Why Dying Young Is Our Disease
Spoiler alert: This shit is depressing AF
As the new decade unfolds, it’s hard not to be nostalgically reflective about the good old days, and extremely apprehensive of what lies ahead for the much older and less optimistic version of myself.
Truth be told, this is the very first time that I’ve ever been fully aware of the impactful switch to the next 10 years. The previous occasions were easier to digest because of the light weight on my shoulders, and how relative youthfulness tends to protect us from the lurking shadows of doom
They warn us about that fateful moment when you’re suddenly overwhelmed by the brutal awakening that forces you to catch up with the aging process.
The decisions that were made in haste or with consideration for longterm consequences are never more vital until you look back with regret and resignation.
I spent my thirties working hard and playing harder with long days and late nights. Annual trips to South Beach and after-work happy hours consisted of barrels of alcohol and the binge-eating to soak it up.
And then I was under the terror of imbalanced hormones that drove me bonkers with the emotional duress that led to a dependency on mind-altering substances that almost killed me.
It was hard to accommodate the unfamiliar pangs of utter despair that deepened beyond repair.
Instead of seeking help, I self-medicated with bottles of vodka and rivers of red wine. The functional haze temporarily restored my will to live until the high was replaced with urgency to sleep and never wake up.
Those days are gone because of the life-saving measures that demanded a drastic cleanup.
Once I sobered up, I was faced with the daunting task of facing off with my collapsing world without the trusted accompaniments that had served as veiled rescuers for a broken heart and spirit.
A clean diet, and a total break from liquor was the only way to restore original settings, and while that has proven to be a lasting and refreshing turn of events, there’s still the hovering fear of how my dangerous lifestyle will end up shortening my lifespan.
We hear so much about the historically epic status of the economy, and the unstoppable engine fueling the expanding job market. And while forecasters cosign the over-excitement and exaggerations of the Trump administration, there are handful of experts who dare to speak up on behalf of populations that are languishing from neglect.
The truth about the dire state of a disappearing middle class is the inescapable hell that has drowned the entire future of vulnerable and stagnant Gen-Xers like me, who worked their butts off when it mattered and never stopped.
The nightmare of the present began unfolding around 2015, when back-to-back temp assignments confirmed the worst about the growing trend of unemployment. The never-ending search dehumanizes the pursuits of well-qualified job seekers, who are forced to endure the nonchalance of empowered potential employers.
At the start of the past decade, I was comfortably stationed at a secure full-time job with the ideal benefits package, but the glitter never turned to gold, and after almost 7 years, I was ready to move on to greener pastures.
It took me less than two months to find a nicer home, with substantially more pay and the similar reputation of excellence, due to the illustrious name attached. The bad news hit about a week after I started when the toxicity of the environment began to take hold.
The mutual parting at the three-month mark, armed me with a generous severance and the promise to concentrate solely on my writing pursuits, instead of treating my faithful passion like the hobby that may turn into something more.
Fast forward to the current status, and while I steadfastly kept the promise of emancipating the writer, who was dying for the freedom and privilege to be acknowledged, that worthwhile endeavor has accumulated the high-cost that’s only going to get pricier with each passing year.
This new decade is going to be a killer.
The life expectancy in the U.S. is the worst it has ever been, and the warning signs were blaring from 2010 to 2017 when death rates took a giant leap to 29 percent. The recorded victims who were succumbing to this activated epidemic were between the ages of 25 and 34.
A little over a year after the Trump Family Business hijacked the once civilized White House, there were a plethora of articles that were curated to shed light on the dying population of White middle-aged males in middle America, who were suffering the repercussions of the era of “wokeness” that was essentially making them extinct.
Nobody wants to tackle the real and present danger that persistently attacks the fragile existence of very capable, but woefully undervalued adult children of baby boomers, who are now burdened with the unbearable heftiness of sickness and concerns, that include aging parents who are relying on everything we’ve got for survival.
We are the conveniently forgotten generation who received mostly bad advice from our elders, who also got the same treatment passed down, and as we diligently did our best to tow the line and not rattle the establishment, the payback for decent behavior has been quite bitchy.
We aren’t young enough to realistically pursue fresher and more lucrative alternatives, and even if we were willing to place those bets, this hostile climate only entertains the ambitious pursuits of youthful trendsetters, or their much older counterparts, who were living their #bestlives way before it was the preferred hashtag.
Dying young has become our disease, and it extends to hapless forty-somethings, who are trapped in a makeshift purgatory, that’s heated by the impossibility of an exit strategy.
There’s nowhere to go but down, especially when getting older is the verified ultimatum, that plagues assigned participants, who are relentlessly tormented by the serious implications of what should be the natural and dignified order of things.
The main culprits of our untimely demise have been researched as “drug overdoses, liver disease and suicide,” and many more other causes that are most likely linked to the never-ending battle with the unavoidable beast, borne from high-stress situations that are unsolvable.
High blood pressure has had a long history of massacring Black communities both at home and abroad. And there’s also bad habits that die hard.
We are guilty of drowning away sorrows with the shit that eats away at vital organs, and breeds the diseases that thrive when middle-age comes calling.
The damaging vices, known as drug abuse, is the dependable method of burying unbearable pain, and regardless of the risks, you’re able to get enough done to warrant the addiction.
All this while dealing with the emotional turmoil, that won’t dissipate until you finally get the steady job that ensures financial stability, and the leftover for the parents who need you now more than ever.
It’s a war zone out there and nothing is being done to minimize the casualties.
Even as the Trump administration loudly touts the remarkable strides that have resulted in the most robust economy in the entire universe, we can’t downplay the direct attacks on the poorest citizens of this ailing nation.
It was recently announced that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits program, also known as food stamps will be permanently halted for nearly 700,000 hungry souls.
Those affected include people who fall into the category of the unemployed or employees who work less than 20 hours a week, and aren’t saddled with young children or a disabled dependent.
Most of these households are located in areas across the nation that are prone to these hazardous circumstances, that are societally-driven with the added ammunition of a biased judicial system that’s heralded by the deadliness of police brutality.
But this epidemic is also the life story of educated Gen-Xers, who aren’t viable enough to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
We’ve aged out of a system that’s evolving against our best interests, and we can’t afford to adjust to those betrayals, and when that breaking news becomes too real, we may engage in self-mutilation, as a form of hazy escapism.
We either can’t find suitable employment that boasts the requirements to lift us out of the rubble, or if we are working, the dead end jobs without bonuses or salary increases present an identical outcome of tragic stagnation.
We are not well, and this decade isn’t going to make us better, as we come to terms with how we may not outlive our parents, and even if we do manage that feat, the costs of caring and eventually burying our beloveds is the frightening prospect that has come for us all.
Mental health could be the tender care that alleviates some of the discomfort, but how does that work when you can barely keep a roof over your head, juggling multiple gigs at a time.
Living is a privilege, but as we settle into this brand new decade, it’s getting harder and harder to not regard every breathe we take, as the assault we didn’t ask for or deserve.
America is killing its own, as the richest country on earth, that unfairly charges the most for healthcare, compared to equally wealthy counterparts. The mortality rate for age groups that should be flourishing is a dismal record, and that’s a source of grave concern.
What do we do about that?
We could say only time will tell, but we are fast and furiously losing that option.