Yesterday, October 21st, I celebrated my 29th birthday, again.
It's a birthday I've celebrated before, and one that I will continue to celebrate, because I'm not done.
I've been thinking a lot this year about why I celebrate my 29th birthday, instead of my actual age. Most people -- most of my friends, included -- probably think it's because I'm vain. As a gay man, I can't age into my 30s. But that's only a part -- a very small part -- of it.
The year of my actual 29th birthday was the year of my automobile accident -- the one and only. The one that changed my life. The one that put me into a living coma, out of which I'm continuing to emerge.
That year, I survived a fatal automobile accident in Montauk. I shouldn't have survived and were it not for a good samaritan who pulled over when he saw my car go off the road, I wouldn't have survived.
I spent most of that year in hospital (including my birthday), both for my physical and mental health issues. The accident kick-started my Depression and dysthymia into high gear. I'd been suffering from both, in silence, and unbeknownst to me.
That year, my grandmother -- my surrogate mother who raised me since I was a toddler -- died, while I was in hospital. My last words to her were not kind; she was in a nursing home recovering from a slip & fall incident, and I did not agree with the facility where she was placed (King Street Nursing Home), as I considered them to be incompetent and inept, to be kind.
After my grandmother's departure from this Good Earth
, my grandfather was diagnosed with melanoma. My father got married and didn't tell me. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, for the first time. My grandfather was hospitalized with pneumonia. A friend hung herself in hospital and I was there when they discovered her body, jerking uncontrollably. Hospital Staff then tried to blame me for helping my friend commit suicide, despite my being in a wheelchair and being hospitalized for depression and suicide myself.
I discovered the failings of our medical professions, both with respect physical and mental health. I asked for bereavement counseling after the accident, after my grandmother passed, and after my friend took her life. I never received it.
I went from being affluent to having nothing. $250,000 in savings (including retirement) wiped out by medical bills. Years later, I would lose what little I was able to retain and be forced onto the streets and, at one point, left with virtually only the clothes on my back. But I digress....
I never had a chance to heal from the machine-gun emotional trauma I experienced that year.
The last man I ever loved also left this earth around the same time my grandmother passed on and transformed her energy, although I didn't find out about it until a few years later.
The year of my 29th birthday, I spent the entire day crying, in tears. And no one could understand why. The medical professionals attending to my mental health care didn't have the time to talk with me, to help me understand what was going on in my life--to help me adjust to the limitations that were placed upon me, both physically and psychologically.
I needed to be in a place where I was insulated, protected from the harsh realities of life. But they soon threw me out of there, declaring that my desire to end my life wasn't serious. It was; I was just so doped up on painkillers, I couldn't work out the plans correctly. And if I weren't doped up on all the painkillers, I would have been screaming in agony from the physical pains as my body did its best to mend itself and, in the process, regain the 100+ pounds I'd lost at university.
And so, I celebrated my 29th birthday (my real one) in tears of agonizing pain--deep, profound, agonizing physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual pain.
I still feel like I'm turning 29.
And I will continue to celebrate my 29th birthday, until I actually have one to celebrate.
Happy Birthday to me. Right...Cheers.
Labels: Mental Health, Personal