start the conversation / change the conversation

An actor was found dead today in his Culver city home, 
and with no evidence of foul play it seemed he'd acted on his own, 
the position of his body looked like he was reaching for the phone, 
makes you wonder who he was gonna call

Maybe all his demons were settling their debts
Or maybe all the pressure finally drove him to the wall
Maybe there were secrets that he needed to protect
Or maybe it's for no good reason at all.

"for no good reason" - dawes

it is june 17, 2018.

just two weeks ago the world lost two people who used their gifts to create empires, of fashion or culinary influence. Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain lived very different lives, but both completed suicide on the first week of June. 

speculation on the reason two people of wealth and good fortune would choose to end their journey early will swirl around the internet, offices, and across tabletops for years to come. however, the story has already fallen silent on media channels across the United States. There's an ongoing investigation plaguing the President of the United States, the 2018 World Cup is underway, and frankly, suicide is not something we want to talk about.

there's a laundry list of conversations that we just don't care to discuss in america and most of them have to do with the way you feel, or the way life seems. with the rise of movements like #metoo, Black Lives Matter, and March for Our Lives, there has been an increasing amount of voices ready to express how they feel - marginalized, terrorized and undervalued. all of these moments matter in their own right and to try to explain their importance in society would overshadow this topic and simply not do any justice to the light each is trying to shine.

it's simply important to recognize that in all of these groups, a feeling is being expressed. often, many feelings. anger, sadness, remorse; agony, sorrow, rage. once again, the conversation is being pushed out of the mouths of a nation that bit its tongue or turned it's head. it's hard to say to endgoal of a feeling. there's no "fix" for years of systematic oppression.  we can't turn back time and unhurt these groups. we can't put their lives at the point where it could have been, if they hadn't had to endure. but we can change for the better.

the future doesn't have to look like the past.

which is what brings us to the two celebrity suicides at the beginning of june 2018. the future of mental health doesn't have to look like its past. the option to kill yourself isn't going to go away, but the help that can encourage someone to stay past those feelings can improve. the conversations over suicide and what causes it and what helps those who are hurting, needs to take shape. the option to feel something other than success and joy, needs to be expressed. a community isn't built on a single person's idea. we need to change the conversation, but first we need to start the conversation.

so often we dissolve into our phone when things get "boring" or uninteresting to us. even in a room full of people, we turn our eyes to... more people, just flatter. the difficult thing about suicide is that it is silent. someone who doesn't feel like living has already exhausted their brain;  their legs working tirelessly to keep their head above water. at the point where you are detatched, wondering if what you just experienced was real or just a part of the endless dream you've been experiencing since the clouds rolled in, there is little left to say. moments of being awake are a struggle, both mentally and physically. you can wake up from 10 hours of sleep and immediately turn to go back to bed. it's better to shut off than to question every move. so, when someone does have even the courage to get out of bed, it's important to meet them where they are at. listening isn't going to cure them, but it's going to help them not feel alone.

running beside someone isn't going to finish the race for them.

someone's suicidal ideation won't likely come out over coffee. there's no "what to expect" for someone ready to die, but through conversation there can be an understanding. at the very least, they get to express their thoughts. they might be walking through the dark, but now they have a voice to echo back. 


Don't Forget Your Twenties

It's 2018... and there seems to be a good deal of sex appeal, branding, and immediacy to everything we fill our time with. From Instagram trends of booty pics, the new "look, I eat veggies too" diet, and the great outdoors adventures (which apparently can only happen if you take the pictures to prove it), to the way we are all so busy with the next greatest book, movie, app, or just general philosophy / binging information from Netflix or whatever streaming platform. 

I get it. I'm in it, too. The whirlwind of noise and static. The tireless source of energy and anxiety. I feel like a walking Pinterest board of hopes and fears. Maybe in the 80's, people were saying the same thing...How group classes must have been just a faux way of making people feel like they are in better shape after the Coke and burger (I guess that was big then, yeah?) But what if the cycles were are ripping through are torturing young minds that have a story yet to write? What if all this noise keeps us staring at the page in a constant writer's block until one day we go to wake up and write and we just... don't. wake. up.

I've been binging information from Audible; specifically memoirs and biographies. I've been listening to the stories of innovators, comedians, and potential presidents, trying to assemble an idea of where these people were when they set out to change the world. So far, my efforts have been fruitless. Fruitless in the sense that the answer was something you could pinpoint, circle, and remarket. There's no "secret sauce to success" despite what all your connections on LinkedIn say. 

At 24, Nike creator Phil Knight was a virgin, living in his parent's home in Oregon. Just out of grad school - He didn't have a grand plan for a shoe company - or even have the name. It was the Blue Ribbon Company, and he sold shoes from his basement. Comedian Trevor Noah grew up in Africa, where his mother prioritized his education, faith, and mannerisms, but couldn't shelter him from the abuse and clamor of a mad world - when she was shot in the head (she survived). Of course, you know about Steve Jobs, the man who was fired from his own company. Before the man put 1,000 songs into your pocket, he was in and out of school - slipping into typography classes at Reed College. At 23, podcast and TV host, Chris Gethard, was battling suicidal ideations. If he hadn't gotten help, he wouldn't have created a television show that unites the funny and awkward, or a podcast that connects a random phone call to thousands of listeners, or a stand-up special on HBO that advocates the importance of mental health. Have you ever seen a movie with Kevin Hart in it? He almost didn't make it out of high school, and in his twenties, he was struggling with alcoholism and a future he was unsure of. The list goes on and on of people who, at a young age, didn't have the success they strived for or even knew what that success would be. But in all of these stories, there is one thing that they all have in common: once they found the thing they were passionate about, they cut out the noise.

Life is all about balance. Do you want a great diet? Eat the things you enjoy, in moderation. Do you want to stop feeling so busy? Put the phone down, and take a day to yourself. Go to the places you want to see, read the books, watch the shows, and enjoy the time you get to spend without expectation or anticipation (of likes, retweets, favorites). At twenty-something, you don't have to be married, or in a relationship with "the one." In fact, how could you be? This world is a big, big place. There are many souls to meet. Maybe you met the right person, but it takes years to know someone's many sides. How will they handle grief, anger, joy? In your lowest moments, can they hold you up? In their lowest moments, can you do the same? It's okay to wear whatever you want. You don't have to look like the people on your Instagram feed. It's okay to not really like kale or to really love McDonald's (just in moderation). It's okay to need some time before you go back to school. It's okay to go back to school when you are 27, 37, 47...77. Just go back to school. Whatever it is that you do, do it with an honest heart and the best intentions. It's cool to try. It's cool to care. It's cool to chase the things you want. It's cool to love earnestly. 

You don't need the answers to life's questions. 

But we should all be listening, for when those answers come.





Down with the Sickness

I'm going to put this out there...

I don't do being sick. 

Who would enjoy the sniffles? Who would enjoy the fever or the random aches? Does anyone enjoy that feeling of being cold but having a five layers on and kicking and flailing under the covers because you just don't know what else to do with your clearly broken body? 

But it's not broken. It's not a forever feeling.

Then why does it feel like forever?

When I'm sick (and you can verify this with friends and family) I hide away, as much as I can. I do the absolute minimum tasks I must do, like work or school, and then I bury myself in covers and try to pretend that sleeping is the same as being well. For the first few days, I'll go and run. It'll feel awful and I'll not feel any sense of accomplishment. What's the sense in running if I can't better myself? What's the point of leaving my bed if I don't want to see the world? What's the point? To me, being sick is a defeat I can't handle. I sort through all my interactions in the last few weeks and try to find patient zero. I'll go through any parts of a day I can remember and ask myself when I washed my hands. Where could I have been more cautious?

I know..."Chill, bro."

But there are only so many days in this life. I don't want to give away the precious moments to a bed and a negative thought process. I don't want to look out my window and wish I were there. I want to be there. The larger part of the problem is the feeling that the clock is counting down and I'm too much of a control freak to let something else decide when I go. It's there lurking in the best of moments, whispering, "You better enjoy this moment. There will only be so many." It's there is the worst of experiences holding a sign that says "Never waste a moment." Because to me, when I feel anything other than chipper, I feel like I've wasted something so precious. 

The thing is, the rain clouds don't stop because you hate the rain. The storm passes when the weather allows for it to. I'm starting to accept the fact that the grey is just as good as the blue. On some days, it is even sweeter. When I'm sick, I'm learning to appreciate the civil war my cells are fighting - and that it is a gift my body is doing what it needs to do to survive.

But when I'm dancing alone with my red nose and puffy cheeks, or laughing through misty eyes I'm trying to do the same.