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Suicide, responsibility, and the teenaged brain

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Cross-posted at Waking Up Now.

by Rob Tisinai

Anti-gay activists want to duck responsibility for anti-gay bullying and teen suicide. They occasionally veer into sheer lunacy, as when they claim gay teens are in despair because society is too accepting of homosexuality. But there’s one dodge I find particularly offensive. From the comments on NOM’s Facebook page:

The only people responsible for the suicides are the people that comitted them.

Nobody forces anyone to take his own life; ergo, only those who commit suicide are responsible.

Each person is responsible 4 their own actions. U make believe u r gay. God did not make u gay & He does not make u commit sucicide. nor does anyone else

I don’t know if gay is always a choice, or not. But suicide is ALWAYS a choice. The ultimate cop-out.

To be fair, I don’t see this from polished anti-gay leaders. But it’s all over the comments on their web pages and blogs. It’s a strange argument coming from conservatives, who generally believe teenagers require strict discipline and are still learning to make wise decisions. They think a 15-year-old like Billy Lucas can’t handle alcohol, a car, the vote, or serving in the military, but he’ll have no trouble hearing that in the core of his being he’s an abomination, a pervert, an affront to God.

We have good reason not to trust kids to their own judgment when it comes to the big stuff. The human brain isn’t mature until it’s 23 to 25 years old. Through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), scientists are now able to track blood flow — and therefore activity — in the brains of adults and teens as they confront information and solve problems. The science is new, but some differences are clear:

Between childhood and adulthood, the brain’s “wiring diagram” becomes richer, more complex and more efficient, especially in the brain’s frontal lobe, or front outer mantle, which is the seat of such higher order functions as learning and socialization. An important part of the frontal lobes is the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is often referred to as the “CEO” or executive of the brain and is responsible for such skills as setting priorities, organizing plans and ideas, forming strategies, controlling impulses, and allocating attention. New research suggests that the PFC is one of the last areas of the brain to fully mature…

[O]ne key MRI study found that when identifying emotions expressed on faces, teens more often activated their amygdala—the brain area that experiences fear, threat and danger— whereas adults more often activated their prefrontal cortex—the area of the brain linked more to reason and judgment—and performed better on the task. Behaviorally, the adult’s responses were more intellectual, the teens’ more from the gut. These findings and others suggest that although the plasticity and changeability of the adolescent brain are extremely well suited to meet the demands of teen life, guidance from parents and other adult institutions are essential while decision-making circuitry is being formed.

Impulse control, planning and decisionmaking are largely frontal cortex functions that are still maturing during adolescence…[O]ne reason adolescents may have difficulty inhibiting inappropriate impulses is that the circuitry needed for such control is not fully mature in early adolescence, thereby making such tasks relatively difficult.

In short, kids have less impulse control than adults, and they listen to their gut when processing emotional cues.

Adults: prefrontal cortex
b2

Teens: amygdala
b1
Imagine then that you’re a gay teen, and you’re watching this Jimmy Swaggart broadcast with your parents, who have demonized gays all your life. Look at Swaggart’s face as he speaks. Take in his “emotional cues.” Hear your parents murmuring “Mm hmm. That’s right.”

Imagine reacting from your gut, not your intellect. Imagine your brain has only limited impulse control.

Imagine all that — as the only life you know.

Click to watch Jimmy Swaggart on what he’d do if a gay man looked at him “that way.”

Maggie Gallagher wants to know if she has blood on her hands. Jimmy Swaggart. Peter Sprigg. Tony Perkins. Bryan Fischer. Linda Harvey. Whether you’re calling us an abomination, or phrasing it more gently (like Maggie) and merely saying we can never feel the love that a man and a woman can. You all have blood on your hands.

53 Comments

  • 1. Kathleen  |  November 4, 2010 at 3:59 am

  • 2. goudy  |  November 4, 2010 at 4:11 am

    Interesting read. Especially since I'm still just 21.

  • 3. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  November 4, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Well written as usual Rob

  • 4. jstueart  |  November 4, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Awesome post. It's shocking how much people want to wash their hands of their responsibility. You can't pour toxic sludge in a lake and then wonder why people are getting sick….

  • 5. Mouse  |  November 4, 2010 at 4:17 am

    "God did not make u gay & He does not make u commit sucicide."

    Of course not. Neither did the tooth fairy, nor Santa Claus, nor bigfoot, nor any other make believe person.

    Just because your imaginary friend is off the hook due to lack of existing doesn't mean that people choose to be gay.

    And even if there is no god to take up the mantle of responsibility, there are delusional followers who do harmful things and don't get to shirk responsibility for their actions so easily. When you tell a child that he doesn't deserve to live, you own a part of what happens next; when that child dies, you can't wash your hands because the blood on them is there for a reason.

  • 6. Ronnie  |  November 4, 2010 at 4:19 am

    I concur….<3…Ronnie

  • 7. fiona64  |  November 4, 2010 at 4:19 am

    Hell, we see it with our own trolls right here.

    "I never told any GLBT people to commit suicide."

    "I never called any of the posters names."

    "I don't hate you; I just don't like your lifestyle."

    "I'm not afraid of you; I just don't like what you're doing to our country."

    "I'm not a bigot; I just think you're disgusting."

    And, of course, the classic "I'm sorry you were offended."

    (I'm looking at you, Team George, Team Kay, Michael Ejercito et al.)

    Yes, your words are wounding and offensive — no matter how you try to pretty them up.

    Love the bigot, hate the bigotry,
    Fiona

  • 8. Polydactyl  |  November 4, 2010 at 4:28 am

    Sure, I take responsibility for my depression and mental illness. HOWEVER, there is an understanding gap with many of those who have never personally experienced it, in that the conscious mind is just like your physical body. It can become sick, disabled, and malfunction. Your ability to make clear, rational decisions can be as impeded just as your ability to walk is obstructed by a broken ankle.

    Certainly, no one directly "forces" someone to commit suicide, but that does not excuse the people around them from placing them in a situation where their vulnerable mental facilities break down under stress. Under a certain amount of duress the human mind is incapable of making a rational decision.

    You don't blame a clock for giving you the wrong time when its gears are broken; you can't place full responsibility for a decision on a mind whose emotional foundations are damaged. Adolescence imposes a great amount of stress to begin with, and many forget what it is like (or had smooth sailing, and presume that the same holds for others – it's so easy to put this sort of thing down to personal moral failings).

    You cannot hold the victim responsible when it is older, wiser, more capable and powerful human beings who have placed them in a situation that they cannot handle.

  • 9. StraightForEquality  |  November 4, 2010 at 4:38 am

  • 10. Ann S.  |  November 4, 2010 at 4:47 am

    Well said, Polydactyl. I would add that you are not responsible for causing your depression, but hopefully you are taking steps to get treatment and help.

  • 11. Ronnie  |  November 4, 2010 at 4:49 am

    Interview with Ky Allums, the NCAA Division 1's first publicly Transgender Player & George Washington University Student /Women's Basketball team member…..<3…Ronnie:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVcc6wDRuL0&fe

  • 12. Kathleen  |  November 4, 2010 at 4:49 am

    Remember the arrest of Holly Hahn at the NOM rally in Columbus, Ohio last summer? Her trial is coming up and she posts this on facebook:

    "Disorderly conduct- my trial is next Wednesday. I need anyone who can say they saw me 'shaking hands' with NOM supporters, not 'grabbing arms' as I am being accused of." If anyone was at the NOM protest and saw this incident unfold, please speak up and help a fellow freedom fighter."

  • 13. Lightning Baltimore  |  November 4, 2010 at 4:57 am

    Sadly, some in our own community are also putting the complete onus on the youths who've committed suicide, while essentially defending the bullies, NOM and all other anti-gay forces from criticism. Check the comments on the original post on Rob's blog.

  • 14. JonT  |  November 4, 2010 at 4:58 am

  • 15. Sagesse  |  November 4, 2010 at 5:04 am

    Well said. I like Rob's point about the religious right being all over kids as being in need of discipline and direction, unless it's a lost and lonely LGBT kid who has no support structure… then they're totally responsible for their own actions.

  • 16. Ronnie  |  November 4, 2010 at 5:27 am

    http://www.towleroad.com/2010/11/bounville.html

    WATCH: ACTIVIST ADDS HUNGER STRIKE TO CAMPAIGN DEMANDING GILLIBRAND FILE BILL TO ADD GAYS TO CIVIL RIGHTS ACT

    NYC gay activist Alan Bounville has stepped up a campaign to persuade Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a staunch supporter of marriage equality and a proactive advocate of DADT repeal, to file a bill adding gays and lesbians to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    Bounville is so determined that he has been holding daily vigils in front of her campaign office for weeks, and on the day of the election began a hunger strike.

    DNA Info reports:

    On Oct. 11, the vigil was expanded to a 24-hour protest and ended early Tuesday morning when Bounville started his hunger strike at an undisclosed location.

    On Tuesday night, 18 hours into the fast, Bounville spoke to DNAinfo over the phone.

    "I have a bit of a headache," he said. "What's keeping me going is these visualizations of Tyler Clementi jumping off that bridge. I keep replaying that in my mind."

    "The issue is full civil rights right now," he explained, in contrast to the more narrow, targeted battles favored by many mainstream LGBT advocacy groups such as marriage equality, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and anti-bullying bills.

    "None of this piecemeal, convoluted stuff," he said.

    But even within the LGBT community, many believe that a campaign like Bounville's should wait for a time when there is broader congressional support.

    "You can count on one hand the number of members of the Senate that supports this idea," Richard Socarides, a Chelsea-based gay and lesbian civil rights attorney and former White House advisor to President Clinton, said at the start of the vigil.

    "Senator Gillibrand has been probably our strongest advocate for gay and lesbian civil rights in the entire federal government," he added.

    Bounville was arrested in May with five other activists after chaining himself to the White House fence in a DADT protest. He was also arrested at a protest in February outside the NYC marriage bureau, demanding licenses be issued to same-sex couples.

    In a video recorded at the beginning of his 'Civil Rights fast' on Tuesday, Bounville claims that Gillibrand is not a "friend" of the LGBT community — because no politicians are:

    "Many people will say that Kirsten Gillibrand is our friend and that couldn't be further from the truth. Our United States Senators, our President, anybody, our House members, local politicians — none of them are our friends. They are, at best, our employees. Now if someone were to say, 'I think Kirsten Gillibrand is my friend,' my response to them would be 'well then you want her to be your friend.' I don't want my senators to be my friends. I want them to do the work that they are put into office to do."

    (me) I'll post videos of Day 1 & 2 in a reply…..<3…Ronnie

  • 17. Ronnie  |  November 4, 2010 at 5:28 am

    Civil rights Fast Day 1…..<3…Ronnie:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szjCf4tZB4k&fe

  • 18. Ronnie  |  November 4, 2010 at 5:29 am

    Civil Rights Fast Day 2…..<3….Ronnie:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=squ_jO2RM68&fe

  • 19. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  November 4, 2010 at 5:35 am

    Some of those same comments have been made right here on P8TT.
    Persons claiming that anyone committing suiside was just being selfish, among other nonsense.
    Sad very sad indeed

  • 20. paul  |  November 4, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Thanks Rob ! What more can you say about "them" relinquishing "their" responsibility for "their" hate speach?
    The words come right out of their mouths…the messages are often blunt & hurtful…and very effective… as they're meant to be.
    I can still hear the voices at my age (58) telling me I'm sick, unworthy, going to hell. My dad said that last one to me the last time I saw him 30 years ago. He's 86 now…I'll never see him again. Not ever !
    I love who I am now…I escaped the terror and near suicide many years ago by building my own family on the other side of the country. "It got so much better" when I left and found my real family…my real tribe.
    To all the young gays & lesbians…Have hope…talk to someone…and get out as fast as you can!!!

  • 21. Buffy  |  November 4, 2010 at 6:02 am

    When will those paragons of personal responsibility start realizing that nobody *makes* them spew anti-gay hatred toward other people (including "god"). Will they ever come right out and say "I choose to be a bigot"? Or will they continue to hide behind their Bibles and their "beliefs"?

  • 22. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  November 4, 2010 at 6:19 am

    Big Hugs Paul!

  • 23. Rose  |  November 4, 2010 at 6:39 am

    Well said as always Rob. Thank you.

  • 24. Brittney  |  November 4, 2010 at 6:41 am

    So how about I found out there were some people on my FB friends list that had friended NOM's page….
    DELETED.

    This whole debocle makes me sick to my stomache.
    How dare someone say "only those who commit suicide are responcible." For someone to go as far as to end their own life, there is always a reason. All over noms page are people talking about what an abomination we are and that "homosexuality IS A CHOICE"
    GAWD. JESUS. BIBLE. JESUS. GAWD.
    That is all their argument consists of. No offence to any christians here, but not everyone has the same religion, some people don't even have one and are perfectly content, like myself.
    These people are so clouded by their religion that they fail to realize what they are doing to our youth. These kids need to hear that they are accepted and loved for who they are. Not that they are an abomination and are going to hell.
    whew..sorry about the rant. I got a bit worked up after looking at nom's FB page.
    <3

  • 25. Mouse  |  November 4, 2010 at 6:44 am

    As someone who lost a mother to suicide when I was eight, I have to say that suicide IS selfish. Unfortunately, as a means of fighting back, it's a horrible option. The people who love you are hurt by it in ways you can't ever fix because you are dead. The people you want to hurt back for what they have done to get you to that state are likely to wash their hands of their part in it. It's all around a bad solution to whatever you are going through.

    Life can be hard. Especially when we're teenagers and our bodies betray us with uncontrollable hormones and emotions. The adults around us say terrible things, generalizing how all teenagers are horrid, but rare are the people who remember well enough or understand well enough to say the things we need to hear to help us through all the changes happening to our bodies and minds.

    Most of us are figuring out a lot about who we are during those years. That's hard for everyone – we're forced to endure a world where popularity is worshiped and surrounded by people just as emotional and insecure who try to claw their way up the social ladder at the expense of anyone they can put below them. Coming to terms with being LGBT in that environment is not easy.

    Peers judge you, mock you, abuse you. They don't do this because there's really anything wrong with you; most do it out of self-defense. If they can turn the spotlight on you, it gives them a moment when it isn't shining on them and their differences.

    Not all kids get the luxury of good parents – even when their parents are the NOM ideal of bio mom and dad. For LGBT, the people whose number 1 job it is to take care of us are too often too immature or insecure to be the good, supportive parents kids need to get through hard times.

    And it's a gamble. Your parents might be amazing, but part of being a teenager is the widening of the generation gap. Even if you'll one day realize that your parents were fantastic and doing the best they could, you might not be able to see that when you are a teenager. Your emotions are frequently at extremes, and you have no way of knowing until you come out whether your parents will be the type to take over the local PFLAG group, or the lowlife douchebags who would throw you out of the house. Sometimes we cut ourselves off from loved ones who could have been great supporters because we're afraid of the potential for rejection; it seems easier to suffer in the closet with the torment we're familiar with than to risk losing our families.

    Easier, maybe, but never easy.

    Even if you are not ready to talk to your parents or family, you don't have to go through it alone. We may not have full equality yet today, but we are making progress and there are so many places you can reach out to in order to talk to someone who can relate to what you are dealing with, someone who can empathize with you, and help put things in perspective.

    It gets better.

    That phrase has almost become cliche with the internet campaign, and yet, it's true.

    I hid from my family for years. Lied to them about who I loved. They all knew or at least suspected, but it wasn't talked about (except perhaps behind-the-back). Now I am legally married in CA and all my family has met and adores my husband.

    Not everyone will be so lucky to have a family that surprises them so positively, but you'll find even stronger bonds with the family you choose as you meet wonderful people who love you for being you. You can survive even if those related by blood are not as evolved and come out stronger for it, surrounding yourself with better people – male and female, gay and straight.

    You might not be able to find them all right now, today, during your teenage years. It takes time. But they are out there, and they need you as much as you need them.

  • 26. Kathleen  |  November 4, 2010 at 6:45 am

    The only way someone can post a comment on NOM's FB page is if they friend it. So, those friends of yours who friended NOM, may have done so only for that reason. Personally, I can't bring myself to include their page among my "likes" but I know a lot of people do in order to comment.

  • 27. Mouse  |  November 4, 2010 at 6:50 am

    You should double check with those FB friends – some of them may have only done that so they could comment on NOMs page.

    Also, if they are misguided enough to support NOM, it is better to talk to them rationally. If they really are your friends, you might be the example they need to humanize the issue. It is much easier to rationalize the crazy when dealing with an abstract gay menace than it is to apply that abstraction to the decent people we love who bring all the stereotypes and prejudices crashing down around us.

  • 28. Brittney  |  November 4, 2010 at 7:02 am

    It didn't really bother me, it was just 2 people that I used to go to highschool with, never talked to them for real anyway.
    All of my actual friends support gay marriage and such. So, all is well ^.^

  • 29. Rhie  |  November 4, 2010 at 7:15 am

    Watching…

  • 30. Straight Ally #3008  |  November 4, 2010 at 7:17 am

    I simply cannot wrap my mind around how parents can disown their own children – I'm so sorry to hear that you went through that, Paul, and happy that you have found your way in the world. Apologies if I missed it, but did you do an "It gets better" video?

  • 31. Alan E.  |  November 4, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Being a teenager does not automatically make you a rational person. There are some things that seem too bleak for youth (and adults, too). That is why we needed the message of "It Gets Better."

  • 32. Alan E.  |  November 4, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Check, check damn box.

  • 33. Kathleen  |  November 4, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Paul, I'm so sorry you went through this with your parents. Like SA#3008, I just can't imagine how parents turn their backs on children. HUGS.

  • 34. Michelle Evans  |  November 4, 2010 at 7:41 am

    Their argument is sort of like the person who murders someone else, who then blames the victim. How many times have you seen the scenario that someone holds a gun to someone else's head, and then says that if they don't do exactly as they are told, then he will have to shoot them. When they don't comply, for whatever reason, he kills the person, then says, "But he made me do it."

    NOM, and everyone who supports them and their hateful agenda, are holding a gun to the heads of all the LGBT people, when they tell them, "You are not really gay, lesbian, trans. You are just deluded, and if you can't change to do exactly as we tell you you must, then it is your own fault that your life is wasted."

  • 35. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  November 4, 2010 at 8:29 am

    And as someone who attempted suicide multiple times I can say NOPE……may seem selfish to those left behind, but until you can see the situation through the eyes of the one attempting to or succeeding in the suicide I don't believe you can state blk and wht that yes it is selfish.
    I am not dening in full that there may indeed be a selfish side to it, but it is not the major motivation.
    Suicide is a desperate act, a last ditch effort to be in control
    IMHO

  • 36. Bob  |  November 4, 2010 at 9:16 am

    thanks Ronnie again for the link,

    Alan is taking action, he's called us all as family to do our part, my hightest respect, and honor, for his determination, please keep us posted ,

    watch this Man, he's doing something……….

  • 37. Bob  |  November 4, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Holly Hahn, freedom fighter, I think of her often, hope the courtroom is flooded with physical showing of support on that day, And also that someone somewhere may remember and witness for her. thank you Holly

  • 38. Kathleen  |  November 4, 2010 at 9:30 am

    I'm concerned that this may be going under the radar. I don't see much of a groundswell of support.

  • 39. Mouse  |  November 4, 2010 at 9:35 am

    And having friends for whom there have been times when knowing how much they would hurt those left behind was the only thread that kept them from the act, I stand by my statement that suicide is selfish.

    This has kept friends of mine alive. I won't apologize for it.

    I don't say this as an attack on those who have committed suicide. It's not meant as a judgement for people who have already reached a bad, dark place. It's meant as a reminder that there are people who love us, people who will be profoundly damaged if we go through with it.

    Long term, that's not enough. Without working on the deeper issues, eventually people get to a breaking point where they don't care who they hurt any more.

    But in the moment, if that's what it takes to get someone through a really bad time; if knowing that what you are about to do will hurt the people who love you the most, and will hurt them forever with no chance to repair the damage you do to them gets even one person to stop and get through another day? Mission accomplished.

    Labeling suicide as selfish doesn't absolve everybody else from their contributing factors. At the same time, the person who is committing the act still needs to have some of the responsibility for his actions – saying otherwise lets people give up too easily. I want everyone who is in that situation to know that they still do have control, and I want them to keep fighting to be with us.

    It's complicated. Multi-faceted. I don't mean to diminish all the other aspects of it, or to claim that selfishness is the pure motivation for it. I just want people who are in the middle of that darkness to hear what it does to others because in my experience people who have been desperate and sad and tortured were empathetic enough with pain to not want to do that to anyone else and hadn't really thought of things from that perspective before.

  • 40. Ronnie  |  November 4, 2010 at 9:51 am

    & that is why it is not selfish…because as far as the ones feeling suicidal are concerned…quite often they feel that nobody cares, nobody loves them, the entire world is against them….there is no selfishness if in the world you live in you already feel like you don't exist…It is up to those around them to make the effort because they are often the ones that are the problem…..this has been gone over before in a past thread…so I am not repeating myself…that is all I have to say about this.. : / ….Ronnie

  • 41. Ronnie  |  November 4, 2010 at 11:05 am

    You're welcome…I posted the video for Day 3 in the "NOM: The people your (Founding) Fathers warned you about" thread…..<3…Ronnie:
    http://prop8trialtracker.com/2010/11/04/nom-the-p

  • 42. Bob  |  November 4, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    I really appreciate you bringing this up Kathleen, is there a link to her facebook page, I have the same feeling, we're forgetting a freedom fighter, what about the groups in Columbus, any way to contact them, I certainly wish for her to have support in numbers at least,

    I would feel some level of comfort if others commented here, and shared any thoughts or ideas, anyone from the Columbus area. woot woot to Holly Hahn, any support would be helpful

  • 43. paul  |  November 4, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Thanks to both of you…SA #3008 & Kathleen. I want to do a video but can't keep it together…I'm still unable to talk about this…only write. Yes, it's very sad. I missed out on a lot and so did they. I promised myself many years ago that I would never see them again unless my husband of 28 years was welcome. They've never spoken his name and don't even know we've raised 2 kids and have 4 grandchildren. How sad is that?

  • 44. paul  |  November 4, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Hugs back to you Mark in Seattle

  • 45. Kathleen  |  November 4, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    It is very sad indeed. As I'm sure you realize, they are the ones who have missed out because of their own actions.

    Fwiw, I know what it means to cut a parent out of one's life. I ceased all contact with my father soon after my mother died. This wasn't because of his reaction to my sexual orientation, but for other reasons that were just as important to my own feelings of self-worth. I also didn't want my children subjected to the same emotional abuse I was.

    Though I spent many years being sad over the fact that I didn't have the father I wanted, I finally came to terms with the fact that the man who stood in that role was incapable of being that father and instead was a toxin in my life. I've never regretted my decision to keep him away from me and my children.

  • 46. Gidein  |  November 5, 2010 at 12:52 am

    For those who would want to read a first person reaction to one of the comments quoted by Rob Tisani in the above post, check out the following note on Facebook. The writer is a good friend of mine but that's not why I'm mentioning it. She wrote a note that was full of emotion and puts it on the line. You don't have to agree with her, and I'm sure that one commenter here definitely will not. But read her piece. It might make you think just a bit differently. http://www.facebook.com/#!/note.php?note_id=48589

  • 47. Paul  |  November 5, 2010 at 12:55 am

    Kathleen…I'm sorry to hear that. I think biological parents are often in need of a peek in the mirror…I guess all parents are. Like you, I'm saddened by this outcome but knew it was the only way to feel good about myself going forward. Some compromises are not to be made!!!!
    Hugs to you .

  • 48. fiona64  |  November 5, 2010 at 1:42 am

    It was never the people around me who stopped me. Never.

    It was having pets with special needs who, if I were gone, would be euthanized rather than having loving forever homes and a second chance due to their medical needs.

    The people around me? Couldn't have cared less. I was called selfish by one of my colleagues for taking the physician-ordered time off from work after one attempt, okay? Because, see, someone else would have to do my work while I was away and that wasn't faaaaiiiirrrrr.

    Yeah, you read that right. I was selfish because I didn't fucking die and instead took the time that the doctor ordered for me to start to recovery. That was 15 years ago, and I've never forgotten it.

    Sure, now I'm glad that I failed for a lot of reasons. Back then, the only reasons I had to be glad that I failed were named Ladybug, Boots, Shadow and Nicky. The people around me were sorry pieces of shit (there, I said it) and were the reason I didn't want to be on this side of the dirt anymore.

    Fiona

  • 49. Ann S.  |  November 5, 2010 at 3:06 am

    Fiona, I'm so sorry you had those awful experiences. And I am so glad you didn't succeed and that you're around.

    Hugs,
    Ann

  • 50. Rhie  |  November 5, 2010 at 6:11 am

    I second Ann's comment. I also am very glad you are here.

    It was my cat who saved my life, as well. He cared more for me than I believed (usually rightly) that any person did.

    I miss that cat.

  • 51. fiona64  |  November 5, 2010 at 6:19 am

    Awww … thank you, ladies.

    I am glad that I am now able to recognize the darkness as it approaches and that I am learning how to sit with it, experience it, and change the thoughts that cause the feelings. It took a lot of work to get here, and some days are better than others (hell, some *minutes* are better than others). So, every once in a while I thank one cat (Nicky) and one dog (Ladybug), who both had lymphoma, and two older cats (Boots and Shadow) who had their own eccentricities, for needing me and keeping me here.

    Love,
    Fiona

  • 52. Lightning Baltimore  |  November 5, 2010 at 7:14 am

    All this talk has reminded me of a song I wrote back in my punk rock days. Well, I wrote the lyrics and the main melody, the rest of the guys came up with the other bits. Please forgive the self indulgence.

    The Landlords: "The Pain Isn't Over"

    Johnny's dead, he killed himself
    And nobody really knows why
    Now they all feel the same,
    They could have stopped it somehow

    Johnny seemed a happy boy
    He rarely got depressed
    He usually did what he was told
    He was a normal kid

    Johnny took his life one day
    He didn't leave a note
    He slashed his wrists with an X-acto knife
    In his room upstairs

    Johnny's folks have begun to drink
    They didn't feel the need before
    They scream and yell at each other
    For not seeing Johnny's needs
    Johnny's friends all feel like they
    Should have known his pain
    They wish they could have seen the signs
    He was headed for the end

    Johnny has ultimate "revenge"
    Against this cruel world
    He's ended the pain or so he thinks
    For the rest it's just begun

    When I wrote this, I was 20 and had thought off-and-on about suicide since since I was probably 11. Now that I think about it, writing this was likely a subconcious effort to keep myself from doing it. A year later, I came close; I had a plan but didn't go through with it, thankfully. I would likely not have left a note, and taken my closet with me to the grave.

    If you're wondering, yes, my first name is John (but I hate being called Johnny, or any variation on John).

    If you wanna hear it, click it: "The Pain Isn't Over"

  • 53. DK  |  November 5, 2010 at 11:40 am

    That video of Swaggart was nauseating. What a contrast to this one I found on Bryan and Jay's youtube/blog site:
    http://gayfamilyvalues.blogspot.com/2010/10/georg

    Wow…I mean, I am a lapsed Catholic and never had any real sympathy to other Christian groups but I could maybe be persuaded by this guy that there is hope.

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