Aaron’s Story

This is the story of my friend, Aaron Scott.  Aaron was a friend of mine for as long as I’ve known the word “friend.”  I remember spending the night at his house watching Conan movies and playing G.I. Joes when we were young. We would have to get up before dawn because he had a paper route.  His mother, Angie, always helped get the papers rolled and ready, then she’d drive us around the neighborhood as we ran the papers to customer’s doorsteps. After the papers were delivered, she always made us a real breakfast.  Pancakes, eggs, bacon, not cold cereal.  I remember they had a small breakfast nook, like a small “booth” at a restaurant.  I also remember lots of laughing.

In middle school, we prepared for what we figured “real life” would be like by reading books on how to become ninjas and shooting at each other with BB guns, defending his backyard from the Russians. Between Nikolai Volkoff, Rocky IV and Red Dawn, we were pretty sure the Russians were our biggest concern … till girls.

In high school, we played pool in his basement and Dungeons and Dragons on his screened-in porch. Role-playing games were a big part of our gang’s childhood. I think we all liked the idea of stepping out of our normal lives, where we were still just kids in an adult world.  Old enough to have a voice but not old enough for our vote to count. It wasn’t just escapism and excitement that we sought, I think we liked the idea of being heroes.   Saving imaginary farmers, that lived in imaginary cities from imaginary dragons with heroes that were reflections of ourselves we learned courage, honor and loyalty.  Even though the dragons were made out of paper, those morals stuck.  We were stubbornly idealistic, and Aaron in particular could get violently angry about injustice.

This is how I will always remember Aaron, a true friend, a young dreamer and a courageous hero.  This is how I will always have to remember Aaron, because I will never get to see my friend again, at least not on this earth. It turns out that Aaron and I didn’t only share many childhood memories, but we both were dealing with the same mental-health issues.  We never really talked about it to each other.  I regret that with all of my being.  My friend took his own life 13 years ago.

I found out when a detective from Arizona called me one morning asking if I knew where Aaron was.  Aaron had evidently tried to contact me through an old email address that I hadn’t used in years.  He tried to reach out for help and I didn’t hear him.  In my head I get that it wasn’t my fault, people change emails, but in my heart I felt like I had let my friend down in the biggest of ways.  Maybe I couldn’t have helped him, his family tried to help him for years, but then again…maybe I could have.  I still get headaches when I think about it.

I called the detective back every day to see if they had found Aaron or if there was any new information, if there was anyway I could help.  Then one day the detective told me that they had found Aaron and I wouldn’t be able to tell my friend goodbye.

My intentions for this article was to share what Aaron meant to me, and I think I have done that, but I had also planned on writing about how mental health can affect not only those that live with it, but everyone else who loves them as well. Then I contacted Angie, Aaron’s mother, just to make sure that it was ok with her that I share Aaron’s story, and the response I got from her was ….enlightening, on a level I couldn’t ever hope to achieve.  So I wrote her back to ask if I could use her letters in this blog, and she graciously agreed to share her story of Aaron’s struggles with depression.  The following is the unedited (except for one name change)  transcript of our conversation.



Ryan: Angie, I can’t express how much it means to me that you support this blog I’m trying to get going.  Aaron is a big reason why I feel the need to share my story, I miss my friend, and I am working on writing just what he meant to me, but I wanted to get your blessing first.  The last thing I want to do is share someone else’s pain who is not ready to re-live that moment.  And I didn’t want to just print the story without giving you … a warning, so that when you do read it, you know what you’re getting into.  I love you Angie, from the bottom of my heart.


Angie: Well Ryan. I don’t know what I can take. I know there is a lot I don’t know. I tried to get Aaron help and when he wouldn’t go, I did. I want you to share whatever you want. If I feel it’s too much, I will just stop reading. Then maybe come back and read more later. I feel that I have been visited by Aaron’s energy (Spirit) a few times in dreams. Very lucid dreams. It is comforting. I also feel like I receive clues or truths about the darkness he felt at times. I am at peace regarding his choice. I just miss him so much. Everyday, all day. I am able to function thanks to grief counseling, my wonderful husband, yoga and meditation. I started getting better last year. Took awhile I know. But all we have is time … Anyway, I actually feel myself coming out of the fog. I’m recognizing feelings of joy and happiness occasionally. I would say I’m actually feeling again. Forgot what that was like. Well, don’t want to rattle on too much. You really are an excellent writer. I like your gentle writing style, the easy way you speak about your emotions and thoughts. I always felt you were a very loving and gifted person. Thank you Ryan. I love you too and always will


Ryan: Thank you Angie.  I am not sure what all Aaron was dealing with either …   I want to share what he meant to me in life and how his choice cemented in me that I can’t go that route. I also think pointing out that mental illness doesn’t just affect those who have it, but everyone else who loves them is an important talking point. Writing this blog has been more freeing than I could have ever imagined,  I am very much into meditation as well as martial arts, but I’ve resisted counseling.  This may seem like a dumb question from a 40-year-old man, but how did you start?  I went to a psychologist a few years back for about 6 months, but I never really trusted him enough to tell him anything beyond the superficial.  The drugs they put me on made me feel like I was trapped inside my own body.  I would be smiling and laughing but on the inside it was like was thinking “Help! Please, don’t walk away, I’m stuck in here!”  I guess I’m just trying to get the courage to try again and could use some support.  I love you Angie.


Angie: Well, I don’t know what all was going on either. I knew he had difficulties early on. I was really proud that he walked at 9 months, learned to read at four. It was however puzzling that he didn’t talk till he was 2 1/2. Then he talked in complete sentences. His favorite books were the encyclopedias at 5.

He had social problems in school and it was very hard for him. Miss Namechange was terrible and embarrassed him and another child in front of the class trying to make them fight each other. In 5th grade, his teacher treated him terribly too. I don’t even remember his name. I took him to counseling; well, actually it was family counseling (family problem, right?). But the counselor said sometimes bright children have social problems. In 5th grade, 10 years old, he wanted to kill himself. I stayed by his bed side pleading, begging, wanting to help in any way. The night past, he went again to counseling, but he wasn’t honest. He learned how to play the game. When I say honest, I mean he said that it was just that moment. Nothing was wrong, and he really didn’t mean it. I think that was the beginning of being careful who you expose your thoughts to for Aaron. I don’t know what the counselor said but he never wanted to go back. He called them mind manipulators. I feel bad about that.

Flash forward. In Utah, he had another super down depression. It was terrible for him. I won’t bore you with details, but after I talked to him, we had to get him home. That’s when I began to think it was something. He wouldn’t go back to counseling, so I did. From what I described, the counselor thought he had classic bipolar disease. I told him (Aaron) that, and he said that was probably right but he wasn’t taking any drugs or participating in any counseling. So continuing counseling myself, for Aaron, I learned that you can treat bipolar disorder without drugs, but it takes a specially trained psychologist in bipolar disorder. Talk therapy is what she called it. Nope, not for him.

So what happened happened. I could have called the police. He had told me he might choose suicide by cops. I couldn’t chance that. Maybe I’m an idiot but I respected him too much. I know at 62 that all humans die eventually (unless they turn into Vampires. Just kidding). Aaron chose his time and place. I was/am devastated. I sunk deep into a black pit of nothingness. I lost all feeling of love. That was not something I had skills to overcome. Tears flowed from my eyes day and night. My heart hurt so bad in my chest. I couldn’t smile. I couldn’t answer the phone or go out in public. I didn’t want to get dressed or get a shower. I couldn’t stop the pain. I had to go to my diabetic doctor for a check up. He told me about a counselor in Parkersburg. He said she was not like most. She helped me crawl out of the pit little by little. I would claw up the sides of the pit, and then fall back down. Claw up again only to slip a few feet. Eventually I made it into the sunlight after repeating that for about 10 years. (Slow learner) No, everybody is different, I know, I know. It’s been 13 years now. Hmmmm…. you’re a sly dog, Ryan. Maybe you should be a counselor. Honey, you go to interview the counselor. After all, they are going to be working for you. You don’t like them? Don’t hire them. Keep looking until it feels right. If you don’t want medication, go to a psychologist, they can’t prescribe medication legally. Having someone to talk to that doesn’t judge you and helps you discover the right answer inside you, is so awesome! Like, yeah! Yeah! That’s how it’s supposed to be! When that happens, you know you are ready to go on your own. You got it! You made the connection, you have the tools you need. Sadness still happens (life still happens) shit goes wrong, but you can feel it and let it go. New day, new start, new opportunities, everyday. I love you too. You can always talk to me. My phone number is

By the way, I believe in slipping in and out of dimensions. I believe there are many dimensions all around us. I think it happens to people in extreme physical and emotional stress. Just my opinion.


Ryan: You are my hero.

Wow, right?

Thank you Angie Scott for sharing with us.  You are an unbelievably strong person.  Our souls are light, and with enough perseverance, we can out shine the darkest muck that life throws at us.  You inspire me to continue.  To keep my head up, grit my teeth and shine the fuck out of this world.

Here We are Again

     It’s been a tragic month for America. Starting in Vegas with 58 people murdered and 489 wounded. Days later a terrorist attack in New York killing 8 more people, injuring 11 others.  Not even a week later and a lone gunman murders 26 more (so far, 10 more are in critical condition, 4 others stable).  So, can we talk about this yet?

     Trump has blamed two of these shooting on mental health (and one on immigrants) but you will forgive me if I don’t trust him to lead the conversation about how or why these shooting have gone from rare events to yearly tragedies to monthly occurrences and now we are heading straight towards weekly mass killings.  It’s up to us to show the politicians how to lead by furthering this conversation ourselves. Hopefully they will follow in our example.

     So, is this a gun control issue or mental health?  Both?  Here are my thoughts.  The attacks themselves are mental health, obviously, guns don’t kill people without intervention from man and sane men do not kill random people.  However, the astounding number of folks that they are able to kill with these attacks is a gun control issue.  

     I think the evidence for mass shootings being mental health related is that if the shootings were “rational” in the shooters mind then they would be terrorists, there would be a “reason” for the killing. We haven’t seen a manifesto yet. No sane man decides to kill at random for no reason. It’s a “snap” effect built up after years of untreated mental weakness. I’m betting the snap takes place well before the actual shootings. This is why we do see the intricate planning but no meaning beyond personal pain. For months I imagine it’s just a fantasy they live in their heads, the typical “revenge fantasy” ala Death Wish (pretty much all of Charles Bronson’s career really). Then they seclude themselves and after a while they become dehumanized. With no attachments to people, people soon become the enemy. That self imposed solitary confinement is what blurs their reality enough for them to either not think of people as “real people” but characters in the story of their life…or they feel like the solitary confinement isn’t self imposed but instead that they are being ostracized. Then one day life is too painful. They decide that they want out and instead of just leaving they want to share just how much they hurt before they go.

     These people aren’t evil.  They are sick.  If you leave any disease untreated long enough it kills you.  But unlike cancer this disease convinces you to take your own life and apparently, sometimes, as many other lives as you can.  Sure, many diseases are contagious but this one can kill you even if you have never met patient zero.  He can be hundreds of yards away and his illness can touch hundreds others.  If that doesn’t creep you out,, then maybe you misread the last paragraph because a disease that not only kills but turns men into killers is horrifying. 

     Which brings us to the numbers.  I don’t think it’s an outrageous idea that the better guns get the more people you can kill.  I don’t even want to get into “gun control” at this point.  I’m just pointing out a fact that the better weapon you have the more damage you can do.  Can we agree to that?  

Suicidal Thoughts vs. Thinking about Suicide

First thing first.

Whether you are thinking about suicide or think you are having suicidal thoughts, TALK TO SOMEONE!!! Anyone! Father, Mother, Husband, Wife, Brother, Sister, Cousin, 2nd Cousin, Friend, Stranger, Boss, Employee, The guy at McDonald’s taking your order, LITERALLY ANYONE! (maybe not “The Cure” fans, but mostly anyone else)

Surround yourself in as many people as you can.  People care. If you ask them, they will give you a million reasons why not to take your own life.  Not only will they make it physically difficult for you to kill yourself by just being there but they drown out the self destructive thoughts with their chatter.  That second part sounds a bit harsh, I know, but hear me out.  If you are thinking about suicide on a conscious level, then talking about anything else, anything, keeps your mind occupied, if you are talking about suicide with some one else then most likely you are working out some stuff.  Thumbs up on both accounts.   If you are having “Suicidal thoughts”…. you will crave the chatter. Anything that quiets the voice in your head that tells you that you are not worth anyone’s time is a good thing.

Second thing second.  I am not a doctor, although I played Dr. Jekyll in the 5th grade (maybe not the best example of a doctor but perhaps the best example of my medical background). I have not formally studied psychology beyond high school and what I am saying may not be medically factual.  In fact if any of this is not medically accurate, please, I encourage you to educate me in the comments section.  These are only the truths I have learned through my own personal introspection.  These are the tools and techniques that I made up to help me out-smart my crazy. If any of this helps someone deal with their issues, awesome, but this is by no means a treatment.  I’m not sure how long this can work for me without getting professional help, let alone you the reader. So if at anytime you are not sure if anything I have to say means anything to you or not, refer to “First thing first”

So in my head there are two voices.  The main, thinking voice.  The one that….well thinks most of your thoughts before you say them.  This is akin to Freud’s ego, I’ve never liked that term so  I prefer to just think of it as  “The Real Me”.   The other voice, the second voice, is more of a sounding board most of time.  It says “Yeah, that is a good idea” when I have a good idea and “Hmmm….maybe we should call a real electrician/ plumber/ possum catcher” when I have a bad idea .  To which The Real Me says (in both situations) “I agree, high five!”  This is Freud’s id.  I call it “The Blackness”.

Let me explain. When I am in the middle of a bad depressive cycle that 2nd voice gets very loud and abusive.  Like a really drunk Ralph Kramden (for kids, Ralph was  a sitcom character whose catch phrases were all threats of physical violence towards his wife “Right in the kisser, Bang Zoom to the moon Alice!”).  “No one loves you!  There is no love here for you!  Pain is all you get because that is all you deserve.  No one likes hanging out with you, they just put up with you,  Can’t you see that!  Can’t you see any of that!”  These are the words of The Blackness.  As you can see it doesn’t pull many punches.  It finds what weaknesses you have and claws, hammers and picks it’s way into that weakness until it’s a hole then moves on to your next weakness, showing no mercy.

When the Blackness first started to speak up, it was hard to distinguish it from The Real Me voice.  This is the one of the most dangerous points in time for folks with depression, when you think these “outside”thoughts are reasonable, when you are not able to distinguish the black from the white.  I can not stress this enough, if you find yourself in this situation talk to someone.  Trying to tackle this by yourself is stupid.  I was stupid for trying it.  Yes, I survived, but many don’t.  It is the third leading cause of death for teens behind unintentional accidents and murder LINK  And in our military, suicide now kills more soldiers than war LINK  ….or if you think USA Today is “fake news” (cough bullshit cough fuck you Trump cough), let’s just agree it’s too fucking many LINK

Through meditation, both traditional and what I call “active meditation” (which boils down to personal introspection.  Removing myself from the emotion and examining my thoughts, actions and even emotions themselves  from a logical point of view) I decided the thoughts were not my own.  They were part of the illness/injury, the crazy, and I had to figure out a way to fend them off.

I started practicing meditative visualization.  The Real Me is like a white ball of silly putty, kinda like that glob guy from Herculoids. The crazy thoughts are like a black tar that would push outward from the base of my skull.

Every time the blackness yells at me (You’re lazy!) it  grows a little bit (You are a burden to every one around you!) squeezing “The Real Me’s”  white putty ball towards my forehead (You deserve the misery you live with!) till it’s about the size of a golf ball.  And every time the blackness grows (Your parents are disappointed in you!) it yells louder (Your friends and family not only don’t respect you, they don’t even like you!) and louder (Love is for good people and YOU ARE NOT GOOD, YOU ARE AN ABOMINATION!) and it becomes more vicious the larger it gets (JUST GET IT OVER WITH ALL READY!  THIS IS AS HAPPY AS YOU WILL EVER BE, SO WHY NOT JUST EXIT NOW!).

     I studied Martial Arts when I was younger, getting my black belt at 16, so when cornered my first instinct is to fight back, and that’s what I do.  I mentally take a fighting stance. Now the white blob has a mental Warrior Ryan on the inside of it. He yells to intimidate his enemy (FUCK YOU! YOU DON’T GET TO TELL ME WHAT TO THINK ASSHOLE!), it works!  The blackness shrinks back for a moment and then I strike with a front kick (or side kick, just depends on how the blackness flinches).

      When I strike, I key-up (key-up is what the laymen thinks of as the karate “Hi ya!”) , both mentally and physically with all the force I have, my muscles all tighten at once and I grunt.  In Martial Arts the purpose of the key-up is two-fold. One, to quickly empty your lungs of any air in case of a counter attack to the solar-plexus.  Getting hit in the solar plexus while you have air in your lungs is what leads to “getting the wind knocked out of you”, which,  as you can imagine, is not good in a fight. This is most likely the origin of the “Hi-ya” fallacy, because when you exhale all at once it kinda sounds like “Hite” with a soft to non existent “T” and often times is mistaken for a grunt.   The second reason for the key-up is to focus your energy, both the inner mental/emotional/spiritual (whatever it is you call it) and your physical energy by tightening all of your muscles for just and instant as you deliver the strike.  Why am I spending so much time explaining the “key-up”?  Because the key-up is the key to the mental strike.  It’s the key-up that breaks through the inky blackness causing it to shrink back.**  

     Just like it, I am merciless.  As soon as I see it’s afraid of me I push forward with a quick combination ending in another key-up. (GOD DAMN MOTHER FUCKING BITCH, I’M GOING TO KICK YOUR ASS!…..from this point on most of the “internal verbal conversation” is just a bunch more posturing potty mouth nonsense, so I’ll let you imagine from here on out).  Once the white is about equal with the black, the fight turns into working on a heavy bag.  I beat and pummel the blackness with punch after punch till my knuckles are bloody (mental knuckles).  Each punch beats the blackness smaller and smaller, causing it to retreat back to the base of my skull.  If you’ve ever worked on a heavy bag, you know how tiring it is ,– same thing mentally.  At this point mental fortitude is the key factor in winning the fight.  Just keep punching and punching and punching.  When the black is small enough I strangle it and stuff it back into its box.  Not a literal box, that would be crazy; it’s more like a large mole at the base of my skull (a perfectly sane idea, right?).  

     So that’s how I learned to fight back my definition of  “suicidal thought,” but I have also “Thought about suicide.”.  In fact, my suicide note that I wrote in high school started out as a conscience thinking about suicide. Thinking about how sorry my girlfriend would feel for hurting me, and how maybe the world would see this tragic story of love and learn to care about one another and other such romantic nonsense.  Anytime you find yourself thinking about suicide as a sort of “revenge”, that’s “thinking about suicide”.   Thinking about suicide is just as dangerous but it can be beat with logic.  

      Luckily (?) I had this experience before the real “suicidal thoughts” came.  That’s why I was able to rationally decide after seeing the effect it had on my father that  it was something I could never do.  That no matter how heavy the weight is I am going to bear it for my friends and family.  “Never give up” has become my motto.  But seriously, talk to someone.


**Here’s a link to a short video of one of my heroes, Bruce Lee, explaining both the “make your mind like water” philosophy but also demonstrating the power of the key-up with the power of his one-inch and six-inch punches…..and you might want to stick around for the “nunchaku ping-pong” because it demonstrates his mental acuity and it kicks ass: LINK    




*Here’s my problem with Freud.  He had good ideas but was very shitting at naming things.  In case you don’t remember Freud neither did i so I wikipidiaed it and here’s my basic understanding.  The Ego which is the conscience mind.  The Id is the devil on your shoulder and primal instincts.  The Super Ego is the angel on your shoulder, the part that suggests you not steal candy from babies and then makes you feel bad if you do.  Why the fuck didn’t he just call the “devil” Ego, the “Angel” the Super Ego and the “you” the Id, like I.D. It just makes more fucking sense! And quite frankly I don’t believe that the Super Ego on the Ego are two separate things.  Fuck you Freud!  if anyone can help me make sense of this please do.  However, in his defense,

“Cocaine….it’s a hell of a drug!”                                                                                                                                                            ~D. Chappelle



Suicidal Thoughts vs Thinking about suicide pre-blog question

Before we go on, I have a serious question.

How many voices are in your head?   

I would appreciate it if everyone would ponder on that for a sec and post their answer below.  I say it’s a serious question because in my next blog, “Suicidal Thoughts vs Thinking About Suicide”, I’m basing everything off of how I think. And it’s been my experience that most folks believe that everyone thinks like they do, except crazy people…and Republicans (or Democrats, which ever makes you laugh and not hate me).  I also realize that I am human myself and prone to the same mistake and what I consider “rational thought”, may in fact be “signs of schizophrenia”.  And….I think it might be interesting to see what the answers are.*

*I fully expect a few friends to leave joke answers, you know who you are, I probably couldn’t resist myself, so by all means if you’ve got a good joke answer please leave it and then maybe leave your real answer at the end.  Thanks.