Ryan is me and I am Ryan

(Originally written August 4, 2006)

Ryan died today.

Ryan isn't my husband, a friend, an acquaintance or someone that I even care about.

But Ryan is loved by someone whom I love.

Ryan was a friend of one of my friends, Girl D. Girl D joined a "punk" band and met Ryan through it. Ryan was a drug addict and from what I understand, was also manic depressive. I just recently learned about the manic depressive part. Ryan did all sorts of drugs: meth, cocaine, heroin, you name it.

He was in and out of rehab. He was far from a "success story." He reveled in drug use, its highs and celebrated his overdoses. Apparently, one of his favorite mantras was "We don't drive sober."

Many youngsters are misled in the "punk" lifestyle. And Ryan certainly had your typical "punk" attitude. He kept a blog littered with cussing, never seemed to care about anything, railed against the government, and performed "hardcore s—." He was homeless and jobless. He worked at a record store before being fired for chronic lateness and unexcused absences. He also stole thousands of dollars in CDs. In his mind, he was invincible and every succession of OD he recovered from proved he was truly indestructible.

But I learned today that Ryan isn't Superman.

He "huffed" an aerosol can – I learned that this means you spray an aerosol can into a plastic bag and inhale its fumes – about a month ago. He had just gotten out of rehab and hadn't touched his normal drugs but was angling for a "high." He sniffed a little too much, which made him instantly collapse and fall down brain dead. His parents were left with the grueling decision on whether to pull the plug. The prognosis was grim: Even if he came out of his coma, he'd be in a permanent vegetative state.

Ryan exhibited his determination and grit to the end. His parents decided to the pull the plug and his survived for a week without life support.

His funeral was today. And Girl D is in the process of grieving for a friend she desperately reached out to but never heeded her advice — or the advice of others.

I met Ryan once.

It was only in passing. Girl D was performing in a show with him and I was there to support her. The music tried to channel Nirvana but didn't quite make it there. I ended up enduring "screamer" punk. I listened to Ryan's words, watched his actions then read his blog. He was an arrogant, selfish man. He celebrated his drug use and idolized Kurt Cobain. (Sadly, I used to as well.) He knew he'd OD and die a living legend because — yes, folks — he was that great (sarcasm). I grew to dislike Ryan and his destructive behavior.

It turns out his destructive behavior is no different than the reckless habits Girl D engages in with alcohol and sex.

It turns out their destructive behavior is no different than the reckless, impetuous behavior I engage in with depression and suicide.

And so when I criticize Ryan, I am a complete hypocrite because he is a reflection of myself. Different paths, different depressions, similar attitudes and the possible gloomy end.

Ryan is not a living legend. His death serves as a sad testament to destructive behavior and reminds me that engaging in it is thumbing my nose at the very thing that can save me.

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