~Black Lantern mantra~
Start with the scariest subject first.
Let us begin with a brief explanation of the Black Lantern. It originates with the story line done by Geoff Johns entitled Blackest Night. In this story arc, there is a prophecy of a war of the light. The emotional spectrum will break out from just the green and yellow lantern and spread across the universe. This will signal the arrival of the darkest night. What this is, the guardians do not know but strive to prevent.
The Blackest Night is the rise of the Black Lanterns which represent death. The rings search out the dead and resurrect them to spread death and despair throughout the universe. This is all orchestrated by the demon, Neron. He grew tired of the heroes of the universe constantly cheating death and created an army to correct this mistake. His army was spearheaded by Blackhand, the Nihilist of the DC Universe.
Johns was tapping into both comic tropes and Freudian psychology with this story. Freud and several of his adherents posited that there was both a life force and death force that drove human behavior. These two competing drives combined with the components of the psyche to fuel a person’s striving in one direction or another. Johns also tapped into the idea of the returning hero making it the motivation behind Nero’s unleashing of the black rings upon the universe.
The problem with the Black Lantern as a starting point is that the subject of self-harm, suicide, suicidal ideation, and self-destructive behavior are taboo subjects. To discuss them opens one up to ridicule and stigma. This is inappropriate and leaves people that may be on the edge in this arena with nowhere to turn. This exacerbates the problem. The issues that are contributing to these thoughts and feelings push people from the grey that is the world to where things are cast in stark blacks and whites. They no longer see a way of reaching out of the black and getting to some state of calm or lessening of pain.
I am one person, and I can not change the way of the world. What I can do is stand up say that it is okay to talk about these things and be role model for people who may be struggling with these issues as well as those that love them by sharing my story.
Way back in 2012, I talked about my own self-loathing, poor body image, and all encompassing loneliness. These things were very much rooted in my past. I had been born with many birth defects which required surgeries up until I was 21 to fully correct. This built up within me this self concept of being a mistake and something less than human. It would take years to realize that layered within that was the additional self hatred of being gay. In 2012, I took that step to admit to myself and then later to others I was gay. It then allowed me to begin working on those deep seated issues of feeling flawed and unlovable.
This process of reconstruction is never ending. The ideas about yourself that a person builds up over the year have inertia on their side. The effort to move them can seem herculean. When the work begins, you quickly realize that you are going to run out of energy long before you are at something you are going to call acceptable. For me recently, this was in February. I lost sight of a lot of things during this month.
I had been pushing pretty hard on getting outside of my comfort zone. I am a shy person and not very good at this meeting people thing either. I had begun going out to Bear Dinners here in my home town. In addition, I had been lucky to make friends at these events and was invited to parties and other gatherings.
It was super great and I was non-stop pushing forward on things for me that had been fallow for such a long time.
This is where the forgetting begins.
I mentioned I am shy but I am also an introvert. It takes immense energy for me to do these things. I was bound and determined that I wasn’t going to stop. It was as if a desperate drive had taken over. This was what I wanted and if I stopped now I would lose all progress.
Life is Nintendo hard you know.
This progress was not without failures and struggles. Actually, there were lots of both as I had few skills in the relationship building arena outside of clinical ones. So every three steps forward were accompanied with one or two back. I would attempt to retreat and to recover and feel that fear of loneliness and loss and hop right back in without having recovered.
February turned into the perfect storm.
I did several big things that I had not done and the failures were spectacular and public. These combined with other life events to push me near the black. To steal from Taken, I have a particular set of skills. Even when in crisis, I am assessing both myself and others. I was concerned with the point that I had reached and took action. I was quiet about it as that fear of stigma for asking for help. I didn’t tell anyone in meat space what was going on. I just made sure to keep people with me that cared.
People want to believe it is easy not to slip into these self-destructive patterns. It is a convenient fiction that we tell our self so that we feel better. The thing is that it is very easy to slip into the this space, more so for those of us in the LGBT community. Not only do we face discrimination and hatred from without, we have to some degree incorporated this loathing into ourselves and it just intensifies these feelings.
Knowing it is okay to talk about this stuff is a small step. This small step could keep someone from picking up that black ring when the white one seems so far away.
Take time to check on your friends and loved ones. You may not notice that they have slipped into the black, but that kindness may be the lifeline that pulls them back.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255