She eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak…
I’ve been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks…
I’ve been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap…
I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black. ~ Nirvana, Heart-Shaped Box
It’s no secret that I frequently lament being saddled with a depressive Pisces Ascendant, particularly on the occasions when it rears its moody head and I find myself wallowing in actual or perceived misery. That said, it would be ludicrous of me to blame every bout of melancholy solely on having a watery rising sign. But hey, it’s my pity party and I’ll cry if I want to.
Even so, I stand by my previous assertion that the zodiac sign most likely to struggle with suicidal ideations is none other than the Fishes. Furthermore, this is the sign that is one of the more susceptible to depression (obviously) as well as substance abuse. Pisces is the sign of the dreamer, the sign of shoulda – woulda – coulda, the sentimental poet, forever wishing things to be as they once were, or at least different from the way they perceive things to currently be.
I should probably point out here that I am not saying every poor bastard on the planet who has a Pisces Sun, Ascendant, or Moon is doomed to a miserable existence. What I am saying is that the rose-colored glasses through which many of these folks view the world certainly can and frequently does predispose them to issues with depressive disorders. The all-too-true story that follows is a personal example. It is also one I desperately wish had never happened for me to be able to tell it.
My younger son, a 17 year-old Taurus-Gemini cusp, was always…well…different, right from the get-go. He wasn’t reaching certain developmental milestones as expected, such as rolling over, crawling, becoming more mobile. After several months of physical exams and neurological evaluations, along with weekly in-home sessions with a pediatric physical therapist, his doctor finally declared that there was nothing physically wrong with my baby boy and “he could do these things if he wanted to, but for some reason, he doesn’t want to.” As predicted, it was as if he simply decided he wanted to one day when, a few months shy of his second birthday, he took off walking like a pro.
Over the next fourteen years, he exhibited other unusual traits as well as some turbulent emotional issues, and was at one time or another diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, ODD, IED, OCD, major childhood depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, among a plethora of additional emotional disorders identified by their initials. It wasn’t until my Taurus cusp son was approaching his sixteenth birthday that he was properly diagnosed as having Asperger syndrome (AS), which is a high functioning form of autism, and which in hindsight explained everything perfectly, right down to the developmental delays in infancy and toddlerhood. He was also re-evaluated for the conditions he’d previously been diagnosed as having…and was found not to meet the diagnostic criteria for any of them. Because there are no “blanket” medications for Asperger’s as a whole (only for individual issues that may arise because of it), for the first time in nearly eleven years, his doctor ordered him to stop all of his medications. Almost immediately, there was a significant improvement in every aspect of his life with which he had previously struggled. Although I felt vindicated and relieved that he had finally received a correct diagnosis, I was — and still am — extremely angry that because it took so long to obtain the diagnosis, my son suffered needlessly for years when he could have been being properly treated with, for example, occupational therapy. But I digress… (and this is definitely the subject of a future post.)
Anywho, “Aspies,” as they are sometimes called, are often extremely intelligent with well-above average IQs (my son’s IQ is nearly 140), possess extensive vocabulary skills, and have an uncanny ability to commit things to memory. For those of you who are unfamiliar with AS, let me try to paint you at least part of a picture. If you are a fan of the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, you no doubt know the eccentric character Sheldon Cooper (flawlessly and hilariously portrayed by Jim Parsons). Sheldon is a Nobel prize-aspiring theoretical physicist, a socially inept genius with a memory like a steel trap who constantly reminds others of his superior intelligence. And although the show’s creators deny the character has it, Sheldon Cooper exhibits some of the textbook features of AS. Even Jim Parsons has stated he believes Sheldon has AS, and other Aspies frequently recognize themselves in Sheldon as well.
During the time my Aspie son and I lived in Arkansas, he met and became instant best friends with Kevin, a Pisces not quite three months older than he, and who had shared many of the same struggles. Although my young Bull tells me he always suspected Kevin was an Aspie, in addition to Kevin “liking” some autism pages on Facebook, it was something that they never talked about; furthermore, my son never mentioned that he himself was an Aspie because “[he] didn’t feel like it was important.” And I suppose it really wasn’t. What mattered was that they each recognized a kindred spirit in the other, whatever the reason.
Again last night I had that strange dream
Where everything was exactly how it seemed
Where concerns about the world getting warmer
The people thought they were just being rewarded
For treating others as they’d like to be treated
For obeying stop signs and curing diseases
For mailing letters with the address of the sender
Now we can swim any day in November
Don’t wake me, I plan on sleeping in. ~ The Postal Service, Sleeping In
Have you ever met someone and just clicked immediately, as though you had known each other forever? Well, that was how it was with these two. When they weren’t together in school, they were laughing and chatting via headsets as they played Xbox Live, texting or talking on the phone, Facebooking, or hanging out on weekends, almost exclusively at the house in which Kevin lived with his aunt. And when we moved out-of-state last summer, the miles that now separated these kindred spirits mattered not; they remained every bit as close as they had been since day one. The all-night Xbox Live marathons continued, as did the texting, the phone calls, and the Facebooking, literally on a daily basis. More recently, they had begun to discuss the idea of becoming roommates after their eighteenth birthdays next year. They considered relocating to Oklahoma or Kansas to do the roomie thing, or perhaps the possibility of Kevin heading out to Arizona where my teenage Bull currently resides.
This 17 year-old Piscean, in my opinion, was probably somewhat misunderstood by those who hadn’t taken the time to really know him. Not unlike my own son, he had a wicked, albeit dark sense of humor, which many people weren’t always sure how to take. He was also extraordinarily intelligent with a well-above average IQ. On the few occasions I met him, he struck me as being remarkably similar to my own son, which is probably why I liked him. Kevin thrived on attention, even if it was for something negative. Like my teenage Bull, he too had had a few skirmishes with the law and subsequently found himself on probation. Additionally, like my son, he clearly enjoyed saying things for shock value, to get a reaction.
Tragically, I can’t help but wonder if this was at least partly the reason that no one responded — and one person actually “liked” it — when this young Pisces posted a suicide note on his Facebook page.
If there’s anything I am capable of understanding, it’s how someone can get into the mindframe where dying sounds like a great idea. I’m no stranger to suicidal ideations; I’ve been there myself…many times. Fortunately, it’s been quite some time since I last seriously considered or even flirted with the notion of closing my eyes in eternal slumber. What I can’t seem to grasp, however, is how or why someone would deliberately choose a painful, prolonged, agonizing method in which to exit their life. Intense hatred of oneself? Seems obvious, but surely there’s more to it than that…right?
Or, maybe there isn’t. Maybe the reason really is that simple…so deceptively simple we look right past it.
A look through this troubled teenage Piscean’s Facebook timeline reveals a glimpse into at least a snippet of what was going through his
head in the months, days, hours, even minutes before he took deliberate action to bring about his own demise. There are posts, pictures, and videos (mostly shared, not original) that are thought-provoking, nonsensical, hilarious, spot-on observant, disgusting, intelligent, offensive, laugh-out-loud funny, and somewhat disturbing, yet they are all intriguing when you consider the frame of mind of the individual who posted them.
There are so many more. Entirely too many to even think about sharing all of them, or even most of them. But this is just a sampling. This sharp, quick-witted Piscean definitely had a sense of humor.
One of the last images Kevin uploaded to his timeline is one that hopefully won’t haunt my grieving Taurus son for the rest of his days. It is a screenshot of an undated chat conversation between the two of them, in which he tagged my Aspie Bull, posted at 8am CDT on the day of his death. As you can see, Kevin states, “I’m leaving.” And…he did. But not before crafting at least two suicide notes: a wistful, heartfelt yet brief message which he sent privately to my son, wishing him all the best in life and telling my son he loved him, and a more angst-filled second one announcing his intentions to Facebook.
This horrific declaration was posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 12:22pm CDT.
Sadly, this time it wasn’t solely for shock value. After posting this bitter letter to the world at large, 17 year-old Kevin did exactly what he stated he would do. He doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire outside his grandmother’s home. He was rushed to the children’s burn center, with burns covering 99% of his body.
Kevin passed away at 11:20pm CDT that evening, surrounded by his devastated family including his father, stepmother, stepsister and stepbrother in-law, and the grief-stricken grandmother at whose home it all took place.
Suicides by burning, or self-immolation, while common in countries such as India and Afghanistan, account for less than one percent of all suicides in the U.S. How does someone get to the point of such sheer desperation? What has to take place in a person’s life that is so unbearable that they find not just death, but a fiery, violent, excruciatingly painful death preferable? Why would anyone purposely choose such a torturous manner of death? Was it a big “fuck you” to the world on his way out? One final statement for shock value? A protest against what he viewed as all the wrongs in the world, as he mentioned in his post about self-immolation? To punish the folks in his life he resented? Did he simply hate himself that much? All of the above? None of the above?
By all accounts, Kevin had a loving, caring family. He frequently claimed that no one cared, that no one wanted him around…but this was certainly not the case, evidenced by the unimaginable grief, the tears shed by so many who can’t understand why he didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t believe he was truly loved and wanted. Why couldn’t, or didn’t he believe this?
Maybe Kevin hated himself so much that he didn’t believe it was possible for anyone to love or care about him, and/or perhaps he didn’t feel that he was worthy of anyone’s love. His chosen method of suicide is certainly steeped in intense self-hatred. Although the rest of us can see quite clearly that was absolutely not true, that he was worthy and he was loved, it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, whatever the reason, it was Kevin’s reality. Our perceptions are our reality.
And, just maybe, it’s not for anyone else to understand the goings-on inside the exceptional mind of this tortured Piscean soul. We can wax philosophical all day long and never will we know with 100 percent certainty why this young man with the potential to be anything, to do anything, chose to exit this life when and in the way he did.
Feelin’ all alone without a friend, you know you feel like dyin’…
Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you cryin’?
I want you to want me…
I need you to need me…
I’d love you to love me. ~ Cheap Trick (covered by Gary Jules), I Want You To Want Me
I hope and pray that he has found the peace in death which evidently eluded him during his way too brief lifetime.
Rest well, sweetie. We’ll see you on the Other Side.
I have lost the will to live…
Simply nothing more to give
There is nothing more for me…
Need the end to set me free
Things not what they used to be…
Missing one inside of me
Deathly lost, this can’t be real…
Cannot stand this hell I feel. ~ Metallica, Fade to Black
NOTE: I will be participating on behalf of Team Kevin in the 2013 Little Rock Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention on November 2. If you would like to take part, or simply make a donation (no matter how small), please visit Team Kevin’s AFSP fundraising page.