Earlier this week I learned that one of my closest friends, an old roommate from college who I had many grand adventures with - most of which can never be shared publicly due to legal and moral implications (hah!) passed away in late April due to complications resulting from a gastrointestinal disorder.
So, this has been a tough week. I learned of it through email from his step dad, who's a friend as well. But as a result I became the person responsible for reaching out to much of our friend group. Old college friends (from two colleges), personal friends from other walks of life as well that I got to know over the years. Over and over I was responsible for relaying the story, for bearing the emotional brunt of their discovery of this horrible tragedy. It's been exhausting, emotionally, but also physically. I'm tired. I'm wrung out. My eyes burn. My stomach hurts.
But this isn't about my mental health. It's about his. See, what he had was treatable. I don't know exactly what medications were being prescribed to him, but as someone who's suffered from acid reflux (a version of what he suffered), I know that most of the medications are pills, and the side effects are few, if any.
But my friend wasn't one for rules and authority. He wasn't one to be told what to do. He was a self-described rock, an emotional stoic, who never showed pain, physical or emotional. In all our time together I never saw him angry, or sad, or anything but exuberant and ready to party.
He also did what so many men do when they are struggling; he kept it to himself. Even the last time we spoke, in late December, he never said a word. He'd have been very ill at that time, but he didn't mention it, didn't talk about how it was impacting him, didn't seek advice, or sympathy. He just bottled it up and kept going.
That's not good mental health. When he got sick, his immediate reaction was to ignore it, to pretend it wasn't an issue, to refuse to show weakness. He was, after all, a rock. Like so many of us, programmed to show no pain, no fear, no emotion.
And it killed him. Something that was imminently treatable took down my friend - caused him to starve himself to death in a camper in the mountains of North Carolina because his masculinity was threatened by weakness, so he did what so many of us do: pretend it didn't exist. Suffer through it in silence.
So this year, I'm riding for Jonah. I miss him. He was my friend, and this year's ride is going to be tough because he's gone.
Last word: if you're sick, emotionally, physically, spiritually, whatever - don't keep it to yourself. Help is out there.
On Sunday the 23rd of May, I'm riding in The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride with fellow men and women across the globe to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer and men's mental health on behalf of Movember.
Men die on average 6 years earlier than women and for largely preventable reasons. The number of men that are suffering is growing, and we need to do something about that. So, before I press my tweed and polish my boots, I'm asking you to join me in raising funds and awareness for these causes by donating what you can for this meaningful cause and to help the men we love, live happier and healthier lives.
Justin Gomez Tagle
Mario M Carrillo, Jr
Tara El naggar
Jose Soria Murguia
Jeanne M. Woo
From your family....because we want to keep you around in good health for a looooong time. :-)
Yup. That’s a good reason to ride.
Crush it Greene.
So happy to support such a good cause and your valiant efforts, J.
Go get em buddy! Great event and an even better cause!
Good Luck Jason and have fun on your ride. Take some pictures of your cool bike and share.
I'm so sorry for your loss. Safe travels!
go big or go home!
RIDE OR DIE!!!
Love the cause...best of luck again this year JG!
Ride well my friend. You are a true gent.
Go Jason! So proud of you doing this and stoked for the awareness you’re raising as well!