Monday, January 13, 2020

Donny Hathaway

Donny Edward Hathaway was an American jazz, blues, soul and gospel singer, songwriter, arranger and pianist. Hathaway signed with Atlantic Records in 1969 and with his first single for the Atco label, "The Ghetto", in early 1970, Rolling Stone magazine "marked him as a major new force in soul music." He often collaborated with Roberta Flack. His song "Where Is the Love" won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 1973. At the height of his career 

Hathaway was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was known to not take his prescribed medication regularly enough to properly control his symptoms. On January 13, 1979, Donny Hathaway died by suicide.  He was thirty three years old.

Donny Hathaway 
October 1, 1945 – January 13, 1979

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Spalding Gray

Spalding Rockwell Gray was an American actor and writer. He is best known for the autobiographical monologues that he wrote and performed for the theater in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as for his film adaptations of these works. He also starred in several of these films.

Gray achieved renown for his monologue Swimming to Cambodia, which he adapted as a 1987 film in which he starred; it was directed by Jonathan Demme. Other of his monologues which Gray adapted for film were Monster in a Box (1991), directed by Nick Broomfield, and Gray's Anatomy (1996), directed by Steven Soderbergh.

Gray struggled with a lifelong depression and in 2001 he suffered injuries in a car accident that left him further distressed. On January 11, 2004, Spalding Gray died by suicide. He was sixty two years old.

Spalding Rockwell Gray 
June 5, 1941 – January 11, 2004

Friday, January 10, 2020

So Incredibly Loved

Yesterday was a hard day. This past holiday season was difficult. Last fall was really shitty. Most of 2019 was beyond heartbreaking. And, I won't even bother backtracking from there.

Here is an understatement: I'm tired.

I am tired of grief and loss. I am tired of trying to figure out how to lift my head and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I am tired of the impact that eating disorders and PTSD and mental illness have had on my life. I am tired of trying to protect people from my illnesses, and I am tired of failing at that spectacularly.

The past few months, I have been consumed by the mistakes I've made in my life. In particular, I've been desolate over mistakes that I've made more recently. As people sometimes do when they are struggling - I have lashed out at the people who were the closest to me.

Struggling in friendships always returns me to the same agony. It seems a ridiculous leap, but I end up questioning whether I am responsible for the death of people I love. The mix between interpersonal conflict, PTSD, and my own suicidality, is profound for me. I should be wearing a t-shirt that has the words "Handle With Care" printed across the front.   

So, lately I have been plagued by memories of John. Of the morning he died. Of losing a person I loved, unexpectedly and overnight. What could I have done? Surely there is something I could have done. What did I do? I am certain that I did something to start a ball rolling that stopped only with his loss.

Two days ago, I was talking to my doctor, yet again, about my certainty that I am responsible for John's death.

"Did he leave a note? Did he say that he blamed you?" my doctor asked.

"No. I was the last person he talked to. And then he sent me a text. He told me that I was an incredible person, and that he would always love me."

"Well, don't you think that if he blamed you, he would have told you?"

"I don't know. Maybe he didn't blame me. I still blame myself. I'm definitely not 'incredible' and I sure don't deserve to be loved." I said. And for me, two days ago there were no truer words than those.

So yesterday, I wanted to give up. I didn't just feel tired, I felt weak.

And then, the mail arrived.

My life has been saved over and over again by people who love me. More often than not, I haven't known how to save myself. Even now, there is a small core group of people who are making sure, every day, that I am safe. Over and over again they tell me that I am loved no matter what. That I am forgiven no matter what. And most importantly, that love and forgiveness are the cornerstones of life itself.

It's been very difficult for me to take in. There are people I've hurt and people I'm desperate to have forgive me. But whenever I step back and detach from the pain of those unresolved resentments, I land back in the place of being responsible for the death of someone I loved so much. How can I be forgiven by someone who is gone forever?

Today in the mail, I received a little blue box. It was cardboard and there was nothing written on the front. Just a mystery box with an anchor printed on the lid. It was not something I was expecting, and whoever sent it did so anonymously.

I was alone in the kitchen when I opened the box, yet I still I found myself looking around. That cliched search for an explanation. As I removed things from the box, I began to hold my breath. Every item in the box was geared toward reminding me that life was worth it. That even in the worst of times, holding on almost always means that there is more beauty in store. There were bracelets and buttons and stickers and more. There were things I could wear, things I could put on my books or binders or walls. Two wonderful posters too. You Are Not Weak, one of the posters read. There was even a deck of cards, each one printed with a different 'Reason to Live.'

And there was a long letter in the box. One paragraph in that letter stood out above the rest:

"You and I have not met, and we may never meet. I do not know the specifics of your character, of your flaws in their entire complexity, of the mettle you possess and may have already lost, or of the scars of life experience that have torn into the youth of your face. Though I long for it, I do not know your specific beauty and I have not witnessed the ugliness that has brought you to this place."

A stranger sent this to me? I couldn't fathom this fact. Someone who didn't even know me? A stranger sent me this box full of hope and love? Of course I began to think that I did not deserve this type of support, but then I read the last line of the letter.

"You deserve this intervention. You deserve to have people work hard to save you."

I would tell you that this is what brought me to tears, but I was in shock. I was overwhelmed with the timing of this box's arrival. I received it on a day when, once again, I was finding it very difficult to imagine how it is I will live through my struggles.

After I pulled all of the items out of the box, there was just one thing left. A post-it. Like the rest, it was not signed. But when I read it - that is when I cried.

I cried because I know, I must keep working on forgiving myself for having lost someone to suicide. I cried because wherever John is, he wants me to forgive myself too.

I don't know the people who sent this to me, but I am so incredibly thankful that they did. Because of this box, I was reminded that there are friends and family who need me to hold on. And just like I am always hoping for peace and healing for all who are struggling with mental illness, I was reminded there are strangers who want all those same things for me too.

And if I were to somehow manage to dismiss those facts, this one thing remains: There is an angel up there who knew exactly what to say so that I would know that he is pulling for me as well.

*** I can't express enough gratitude to 'Find Your Anchor', a non-profit that works toward suicide prevention through grassroots efforts to pass on the message that every individual deserves to stay alive. Speaking from personal experience - I can tell you that their work is important, needed, and has the potential to save lives. Click on their logo below, to learn more or to donate to this amazing cause. 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Uday Kiran

Uday Kiran was an Indian film actor, who primarily worked in the Telugu cinema. His first three films, ChitramNuvvu Nenu and Manasantha Nuvve, were successful hits, earning him the title "Hat-trick Hero". Nee Sneham film is the last hit in his career. He is the only Telugu actor to have his first four films remade into all regional languages. 
Kiran was said to have been suffering from depression. On January 5, 2015, Uday Kiran died by suicide. He was thirty three years old when he died.

Uday Kiran 
June 26, 1980 – January 5, 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A New Year.

On this, the eve of a new year, I want to offer again the words I offered two years ago on New Year's Eve. My words then, remain true today. For those of us coping with loss, I hope for us all that we can lean into the healing offered by the love that remains. You can find that post, What Matters, by clicking on the image below.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Kim Jonghyun

Kim Jong-hyun, better known as Jonghyun, was a South Korean singer-songwriter, record producer, radio host, and author. He was the main vocalist of the South Korean boy band Shinee, and participated in S.M. Entertainment's project group S.M. The Ballad.
Jonghyun began a solo career in January, 2015 with his first extended play album, Base. On September 17, 2015 Jonghyun released a compilation album, Story Op.1. His debut studio album She Is was released on May 24, 2016, followed by his second compilation album, Story Op.2 on April 24, 2017. 
Johghyun complained about the extreme pressure he had to deal, working in the entertainment industry. In a note he left when he died, he said that he felt 'broken inside'. Kim Jonghyun died by suicide on December 18, 2017. He was 27 years old when he died.

Kim Jonghyun 
April 8, 1990 – December 18, 2017

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Kim Ji-hoon

Kim Ji-hoon was a South Korean singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, television presenter, and VJ. He is best known as the lead singer of Two Two and lead singer and leader of 'Duke'. 
Later in his career Ji-hoon's sexual orientation was exploited by the media and he suffered significant professional consequences. His contract was cancelled by his management team and he was dropped from several television and advertising shows/campaigns. 
On December 12, 2013, Kim Ji-Hoon died by suicide. He was forty years old when he died.

Kim Ji-hoon 
May 5, 1973 – December 12, 2013

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Clara Bloodgood

Clara Bloodgood was an American socialite who became a successful Broadway stage actress. Married three times, she experienced success as an actress, although the last play she was in did not receive critical acclaim.

Bloodgood was not known to have a history of depression. However, she was experiencing significant anxiety over financial matters as a result opf losses she suffered in a failed business venture of her husband. 

On the evening of December 5, 1907, Bloodgood died by suicide. The reasons for her death have never been made clear. Clara Bloodgood was thirty seven years old.

Clara Bloodgood 
August 23, 1870 – December 5, 1907

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Anton Furst

Anthony Francis "Anton" Furst was a production designer who won an Academy Award for designing the gothic version of Gotham City in Tim Burton's Batman (1989).
He designed two award-winning television films, Just One Kid and It's a Lovely Day Tomorrow, for director/producer John Goldschmidt. He gained high praise for his work on Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves (1984). He went on to create convincing Vietnam War settings, without leaving England, for Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket (1987), and in 1991 designed the themes for the Planet Hollywood restaurant in New York. His final credited film was Awakenings (1990).
Furst had marital difficulties and separated from his wife and began taking Halcion, a sleeping drug that had been banned in Britain due to its possible side effects of amnesia, paranoia and depression. His drinking also became more of a problem. On November 24, 1991, Anton Furst died by suicide. He was forty seven years old.

Anthony Francis "Anton" Furst
May 5, 1944 – November 24,  1991

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Thomas Evans, Jr

Thomas Evans, Jr was an English musician and songwriter. In 1968, the Iveys were signed to the Beatles' Apple Records label. 

In November 1969, the Iveys changed their name to Badfinger, and Paul McCartney of the Beatles gave the group a boost by offering them his song "Come and Get It", which he produced for the band. It became a featured track for the film The Magic Christian, which starred Ringo Starr and Peter Sellers. Evans was chosen by McCartney to sing lead on this track. 

By the mid 1970s, Badfinger began to struggle with their success and the relationships within the band were strained. The band divided into two highly contentious competing bands and each began touring in the United States.

In 1975 Evan's friend and band mate Pete Ham died by suicide, many saying he was desolate over the issues plaguing the band.

Evans continued to try to tour with his band but continued to be impacted by the difficult breakup of the original Badfinger band.

Eight years after Ham's death, Evans himself died by suicide. Those who knew him say he never recovered from the grief over losing his friend, and he could no longer tolerate the continuing conflicts with his ex-bandmates. Thomas Evans, Jr. was thirty six years old when he died.

Thomas Evans Jr 
June 5, 1947 – November 19, 1983