Author: miahsudd52

Suicide is Contagious

“My brother ruined my life.” He stated it outright multiple times.

If you were 19 years old and your older brother, who was essentially your idol, shot himself in the head in front of you on Thanksgiving, I’m sure your brother would have ruined your life too. This is what happened to my brother-in-law/roommate Zach. Losing the person you look up to is hard enough in itself. Losing the person you look up to to suicide is even harder. Losing the person you look up to to suicide in front of you on Thanksgiving? Now that’s just beyond words.

Zach came into my life in December of 2012. He and my older sister immersed themselves in a very extreme relationship from day one; they were soon living together, probably by about day 20. Day 30 or so, they were engaged. This is how Zach lived his life, to the extreme. I spent quite a few nights at their apartment, acquainting myself with Jack Daniels and  stories of Zach’s childhood, both of which entertained me greatly; the more I had of one, the more I wanted of the other. Zach was a very bright guy with a dry sense of humor, and we got along great. He was massive in a lot of different respects: he was 6’4″, he was ripped, he was extremely poetic, his intelligence was deep, and his wit was wide. When we really became close enough to open up with one another, our conversations went down some very dark roads. He told me stories about his brother, David,  what it was like growing up with him, how funny he was, how much he missed him, and the day he killed himself. Being exposed to something like this is not something you can ever get away from, it’s not a memory that can be easily evaded or repressed, it plagues your brain, and it’s safe to say that Zach’s mind was infested.

Once I graduated high school, my sister, Zach, and myself all decided that it would be a great idea to move in together. The date was set and we would be moving in in August. Zach and I spent quite a bit of the summer together. In June we all went camping, my sister, myself, Zach, and my girlfriend at the time. This was one of the best times I have ever had with any of my friends. During that trip Zach told me some of the nicest things that anyone has ever told me, granted we were both drunk, but the things he was offering were genuine. If I could go back to that summer forever, I would.

August rolled around and, sure enough, we all moved in. Things were great at first, but by about September there was some strife among roommates. The standard of living that I like to maintain was different from that of my counterparts on the other side of the house, and I voiced my frustrations often. Zach was always one to criticize, but taking criticism was not necessarily his strong suit. So, as you can imagine, he did not take too kindly to my offering of issues. October went on and things began to improve. Zach was trying to do more to keep the house clean since my sister worked six days a week, and on her only day off she took care of his two beautiful children, so he was putting forth an effort and doing much better.

Things went back to shit thanks to alcohol and some messed up emotions late one night during mid November. I had quite a few friends over, and Zach had been drinking as well as all of us, but Zach was drinking much more than anybody else, by a lot. He got obliterated and embarrassed me, himself, and my sister, so she told him to call his friend and go stay with him for the night. Being the extremist that he was, Zach took this as my sister breaking up with him, and all hell broke loose. I heard crashing on their end of the house so I went to their room to make sure my sister was okay. Their dresser was tipped over and Zach was flipping out. Threats of suicide were running rampant, as well as drunken insults.  I mentioned earlier that Zach has said the nicest things that anyone has ever said to me, but he has also said the meanest. Again, this goes back to the extremes within his personality. I took everything he was saying on the chin, and did everything I could to essentially talk him down (he was threatening to go drive, after drinking practically a bottle of liquor on his own), but things escalated and he wound up choking me out, grabbing his keys, and driving off into the night. He was back the next day, alive and intact, somehow. The trauma of a past Thanksgiving was still alive within him,  and it didn’t take a giant mental leap to connect the behavior with the calendar and the past.

The episodes that night caused Zach to get sober, and begin counseling. He was doing great. He was doing better with his kids, around the house, and at work. Everything was going great, for the most part, all through Christmas. My sister said without alcohol he was amazing, with the exception of growing more jealous and controlling. In mid January my sister broke up with Zach saying they needed some time for him to find some stability and essentially get his shit together. Zach being Zach, overfatalistic and extreme, made the absolute worst decision I’ve ever seen anybody make in my life. He got a 12 pack, four shots of whiskey, a 9mm Glock, a dark lonely hotel room, and a swat situation before shooting himself in the forehead while on the phone with my sister at 11:30 PM on January 21st, 2014.

Zach left behind two precious boys, a three year old Max, and a two year old William. They are spitting images of their father. Zach was an extremely intelligent man who had a lot of promise. He could’ve been something great, and I believe that with time, he would have. Seeing his brother kill himself at 19 was too much for him to shake. He had often talked about it with me, depicting it in a way as if it were a fantasy. If Zach’s brother hadn’t killed himself, he’d be on the other end of my house right now and I wouldn’t be writing this. For that reason, I believe that suicide is a disease, and it is ferociously contagious. Zach caught what David had.

I wrote this in the aftermath:

When Giants Fall

Nobody else could make me feel so small,

it had next to nothing to do with you being so tall,

nothing to do with you choking me against that wall,

but rather the magnitude of when giants fall,

if I could go back I would give you a call,

in my mind I know I could’ve caused you to stall,

I would conjure the words to help cushion your fall,

I think I could’ve helped but I know after all,

if a person is like me-truly this small,

you can’t catch a giant when they’re ready to fall.

I love and miss you brother. I know you’re with David.  Can’t wait to see you again. RIP Zach.

Why do “We love The Things That Hate Us”?

“We love the things that hate us, push snooze again girl I don’t wanna wake up, America the beautiful- that’s how she played us, wasn’t that cute-must have been her make up” (Slug, Atmosphere).

Cigarettes, alcohol, weed, opiates, pills, coffee, soda, fast food, gambling, cheating….think of how many of us indulge in at least one of the above on a day to day basis. I know that personally I can touch on four of the ten very easily on any given day. I drink a lot of coffee, smoke a lot of hookah, I’m a fan of red bull (sugar free of course), and sometimes I find myself having more than my fair share of alcohol. I’m a smart guy, I know better, but yet I still do it, and I’m not the only one. Is it cultural? Is it just us as Americans? Or is it something shared by the human race as a whole? Why do “we love the things that hate us”?

Anxiety, more specifically existential anxiety (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existentialism), we feel it. Monotony, we want to break it. People have, and always will want more. We exist and we want more out of our existence. For that reason we indulge. We aren’t content with our minds as they are. We want to manipulate them, we want to escape reality. But, again, why? Our minds are powerful, but it isn’t enough. Day to day life weighs on everyone, I don’t care who you are, or where you’re from, nobody has it made. And for that reason, we all have our vices.  Obviously people get addicted to tobacco, and there are chemical changes in the body that make us crave them, but knowing this, why do we pick up a cigarette in the first place? Cigarette smokers, anything tobacco related, there isn’t a person on this planet who doesn’t know that tobacco causes cancer, yet there are 852 million (http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/cancer-news/news-report/852-million-people-use-tobacco-products-worldwide) of the seven billion on the planet out there who use tobacco anyway.

I absolutely loathe the feeling of waking up after a night of drinking. I hate that I more than willingly alter my state of mind, knowing full well the repercussions, yet I proceed anyway. Every time I drink, I am left in a haze for the days to come. My mind doesn’t process things on the level that it should, and I can’t function at the level that I like to maintain. In spite of this, I will find a pull out one way or another and happily drink the night away. If my mind is my most powerful and valuable asset, why do I alter it negatively? I know better, but I don’t care.

From a bit of a religious perspective, the seven deadly sins are lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, wrath, and pride. We are all sexual beings, we love to eat junk food, we are all ruled by the almighty dollar, we enjoy relaxation and being lazy, jealousy exists in all of us, we all indulge in our own feelings of anger, and we are all prideful beings. So according to the Catholic Church, we are all pretty screwed. Looking at it in these terms, we all sin, when we know very well that we should not.

Quite frankly, nobody knows why we do these things that we know are so bad for us. We know we shouldn’t lie, but people lie. We know we shouldn’t get jealous, but we do. We know we shouldn’t eat doughnuts for breakfast, but they’re so damn good. This question isn’t one that can be easily answered, and that’s why it hasn’t been answered yet. All I know is that I am me, and I need something more. I need something more than myself, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. The best conclusion I’ve been able to come to is that we are all incomplete, and we long to feel whole one way or another during our existence.

The Voices Are Quiet Now

Thus far in life, I am yet to encounter anything more complex, twisted, and beautiful than that of the schizophrenic mind.  Fifteen of my eighteen years were spent living with my grandmother who lived with us.  My mother became her legal guardian before I was even born, so I grew up sharing a residence with my grandmother who spent her life in constant communication with judges, professional athletes, British royalty, famous actors, and musicians all due to her crippling schizophrenia.

Born in Adrienne, West Virginia in May of 1941, JoAnn Morrison came into this world and lived a relatively normal life until her early twenties.  As a teenager she was loved by all her peers and teachers because she was so cordial and beautiful.  Living in the small Cumberland Gap town of Middlesboro, Kentucky at the age of 17, my grandmother won a statewide beauty pageant and the title Black Diamond Coal Queen.  A few short years after graduating, she was married to her high school sweetheart (my grandfather).  The two were somewhat regarded as small-town royalty, she the beauty queen, and he the two-sport collegiate athlete who was also extremely intelligent, earning a business degree with honors.  They coexisted in a fairytale romance until things began to crumble after my grandmother’s first pregnancy.

Although everyone revered my grandmother’s beauty and benevolence while growing up, those closest to her always detected a slight mental difference.  After her first pregnancy, that difference turned into crazy.  I have read that sometimes there can be a connection between the onset of schizophrenia and large life-altering or traumatic events; i.e. grief, divorce, rape, bankruptcy, pregnancy, etc.  I believe in my grandmother’s case, possibly her first pregnancy created chemical changes during a developmental time in her early twenties.  These changes might have been enough to open the flood gates to a full-blown mental illness.  My grandfather can recall times where they would be lying in bed and he would wake up to her screaming and being completely inconsolable. Shortly after she became increasingly delusional, frequently making false accusations about him that supported her ever-growing irrational need for a divorce.  My grandfather tried to hang on, but the union, once so perfect, was now inexplicably doomed.

As a child my mother can more or less remember raising herself (probably more than less) because my grandmother was so detached, distracted, and overburdened by the demanding voices of constant invisible visitors. Although my grandmother was not maternal to her own children, she was nurturing in her own ways in her own pursuits.  As a result, she created immense beauty with her artistic talent and personal passions.  She was an avid gardener and loved giving life to flowers that were as beautiful as she had been in her youth.  She was a talented painter and poet as well. She also had an immense love for all animals: cats, birds, dogs, insects, anything with a pulse, so long as it was not her own blood it seemed.  My mother can remember a time where my grandmother spent a whole day nursing a baby robin back to health, giving it her undivided attention from sunrise to sundown.  As a child, my mother remembers thinking, Why doesn’t she care about me like that?  My grandmother had very little money toward the end of her life, but she was innovative and resourceful.  She would use scraps, trash,,second-hand anything and create gorgeous recycled art for her garden, for her walls, for gifts.  She could see beauty where the rest of us only saw garbage.

I grew up with three adults in my house: mom, dad, and grandma.  I can remember from about four years old, standing outside my grandma’s door listening to her have very interesting conversations with the radio.  She also talked to the birds, her cat, and her flowers.  When she wasn’t gardening or feeding the birds, she was writing in her composition notebooks.  Her writings were scattered thoughts that were physically scattered across the pages as well, written at all different angles in every vacant space of the paper.  When I was nine my grandmother enlisted my help in making her a bedframe out of stacks of her fully written notebooks.  She had filled enough to make a frame and put a mattress  – a full-size bed – on top.

My grandma died my freshman year of high school.  She died of multiple physical health issues, but these would have never existed had she not been in bad mental health. She was creative, gifted, beautiful, and constantly misunderstood.  I’m happy I got to spend fourteen years of my life with her.  I love and miss you Grandma.  “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” (Fredrich Nietzche).