We Said We’d Never Forget

I was 15 when I visited the concentration camp at Dachau in Germany.

I knew about the Holocaust of course. As much as any kid does from simply sitting through history class.

But being there? Standing in the yard in front of the barracks with such cramped bunks, imagining them filled with starving, terrorized human beings who were being persecuted for no reason beyond hate and prejudice and white man’s power… it was a lot to take in. Reading the sanitized chapters in my high school history book, even looking at the pictures on the walls, didn’t prepare me for the experience of being there.


We swore as a world we would Never Forget.

How then can we explain what is happening here in the United States? How do we explain the persecution of non-whites on a constant and increasingly brutal basis? The Supreme Court just upheld Trump’s Muslim Ban. ICE is arresting brown people trying to come to this country legally, ripping their children from them, and sending them who knows where, with no records.

Strike that, reverse it. He found the line he was seeking. Walk it back.

We must not separate children! We must reunite families!

But with no system, little record-keeping, mass chaos, what are the chances of that happening?

How many of those little girls have been trafficked already?

Where are the little girls anyway?

I read things online about how white folks can stand up and disrupt ICE officers when they board a train asking for what amounts to papers.

Arrest. Imprison. Warehouse.

Tent cities for little kids.

And we sit by, shocked, heart-broken, and somehow powerless to stop it.

We hope and pray and mobilize and hope for a big enough voter turn out in November to stop this thing, whatever this thing is.

Genocide. Quietly.

Our president calls them “Animals”.

Shades of Hitler.

How did we get here so quickly?

How is it that we seem to have forgotten?

Bootstraps and bullshit

Two celebrities have taken their own lives in the past week, and while neither death really affects me, my Facebook feed is full of posts on suicide. Hotlines, ways to reach out for help, and all types of good things, but if I see one more post about suicide being “a longterm solution to a short term problem” I am going to scream.

I was hospitalized for depression and suicidal ideation for the first time when I was 14 years old.

I will be 40 next month.

And in those years I have been hospitalized a dozen or so times in three different facilities. I have been on an extensive laundry list of medications of all types in a cookbook of combinations. I have been through a generous handful of therapist, and have a diverse and impressive list of diagnoses.

I have seriously attempted suicide three times. The last time I totaled my car and could have killed my beloved dog who was riding in the front seat.

This is not a short term problem.

Not for me.

Not for a lot of people.

Depression is an insidious disease. Mental illness is many times a lifelong struggle. And sometimes it kills you.

So if you think that depression is a choice, that people need to just pick themselves up by their bootstraps, get more exercise, think about how lucky they are, there’s the door.

That’s not how it works.

Science tells us that is not how it works.

Doctors tell us that’s not how it works.

I have fought long ugly battles for my life. I have been in ugly places.

No one, given the choice, would choose this.

So here’s to you, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, for your suffering. For all the time you spent trying. For all the days you chose to live.

I am sorry you couldn’t find a way through it. I’m sorry that sometimes, despite all the medical advances out there, sometimes the disease still wins.