. John waved a hand. “Don’t worry, I’m not here to judge, I just want your story. They tell me you’ve discovered something that could change our lives forever.”

Dr. Nitlin straightened up when John started mentioning the discovery, and his whole appearance changed. No longer was he the timid and awkward man from before, but one full of pride and self importance. Much better that way for John, because now it would be all the easier to coax any information from him. “‘I have only shared it with other trusted scientists, but now that I am ready to publish my findings, I also want an article published, so the public at large could understand its significance, without having to know all the scientific details.”

“Makes sense to me.”

“Alas,” (Who says that nowadays? John asked himself) “I believe some rumors have already leaked out, though, and my discovery has already made me enemies, which is why I was hesitant to open the door for you.”

“Enemies, huh? Must be pretty important. And if it is, I assure you, we will be best friends.” Controversies always sold more. It looks like he had come to the right place.

“My discovery is not so important by itself, I will admit, no more than any other number of discoveries that have come before it. I am not even sure there are any practical uses for it.” What? If there was no practical use, then what use was there? John became worried. “What exactly does your discovery entail, Doctor?”

Instead of answering directly, the scientist stood up and went to the window, looking out on the artificial environment below. Where there had once been trees, now public projector screens played endless advertisements. “In the past decades, especially in the early 2000’s, there have been several major scientific discoveries. With each one, humanity was able to let go of false traditions and turn an eye to the future, towards independence. My breakthrough has scientific importance, but more importantly, it had social and culture relevance.”

What is he getting at? thought John. If there was no real story here, then he had wasted his time. He knew he should have used the teleconference option, instead of coming to meet the guy in person. The man beckoned him to the window, and reluctantly John got up, leaving the soft sofa. Paper crumpled beneath his feet. At the window, Dr. Nitlin rubbed his necklace, which had the number six on the end, and pointed to the mental ward John had noticed earlier.

“Do you know what that building was before?” Nitlin asked him.

Thinking hard, he came up with an answer, to the surprise of them both. “It was a church.” He remembered his mother taking him there once, although he had been bored the whole time. Dr Nitlin scowled.

“Once, it was used to psychologically treat people’s depression, with little success. Now it medically treats it, with much greater success. With our new knowledge and tools, we are evolving as a society. Just like with the Greek Gods, the notions of the past are systematically being replaced as science gives us new understanding of the human condition, our place in the universe, and where we came from. In fact, that is precisely what I discovered.”

Now we are getting somewhere, thought John, wanting to get away from the subject of religion. Any mention of that made him queasy. His purpose in life was to make a lot of money, and he was doing well with that, so trying to make him feel bad for anything else he had done did not sit well with him. Although, sometimes he wondered where this world and humanity came from. If the doctor would get on and actually tell him, his visit might serve two purposes, one he had not even foreseen.

“What I have done is to complete what so many other scientists, conscious of it or not, have tried to achieve. I represent the culmination of their efforts. The evidence is undeniable; my colleagues agree with me. This is why I have enemies, because there are always people who oppose humanity’s progress. Soon, the voice of reason will make the blind fools give up, and this part of humanity’s history will come to an end.”

I doubt any discovery you made could be so important as to mark an era in history. This guy’s full of himself. “All right, Dr. Nitlin, you’ve got my attention. What is so important about your discovery? Give me a title for the article that is worthy of your achievement.”

“Science has always warred against ignorance and superstition. Well, now, I have dealt the deathblow. Science has come out triumphant. What I have proven means there is no longer a need for the struggling churches. John Remalto, you want a title? Well, here it is.” John looked at the scientist; he seemed almost in his own world now, the eyes not focusing on anything. His fist clenched the necklace. Chills went down John’s spine as the doctor spoke.

“I killed God.”