A Sober Thought on Mental Health


Are you familiar with the sound of silence?

The pain associated with mental anguish in all its forms often feels unspeakable.  I’ve come to think of mental health and mental illness as two ends of a continuum on which we all find ourselves.  Our place on the continuum may shift throughout the course of our lives, and hopefully, we can become better at nurturing and supporting our mental health.  But how do we receive help when we need it?

From time immemorial there have been those who’ve sought escape through altering the chemistry of the brain.  For a time these methods seem to work and then suddenly (or gradually) they stop, leaving the mind more broken than ever.

The truth is, we could eliminate every form of mind-altering substance and still be left with people in need of help.

A friend of mine years ago gave me some excellent advice.  He said never be afraid of finding someone who might shed light on your darkness because darkness will come.

The following poem, The Suicide’s Soliloquy, was published anonymously in the The Sangamo Journal in Springfield, Illinois in 1838.

“Here where the lonely hooting owl, Sends forth his midnight moans, Fierce wolves shall o’er my carcase growl, Or buzzards pick my bones. No fellow-man shall learn my fate, Or where my ashes lie; Unless by beasts drawn round their bait, Or by the ravens’ cry. Yes! I’ve resolved the deed to do, And this the place to do it: This heart I’ll rush a dagger through, Though I in hell should rue it! Hell! What is hell to one like me Who pleasures never knew; By friends consigned to misery, By hope deserted too? To ease me of this power to think, That through my bosom raves, I’ll headlong leap from hell’s high brink, And wallow in its waves. Though devils yell, and burning chains May waken long regret; Their frightful screams, and piercing pains, Will help me to forget. Yes! I’m prepared, through endless night, To take that fiery berth! Think not with tales of hell to fright Me, who am damn’d on earth! Sweet steel! come forth from your sheath, And glist’ning, speak your powers; Rip up the organs of my breath, And draw my blood in showers! I strike! It quivers in that heart Which drives me to this end; I draw and kiss the bloody dart, My last—my only friend! “

There is wide speculation that it was Abraham Lincoln, the 16th American President, who penned this verse.  If it was Lincoln, I wonder — Who helped him find light?  Who ministered to his pain?  Who counseled his broken heart?

I like to think that Lincoln lived because someone, somewhere was familiar with the language of silence and chose sit a spell.

That we all could be so fortunate.

Just a thought…

Pat and Marsha

Copyright © 2018 Patrick J. Moriarty. All Rights Reserved.

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