The fear of mental health

You know, people are scared of motorcycle clubs. You pull up at Kum and Go and the parking lot is full of bikers. Leather chaps and vests. Coats with a myriad of colorful patches that are full of skulls and knives. Bandannas and chains. Heavy black boots that make all of the bikers similar in their stance and gait. In general, they cause suspicion for a lot of us and we steer clear and keep our eyes down, scared to make eye contact for fear of drawing their attention.

Now, I happen to know a few ‘bikers’. Ken used to be one. If you know my husband, you know there’s nothing scary about him. We used to take short trips on his Harley and he wore his leather garb and a bandanna on his head. He got side glances. Always. Fortunately I was also on the bike. I most likely had on cute jeans, a jacket with flowers and glitter and more often than not, black Ugg sneakers with puffy pom poms on them. I had to wear a helmet, which ruined all my pretty blond hair for the day, but I smiled and talked to everyone as usual. I lessened the threat. 😂😂

We see these clubs as a threat. We shrink from their presence and pretend we don’t see them. We don’t embrace anything about them. We are intimidated by them. Our minds scream AVOID! Even Ken, who’s about as threatening as a turtle, caused a caution when we were out and about on the Harley.

For the past five weeks, I have had the honor of sitting with a group of women each Tuesday. We are also part of a club. No one wants to be a part of this club. The initiation was too high.

People also avoid our club. Especially if there are members who’s children died an ‘unacceptable’ death.

Cancer is ok.

Car wrecks, alright.

Overdose, intentional or not. Death by suicide. Murder.

Those aren’t ok. That takes a child’s death to a different level. It’s not ‘acceptable’

When people hear Kade died by suicide, there is a fault there. Depending on different points of view, the fault lies with different people.

But mostly it’s Kade’s fault.

“If he would have gotten help……”
“If he wasn’t drinking so much…..”
“If he could have just tried to be happier….”

We feel the need to assign blame on something ‘fixable’ so it softens it. Or removes it. These assignments change the narrative so it’s easier to distance ourselves from it.

“Thank God my child doesn’t……

Drink

Do drugs

Act depressed

Act angry, mean, raw”

My child was broken. He always had been. If their is any ‘fault’, it’s that we didn’t recognize how horrible it was for him.

We didn’t. We didn’t because no one talks about these things. We had no idea the fight he was fighting.

That scares people. Because that means it could happen to them. I don’t think this is a conscious thought, I think it’s an underlying fear.

People steer clear of our club. We are a threat. Not physically, no. Mentally, for sure.

Mental health is the most under talked about disease there is. It’s better now than it was 28 years ago, but not by much.

It’s scary. We avoid it. I avoided it.

I paid no attention to it until Kade. And I’ve been depressed a good portion of my life. I’ve had a LOT of counseling. I’ve read books on a hundred different subjects concerning depression.

There is this illusion that if you’ll do the right things, you can pull yourself up by your boot straps and get better.

I thought that.

I said it to Kade.

I told him to “just…..” his whole life.

Just calm down. Just think about something else. Just pray. Just read this book. Just go to counseling. I said it to him as if it were a simple fix if he would “just do it”.

I don’t have a lot of guilt about this. I didn’t know. It’s no different than if he’d had a tumor and I didn’t have the skill to operate on it.

BECAUSE WE DON’T TALK ABOUT IT.

I’m not even sure what all IT is.

I’m in this club now. But I’m changing the bylaws. I’m going to work to empower people to talk, talk, talk. I’m going to change the focus of my club to one of admission, acknowledgment, recognition and promise.

WE HAVE TO LEARN.

We have to learn. YOU have to learn. We have to become aware and alert and we have to make mental health a priority. And we have to make resources easier to obtain. This is a fight. So many people are losing.

We live in a very small community. We lost three young men to suicide in less than a year’s time. Two were almost the same age, the same race and economic background, the same social circle and they worked for the same company. They died about six months apart. What is happening?!

My son was one of those two people.

There is a stigma attached to suicide. We want to tidy it up and make it make a sense that removes it from our personal lives.

It can happen to you. It happened to me. You don’t want to be forced to join my club. However, I do think you should support it.

Stop white washing mental health. It’s ugly and hard. Sometimes impossible. It’s going to take a movement to change it. I’m begging you to become a part of that movement.

Kade fought for his life. He was wrestling with things so fiercely. He was in a terrible, losing battle. And I didn’t even recognize it. Oh my God, that’s so awful to live with. That keeps me up at night. Not knowing how horribly he was hurting. The signs were there, I just couldn’t see them. I didn’t know what I was looking for.

Some blame Kade for his action. They presume this was his ‘fault’. They assign a blame and perpetuate the falsehood that he did this on purpose. That his harm was purposeful. There is no doubt that Kade did this intentionally. But his purpose was not harm. It was desperate. It was a desperate act to end his pain. That’s almost more than I can bare.

Embrace us. Help us. Learn from us.

Support our club instead of casting your eyes down with avoidance because it’s awkward or scary.

This is going to take a village.

Please continue to pray for our family. Your intercession is needed daily.