Two months before Robin Williams took his life, my circle lost a dear friend to suicide. We just memorialized him this past week. Like Robin’s death, Joel Gallob’s suicide rocked us all to the core of our being. Joel was an investigative reporter, turned landscape photographer. So I am inserting some of his last photos into this heavy article about suicide in tribute to Joel and his incredible eye behind the camera.
Our friend was not rich and famous. Quite the contrary. He died homeless and broke although he kicked political ass on the Oregon coast as an investigative reporter. Like Robin Williams Joel had been deeply depressed throughout his adult life and had talked about and contemplated suicide before actually following through with a death plan.
I was one of the last people to spend quality time with Joel. He lived in our home for two months before heading out on his suicide mission. I knew him intimately for 20 years, and yet sadly, I knew very little about what was happening in his mind.
By splicing together bits and pieces of information from Joel’s other friends and family I have come to believe two things about why my friend took his life.
Of course suicide is a deep and complex event which no one can truly understand once the individual has passed on. But I believe that my theories are accurate and thus worth a national discussion.
I found out that my sweet friend was an incubator baby – a fact that now makes everything else I knew about him make sense. Those of us who loved him dearly believe that not being touched for months upon arriving in a cold hospital room from the womb was such a powerful disconnect for Joel that he never was hard-wired for intimacy. Science agrees. There was an emptiness that was akin to the Grand Canyon to be filled up.
Secondly, it seems Joel had been quite sexually free and adventurous as a young man and hopelessly inept and uncomfortable with women in the second half of his 63-year walk on the Earth.
I can only theorize on this, but we know he had a vicious go with diabetes that nearly killed him about a year ago, and then he wrestled with the devastating symptoms, like chronically cold feet and a Mensa-sized brain that no longer functioned properly, until he couldn’t face agonizing through another day. What does that have to do with his sex life? From my experience working with other diabetics – everything. I think the slowly simmering diabetes had robbed him of his erectile health years ago and devastated his self-esteem.
So why does Joel Gallob’s death mean something to our country? Because it opens a discussion about the way we treat infants and our national pandemic of chronic dis-ease.
I have taken a mountain of flack for my mountain of debts. When domestic violence drove me to the street with a baby in my arms, I made a decision. My child needs ME in order to grow out of this life-busting trauma without ending up in a jail cell, on heroin, or dead in a ditch like Joel.
I decided to invest in my son’s mental health by being by his side the first ten years of his life. “I can get out of debt,” I told myself. “But I will never get my son’s life back if I don’t help him cope with his rough beginning now.” It worked. My son is adjusting well in life at 10 and mommy will work her way out of debt soon.
Yeah, I nursed on the village tit for a long time to save my son. I owe a debt to the village. Republicans, no doubt, will demand that I break myself to repay it. But they would be screaming up a storm if they had to provide a jail cell, a treatment facility, or a coffin for my son.
This attitude has penetrated every aspect of our American culture. Pop out that baby, get back to work, shed that baby weight, resume life as usual. By all means keep the bottomline rolling in – the nanny can raise the baby.
I grew up in a financially healthy home with a stay-at-home mom. However, when I was born, my mother stayed in the hospital for a week (They gave her a hysterectomy without her knowing or consent) and I went home with an abusive man that didn’t even know how to boil water, although he was a big deal in corporate America. He told, what he thought were delightful stories of force feeding me a bottle so I would sleep through the night. I didn’t. He did. I was alone, wet and untouched.
My mother returned before long but was emotionally shut down from her life of incest and now domestic slavery. She didn’t nurse me and probably only held me when carrying me from point A to point B. She never said I love you or hugged or kissed me as a child. She fed and entertained me. I have a lot of Joel’s “Empty hole” symptoms going on myself. Thanks for the heads up Joel! Don’t know how I will fix it, but at least I have a clue of how I got here.
Millions of babies are starting out on sugar-laden, diabetes-rich formulas instead of mama’s milk. I nursed my son for four years like native cultures do. A psychologist told me this weekend that THAT was the best start I could have given my child. I got a BRAVO. And she is the sister of my deceased friend. SHE said that science and psychology has proven how necessary a physical, emotional, nutritional, and spiritual connection is for a helpless, nonverbal being.
Animals cuddle their newborns. Hell, Kangaroos carry them around in their belly like I carried my son in a chest pack and then a side saddle, and slept next to him, nursing him to sleep every night. Yet I have to keep apologizing to my Republican friends and foes for my “Set a CPA’s eyeballs on fire” (Sorry Tim) personal finances.
Dome$tic Violen$e was not cheap. I provided everything for my son (Dad paid a lawyer to fight child $upport and try to take the child from me) and I litigated Pro $e nonstop for four years (Doing laps on foot to the courthouse 20 miles away in the neighboring state), to win our $afety and full cu$tody – a nece$$ary war. I couldn’t have held a job around that full-time schedule if I had wanted to.
Republicans say – “Cut em off – they’ll get a job!” Eventually I would have and played Russian Roulette with my son’s mental and physical health. But on that rainy Sunday night when I hit the door barefoot with a baby I had no sitter or family to watch my child on the streets while I went to a job I hadn’t found yet and might not exist. The agencies that did help, hammered me to dump my son somewhere and get a job.
Knowing what I know now in the midst of mourning Joel’s death I have this to say to those who believe the village has no responsibility to those who are in danger or need, “Who will house, feed, or cuddle your child, grandchild, sister, father or friend if say, a drunk driver wipes out you and your savings (Or some other cut-you-off-at-the-knees life event) tomorrow and they can’t financially, physically or emotionally make it without you? Would you be happy that the “Greater Good” said, “Screw em, we made it, they’ll work it out. It’s the American way?”
So how does this long chain of issues come together?
- Healthy pregnancies produce way less incubator babies.
- Prenatal health has to be a national obsession.
- Breast feeding our children has to be legislated and embraced into mainstream life.
- Cuddling infants is better than tough love later when they become an addict for trying to get nurtured by a substance.
- Diabetes is terrorism. It scares the shit out of anyone dealing with it. The threats of death are constant and real.
- We have to legislate the God Damned sugar off every corner or buy a lot of coffins and pay investigators and Sheriff’s to hunt down next of kin and pay for the funeral debts the deceased leave behind.
- We can no longer watch and listen to a litany of food, alcohol, and pharmaceutical drug commercials while we sit on our fat asses and buy our High Fructose Corn Syrup-laden foods at Walmart and the Dollar Store!
- It’s time to Get Real about everything! – “That includes you Dr. Phil. What you did behind the scenes to this domestic violence family was disgusting!”
Joel Gallob helped launch the Brides of Eden to address our Depression-soaked, diabetes-rich food supply (My next OPED as the co-founder of the first Sugar Detox Center in the country 17 years ago) in an effort to transform it into SuPRANAtural foods (Like the ones that saved my life and delivered me out of menopause to give birth at 47) and address poverty and domestic violence.
The Brides of Eden ask that you open your heart and mind to the idea that it will take a united effort to address these issues and prevent another Joel or Robin from taking their own life in desperation. We can raise healthy, wealthy, happy children but – “It Takes A Village!”
Rest in Peace dear friend!