Tyler Southern

Above is an interview with Tyler and his family discussing HomesForTroops.org. It’s an organization that helps wounded veterans live full lives by customizing homes to their new physical needs.

Below is a link to the aol.com video update on Tyler’s condition. Watch both. They’re informative and inspiring.

http://video.aol.com/aolvideo/aol-video/severely-wounded-tyler-southern/1207107768001

You all have to watch this video. This marine is an absolute cutie puh-tutie HOT HOT HOT first off and secondly, his story serves as a good swift kick in the ass.
This young man, Tyler Southern, lost BOTH his legs, one arm with the other arm significantly mangled, in battle and he sits in front of the video cameras and exercises at the gym with swagger and joy.

WHAT?!

I will never complain again.

Okay, I probably will but I swear I’ll think of him every time I do and shut up might quick!
Look at the boy! He’s perpetually happy and energized! HE LOST THREE LIMBS for God sake.
Amazing. And inspiring. You go boy.

If anything I think that a case like Tyler’s clearly demonstrates that things like depression and other mental illnesses are TRULY diseases that corrode a person from the inside out. If a human being can endure what he has and still smile and NOT want to die then there has to be a chemical make up that is just thoroughly adjusted and well rounded despite what occurs in the individuals life. I mean, getting blown up, to me, would be a pretty good reason to feel down, but not this kid. He’s rockin’ out life by the bucket full with no intention of stopping. This behavior is a DIRECT contrast to that of a teenager or adult that takes their own life because of the way they are treated by their piers, family, etc. and it’s this contrast that concerns me.

Many people who watch this video would turn around and throw tomatoes at those who would kill themselves over being bullied or abused because what are those things, really, in comparison to getting blown up?

That’s the first thing I did when I read this article. I turned on myself and said “girl, you better shut your trap from now on” when really, I’m just hurting myself more. Mental illness is a different kind of “blown up”. Its a different kind of attack; and those of us with the ability to fall that low really do have a completely different make up then that of this young man. Tyler may have to struggle physically for the rest of his life, but because his brain fires the right chemicals at the right times he will always be free of those emotional attacks brought about by chemicals that miss fire, like the ones that make me tick everyday. 
And I herald Tyler as an inspiration; he’s nothing less then motivation personified. And motivation is just what somebody with my kind of miss fires needs. Because my prosthetics are the happy kind, the emotional kind, the encouragement kind. They’re what I need coming from outside sources because they are what I lack deep within. I still have my legs and arms, but, whether it was a specific event, a series of events, strictly my chemical make-up or (and this is most likely) a combination of the three, I need help when it comes to feeling good about myself. Somebody loving me is my prosthetic. Of course I’m sure Tyler can relate just a little. Finding that lovely girl that loved him for himself was, I have no doubt, just as helpful, if not more so, then those prosthetic legs. He’s got a reason to live. He’s got a reason to keep getting better. And because of the way he is emotionally and psychologically composed he probably had a reason in him before he met his wife. But other’s, those of us with mental illnesses, do not have that same composition. Believe me I think we all wish we did. But we don’t. So we need that external support, loving us, and motivating us, before we can begin to do it for ourselves. And that doesn’t make us weak. It makes us no weaker then Tyler before he put on those prosthetic limbs. He could want to run and walk and jump again but he needed that outside help to do it. I feel like it’s a fair physical metaphor for what I go through everyday in order to get myself better. How much help an extended hand, an open heart, a listening ear gives to me is as valuable and necessary as those prosthetic legs. And his work out everyday is just the same as my journalling everyday, my exercise, my therapy and my talks with friends to help me work out all the cramps and weak points in my brain. And maybe even medication somewhere down the road.

The greatest part about stories like these is that they serve as those helping hands on days where a therapist or even a friend isn’t immediately available. Tyler inspired me today to not be ashamed of the fact that I have a mental illness and to start changing my attitude toward the ones I have. Did you know that still, years after my Tourette’s and OCD diagnosis I still DO NOT put down on medical forms for school etc., that I have any illnesses, disorders or disabilities? My God, that would be like Tyler wearing a suit, walking through a mental detector at the airport on his way to his honeymoon and wondering why the hell alarms just started going off. Instead I keep beating myself down, talking myself down “It’s not a DISEASE, it’s NOTHING, you aren’t disabled, get over yourself”. This kind of self talk is probably part of the disease. It’s certainly part of depression. And I’ve known I suffered from that for many years as well. So why can’t I just write it down and let people know that I have these things?

1.) Primarily because I have not owned my condition the way I should. And in truth this is detrimental for mental illness because I am the only one that can access the parts of me that need to be accessed for my healing. It’s self deprecating and I have to stop. I MUST get on my own side or I’ll be hurting myself. It would be like Tyler refusing the prosthetics. But he didn’t did he? NO! He grabbed for them. He’s psyched about them. And that’s how I must start behaving.

2.) There is a VERY real stigma still attached to mental illness. Writing down that you lost your legs in battle is a badge of honor. Writing down that you suffered mental trauma is a disgrace. People just assume you’re weak. It happens with soldiers who suffer from PTSD too. They’ll be willing to accept treatment for their physical injury but not willing to admit to the emotional anguish they’re suffering in silence. I believe to this day PTSD is not recognized as a disability for veterans and soldiers. We all still have a LONG way to go with regards to our views on mental illnesses.

For today however, I am happy I got to share in this young man’s story because he is truly a motivational force. He inspires me and reminds me if not to be happy at least what it looks like and that its a real thing. Sometimes I can forget that. It’s because I suffer from a mental illness called depression. It skews many of my perspectives in directions that I wish they wouldn’t go. So does my OCD. Being aware of it helps me redirect those perspectives. If I ignore them, I have no chance of staying on a positive track. Being inspired by people like Tyler feeds my desire to remain aware and not give up.

That’s why I journal the way I do. Sharing stories with others helps us be real to each other, and for our problems, even demons, to be more palpable to each other. A willingness to listen to each other and sympathize with the experiences of others helps us become better people and it can expose us to priceless information that can help us improve our lives.

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