Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mad World....

To Write Love on Her Arms...February 12 - 13, 2010.

In November, we all wrote "love" on our arms.

I felt bad inasmuch as I didn't fully comprehend what the day stood for until the day was there...

And, I was left rushing to write the word "love" on my arm...

Getting people to join in my cause.

I wrote the word, but...

At first I tried it in pen, and it didn't work...

So, I traced over it in eyeliner.

That worked.

To Write Love on Her Arms Day is, without doubt, the most beautiful, simple way I have ever heard of in which to memorialize and to support those suffering depression.


Seems a taboo subject to us.

Sad fact is?

It shouldn't be.

I could tell you a story about, just over a year ago, when my own depression had sunk me farther than I ever wanted to go.

In a split second, I made a decision that could have ended my children's lives; my friend's lives'; my family's lives...

And, friends, at the split second I was making that decision, I was so full of pain, I didn't care...

I just wanted the pain to stop...

Even if it meant my own life would...


I had a friend who fretted...

Called me, without ceasing...

Until he was sure the danger had passed.

I'm happy to say, I made it.

My past mistakes never to be repeated.

My friend?

Not so much.

I had coined him from the second I met him...

Because "crazy" knows "crazy", right?

Our love for one another grew.

He identified weakness in me that I identified in him...

The difference?

He was able to call me out, whereas, try as I may, I could never call him out.

And, call for him, I did...

Until his last breath.

I called for him.

It was to no avail.

His pain was more than I could atone for, and more than he could bear.

Since, July, I have grieved...

I have cried...

I have hurt...

I have cried for him...

I have cried for me...

I have cried for this world...

A world that was cheated of his goodness; his intelligence; his wit.

It's a very, very mad world.

I KNEW that boy...

Inside out, backward and forward...

And, like all who really knew him, I KNEW it was coming...

I was powerless to stop it.

No one could have stopped it.

His pain was just that intense.

He needed it to stop.

He stopped it.

I wish I had known then what I know now...

But I didn't.

I can't change July, but hopefully...

I CAN change the future.

As ever, he continues teaching...

Continues loving...

Continues his march.

It's in me...

It's in you...

It's in all of us that loved him and could not change things for him.

It's in all of us that face the day with renewed spirit and decide to listen...

They are speaking to us, friends...

Their words are unspoken, but their silence says it all.

I WILL stand up and speak for those who can't find their voice...

They have no reason to be ashamed...

Illness is illness, and, honestly, I don't believe anyone blames a cancer patient...


It's not a death sentence.

It's simply a diagnosis.

In this mad world.

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  1. Let me preface what I'm about to say by saying I love you...and God knows I loved him. As you said "crazy knows crazy" and he and I also "saw" each other.
    I hate this writing love on her arms thing. I hate it because it represents what I see as a terrible symptom...a barrier to real help. Write it on your arms, post it on the internet, send it out in a secret message to the universe...NO. The message I want to scream from the roof tops is this: GET REAL HELP. The internet is full of people trying to work out their depression issues, people crying for help, like he was, in his own way. I don't want them writing love on their arms and retreating back to the closet with their laptops.
    I don't have a real answer. I get that a gesture that says you care is something and maybe that's better than the nothing I have to offer but what I want is a real way to help people from behind this screen...and I don't know what it is. Until I sort it out I'm still just angry and far more inclined to write "fuck you" on my arms than "love".

  2. Oh, honey, I'm so sorry you feel that way. I can only imagine what a person suffering from depression would feel to read those two words you say than the one word, "love".

    I will tell you this: I think if my friend had seen the word "love" more than he'd seen the word "Crabby", he just might still be here today.

    Sorry for being, rude, Janet, but the fact is: You really didn't know him at all, even though you and countless others think you did...You didn't.

    And, in the long run, maybe all this WOULDN'T have worked for him, but if you knew him at all, you'd know that if he thought it would work for one other person, you'd know he'd be supporting it with all that was in him.

    Perhaps we could change our negative vibes for something more positive...If only for one day.

  3. thank you pam... i forgot, and forgot to tell him more: it will all be ok soon. it always is. it's a beautiful world. i hate when i forget...

  4. We all have our struggles, my sweet Angel. All of us. NONE of us are alone. Ever.

  5. Sorry Pam, all I was saying is that if I thought for one second I could help one person by writing the number for the crisis hotline on my arms it would be the only image you would ever see of me on the internet. And, no, you're right. I didn't know him. I still have a right to feel every bit of anger and frustration at a disease that has claimed far too many people I care about.

  6. I know, Janet, and I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that, but let me pose this question to you:

    What does sitting there angry do that reaching out doesn't do?

    Am I angry that he's gone?

    Oh, my God, YES!

    Am I angry that he'd been in treatment for years and it didn't help him?

    Oh, my God, YES!

    Am I angry that every day I wake up, and with every sunrise, I lose him all over again, like it's just happening for the first time?

    Oh, my God, YES!

    The fact is, my anger gets me nowhere. Only by reaching out do I feel I am effecting change. It may be small and trivial to some, but to him, I KNOW he thinks it makes a difference.

    And, in the end, all I can measure myself by is what I think he'd measure me by, because in the end, that is really all that matters to me.

    He was my whole heart, and he's gone. I'm left to do what I think he'd expect of me. My mission, at this point, is to make him proud and to carry his flag.

    As long as I live, he lives.

    Nothing more.

  7. It is an illness we all have in common and have had overtake our lives at one point or another. We can all relate to your beautiful tribute. I know we all have our own regrets when it comes to him. I know I have mine. I love what you wrote. He does continue to influence us everyday. Love Sweetexaschica

  8. OMG, did he have some fun with you, sis? Every minute of every day, I miss him. It just won't stop. Ever.

  9. Everytime I think of him I feel a great sadness. I see you and Di and others continuing to post on his page and I'm SO SAD! I'm totally seeing your point with everyone calling him Crabby. I know that was the persona he wanted all of us to see. Unfortunately we all fed into it. Not enough of us were allowed past Crabby to see Will. I wasn't lucky enough to really know him...just lucky enough to know that he was a truly caring and loyal friend. Many times when I sent him my little black hearts it was half to show him I KNEW and half to tease him because he hated them... but maybe he didn't really, yanno? I love you... YOU are never alone.

  10. One of the most dangerous things about depression and mental illness is the isolation one feels living under the weight of shame and stigma and the hoplessness of trying to fit into a world that most days doesn't seem to notice or care.

    As much as I believe in and support crisis hotlines, to my mind the world "LOVE" written on the arms of countless people who care, has the potential to break into the isolation even if just for a day.

    Thoughts of overwhelming despair are transient - meaning they can change from moment to moment.

    Will we be able to stop every single person from stepping over the abyss? No. But I believe with all my heart that bringing these highly stigmatized subjects out into the light of day and COVERING them with love can't hurt.

    To step into the light and away from the computer isn't a simple equation. For some people, the computer is a life line. Instead of offering "pull up your socks statements" we need, instead to look at what is, and offer up as much empathy, love, and support as we can in whatever venue possible.

    I see writing love on all of our arms as one very powerful way to do this.

    My two cents.


  11. PS...

    I loved that man with all my heart.

  12. Crabby was a little him...The part that was assertive and told people just what the thought...The cruel part? No. That was the part that, I believe, did him in.

    That boy didn't have a cruel bone in his body.

    He was the most kind, my genuine, most giving person I have ever, or will I ever, know...

    My boy was innocent; he was giving; he BELIEVED in a better way.

    You all saw that. I KNOW you did.

    I truly didn't mean any offense by what I said about not knowing him. There are some of us that just knew him in a different light...And, THAT light is what we loved...

    It's all good, Mags. Really.

    At the end of the day, we all loved him, and he is gone, and we are all struggling to find a way to deal with it.

    BUT....Because of him....We do it TOGETHER.

    In his HONOUR. (Notice that Canadian spelling?)

  13. And ppss...

    This was a beautiful blog.

    I love you Pam.

  14. I know that my computer was a lifeline. When I divorced nearly 4 years ago, I left my previous life behind. All the friends we had were his friends. I didn't have a job and became VERY depressed. I was working with a bunch of teenagers at The Gap and was feeling TOTALLY alienated. Someone suggested that I get a MySpace and try to find old friends. It changed my life and really gave me something to live for. As horrible as it sounds, there was a point where I even believed that my children would be fine without me. I found a group of friends who have been nothing but supportive and given me fantastic advice.

    Unfortunately, his loss gave me you. I will always be grateful.


  15. Mave, I seriously didn't mean turning this into a memorial service...

    But, when we're talking about Swiller....Right?

    Know what I think?

    I think he thought there was compassion and understanding and help for EVERYONE...except himself...

    I think his biggest problem was that he was far more intelligent than anyone he encountered, and therefore, was able to "sneak through".

    I think he called bullshit where he saw bullshit and extended a hand of hope where he saw it was genuinely needed.

    I think that had he have had hope...even if for that split second when he made that decision...his decision may have been different.

    I think that he is gone, and we will all hurt forever, and there will never be a day when we don't literally feel PAIN because he's gone.

    I think that the best way we can honor him now is to carry his torch, because he no longer can...

    I think we must forge and believe in his stead...

    I think we must be his eyes and ears, because he would have expected that of us...

    And, at the end of the day, I am more honored to carry that for him than anything I have ever imagined...

    I am NOT worthy.

    P.S. I adored that boy, too. He was the best.

  16. And, to Maggie...


    He was my lifeline, too, when the world was its darkest.

    I only wish I could have been that for him.

    <3 you.

  17. You never know what it means to have first class bullshit detector on your side until he's gone.

    I LOVE what you wrote Pam.

  18. He WAS the best, wasn't he? You just made me crack up through the tears. I really loved him. I hope he knows that.

  19. "I will tell you this: I think if my friend had seen the word "love" more than he'd seen the word "Crabby", he just might still be here today."

    Pam, I think this is absolutely true. I think that, although he created Crabby, when it became the alter ego that it became, in the end, he HATED Crabby. He hated the things he said as Crabby, the way he made others feel, the pain he inspired, and it made his hatred for himself grow. I wish, wish, wish "Crabby" had never existed.

    But if he hadn't, I wouldn't have gotten to know Will, I think.

    That would have just been dreadful.

    I will also say that our words DO have an effect on others. When I admitted I am alcoholic, it brought people into my life who all not only supported my problem, but who admitted that they suffered from similar problems. If "I am an alcoholic" can bring people together, united in a common problem, I absolutely believe that the word love, when written on an arm, and with the reason it is there, can, as well.

    I agree with what has been said before . . . perhaps the word "love" on our arms wouldn't have made a difference to Crabby. The sadness we have to know is that we'll never know. But if I see another friend exhibit the same symptoms that I saw in him, I will write, I will ask them what is going on, I will let them know I am thinking of them and that I care for them, and I will write the word "love" on my arm, just in case everything else fails.

    Because then I think I could say, "I did everything I could." And isn't that better and doesn't it provide more relief for those left behind? Those doubts about what we could have done and didn't are HORRIBLE.

    Maybe it is a self-preservation mechanism to help ourselves deal with the guilt while reaching out to others who might suffer.

    I don't have the answers.

    But I miss him, so much, and I WISH he could see all the good things in life that DO exist if you can get through the depression or (for me) the alcohol to see what is on the other side.

    It's a beautiful post, Pam. Thank you for sharing it.

  20. Sorry, it took me so long to get here. Pam this was beautiful as always- you have been such an amazing legacy for him.

    As far as writing Love- I happened to see it on someone's arm in November- I instantly knew that either she supported the cause or she also suffered from depression. She was a nurse in the doctor's office and I mentioned it to her- we shared a bond that both of use knew and understood.

    So yes, if writing it on someone's arm helps someone, I'll write it on my forehead!! And if enough people do it, we will all realize that we all need a little help and compassion. My computer and the internet was my lifeline during a time when, had it not been for worrying about how my son would make it financially, it was a real choice for me. I'm glad I got help. But I know the feeling, I can understand it in others. I know the dark cloud and the feeling that life will never, ever get better.

    So for that nurse to have it, for me to have it, for someone in the grocery store- we are no longer strangers- we all connect, we understand and we can at least smile from across the room that we are doing something positive for each other by writing 4 simple letters.

    Love you, Pam <3

  21. Caroline, I remember watching your relationship bloom. I was on the sidelines, but he kept me informed. He so seriously respected you...For your courage, for your intelligence, for your ability to tell him to kiss your ass!!!

    He loved you. I remember when he told me you were having a baby. He was so proud. He really was. Of course, he told me, "Now, I guess she'll write about morning sickness, but it's better than Al Gore anyday."


    I never brought up your battle with alcohol, although he had told me about it. He was so very proud of you for standing up and reaching out. He was so very, very proud.

    Yes. If one person will know the difference, I'll write "love" on my arms, shoulders, backside and fingers...I don't care.

    All I know is that we have all suffered, and what we feel cannot equal the pain of his family, and if by one word being written on my wrist just MIGHT change things for just ONE person, I'll do it. He'd expect no less, right?

    <3 you, Caroline. I really, really do.

    Thank you for continuing to carry his torch...

  22. It's a simple word, love...

    That one word has the power to unite and the power to separate...

    For one day, we use it all in love and the hope that our message reaches those that need it most.

    If I only had the power to go back, I'd change everything. He'd still be here, and everyone's worlds would be right and good and warm...

    I'd have not missed him over Christmas, and we'd, no doubt, be laughing over this ridiculous weather.

    How I wish I could have changed it, Susan.

    I can't.

    Like I said earlier, if writing "love" on my arm will spread the message to just ONE, our mission is accomplished.

    No one should suffer alone. No one...

    Not my best friend...

    Not my worst enemy...

    Not a total stranger.

    We are better than that.

    "LOVE" is the movement, rigt?

  23. Hey -- Katrina here. I don't have a page on this site.....

    What I needed to share about the deepest parts of this I did in a private message via Facebook, but I have to chime in on Will.

    I don't think there's too many days that go by that I don't think of him. I only wish I'd have seen what you saw, Pam. I was there once. Where he was. Someone 'caught' me before a tragedy could be fulfilled. Breaks my heart over Will. Seriously. I'll go to bed tonight with him on my mind.

  24. Kat, ALWAYS keep him close to your heart. I have no doubt he watches us and protects us. That is all he EVER wanted to do.

    I read you note. Thank you. You have no idea what it means to me for you to share. We will talk more.

    My worry is this: What about those that don't have the tremendous extended family he did to keep them going? Who cares or cries for them? That thought breaks my heart. It really does.

  25. Pam, HA, the joke was on him. I never HAD morning sickness!!!

  26. Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!! LOVE IT!!!

  27. I never knew Will other than Crabby who made irreverent, and often funny comments on blogs I read, and a my space friend who would come and go from my list of friends.

    But, I lost a cousin to suicide and clinical depression runs in my family.

    I missed the event in November. But, I'll be wearing "love" on my arm February 12th. I'll be posting about it on the social work internet bulletin board at work also...

  28. So moving. Pam. And so well said. I hav e seen depression from both sides and it is frightening how insurmountable it can seem. I wonder if men tend to feel an obligation to "man up" and not seek help more than women do. So true, those who have fallen are still teaching us and it is important to listen.

  29. Omg, this made me cry! Will was such an amazing man! Always encouraging, always with a nice word to say (to me). His visits on my profile always made me smile. I wish he knew how much he was loved and how much he is missed. Thank you for this. <3

    V. Burhenn

  30. Hi Pam. I didn't know Will except as Crabby on My Space. He was always appearing and disappearing from my friends list. The last time he was deleted, I never got him back. I didn't know what had happened until yesterday. I'm so sorry. I had a a hard bout with depression a couple of years ago when my wife passed away. I didn't have anybody here in my "real" life to turn to. But fortunatley for me, I did have 2 My Space friends that helped me. Katrina was a huge part of getting me through it. She saved my life and I will always be in her debt. I still have some problems, some days are hard to make it through, but somehow, I seem to be able to do it. I don't know what else to say.

  31. Thank you for sharing To Write Love On Her Arms. It is a great organization, and means much more then just a word on your arm. If even one person that is struggling sees it posted or reads the words on your arm and asks about it, it is more then worth it! It won't save everyone, but it could save someone. Just knowing they are not alone, that others share the same feelings they do can make a world of difference to some. Nobody should ever feel alone. Everyone needs to know that there is ALWAYS someone who loves them and needs them to stay with them.

    I have been on every side of depression possible. I have suffered it. I do suffer it. I lost my brother to it. It is an illness that most feel they can not talk about.

    Will, Swiller, Crabby, was my brother. I have seen my brother discussed all over the Internet, by people that loved him, people that knew him, people that thought they knew him and people that never knew him at all. I have read countless stories on how he helped others. I have been silent through most of it. This I felt I had to comment on. I means a lot to me.

    My brother was loved. He had a group of amazing people on the Internet that loved and supported him. He had people in his life at home that loved and supported him. He had "real" help from professionals. None of it was able to keep him here with us.

    I feel his story, my story, and the stories of those that loved him most needs to be told. I think that one of the only things that could have possibly changed his mind would have been knowing the pain that the people he loved most are going through. I think he thought he could disappear, that everyone left behind would get over it. That he would be forgotten. He will never be forgotten by those that love him. He is in our hearts everyday.

    If one person can be helped I want to help them.

  32. There is not a second of every day that goes by, my friend, that I don't think of you and your family. I cannot imagine what it is that you must live with...

    I know what I feel, and it is beyond measure...

    I call him my "brother", and yet, he was, indeed, your brother.

    My heart aches for you...for your daughter...for your mother...for your family...

    Because, you see, I "knew" you all.

    I knew you, because you meant everything to him.

    You did. I hope you know that.

    I remember when I first met you. I was so very nervous at the prospect of speaking with you, because I really didn't know how you would accept me.

    I loved him, but I didn't know if you would really know that.

    Without question, you accepted me.

    He did that very same thing.

    Two hearts that are as one.

    I can tell you this: You are the heart of your brother.

    I know your road was never easy, and I know at times you had to want to turn away...and, you didn't.

    He knew that about you. He may never have told you, but I know he knew that you would never turn on him.

    He knew it.

    I am so grateful you accepted me into your world. Ever so grateful. You didn't have to do it, but you did.

    It is for you I will write "love" on my arm...

    You, sweet one, are the survivor.

    I will forever protect and defend you...

    I will forever love you.

    We share a bond...

    Allbeit a different one...

    But our souls are bound.

    I am so very, very proud to be bound in spirit with you.

    I can think of no cause more noble to me.

    You just know that so many of us are on your side...

    Together. Forever. For just one cause.


    I will write it on my arm, and I'll be proud.

    You are so amazing to me.

    Thank you. I know this wasn't easy for you.

    Thank you so very, very much.

  33. I sort of understand the anger that the first post articulated... it is a helplessness... a frustration... I share it, and yet, I understand the need to go against the grain -fight the helplessness and try to convert that emotion to some type of action... I get it. All of it.

    I have suffered with and been treated for depression since I was a child... I am almost 40... the isolation..the darkness...and the pain of it all- well the best writer in the world cannot recreate the depth of pain with mere words... I didnt know this friend as well as many...I surely was fortunate to have the few years that I did.. I feel so much responsibility, sadness, grief...
    I too miss him every day as I drive in my car... or log onto the computer...or try to fall asleep... I miss him and I relate to him all in one fell swoop... effer.

    and yet, I know he is "out there/up there" shouting... ""Shut up -It's WAY better here -I'm GOOD -I'm HAPPY -I LOVE MYSELF -AND I'm SORRY I hurt you all ... my belief system was altered by this rotten disease and I thought I was doing you all a favor -but I know I was wrong now -and I'm sorry for the hole I left... but MAN I am SO okay now and they LOVE me here- as did you.. .Now I can actually FEEL it -before I could give it

    but I couldnt receive it -and now..
    I FEEL it and I feel it and I feel it.. your love reaches me as it could not when I was among you.

    Crabby is gone.
    Will Driscoll lives on.

    But up here? - they call me Big Daddy Love and I got more-friends-followers and feelings than Adrienne or Tequila can even fathom. Ha! I miss hanging out with you guys, but I dont miss the hurt and I don't miss having to hide behind myself in order to protect you - I love you and I can now finally say that without any hesitation, awkwardness, sarcasm or fear. I love you and thank you for loving me and please know -I am SO happy and my blogging has improved tremendously."

    Im sorry to all who live inside the vacuum of this disease. Take my hand.

  34. It is wrong that I giggled at the thought of what he'd have to say about Tila today???

    He got the last laugh...

    He laughs loudest.

    Thank you.

    I'll take your hand. Any day.