Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

Brandon Noland

Brandon Noland is one of my best friends. A little over a month ago Brandon passed away in a tragic offshore accident. This is my first time mentioning the death of my friend because I really don’t like to think about it. Since the time Brandon passed I have been doing a lot of thinking, and I would like to share with you guys lessons I have learned since that hapless day.

(For those that don’t know, for an offshore job, you go off in the Gulf to work your ass off for two weeks, and then you get to come home for two weeks.)

*The following story is 100% true, except for the times. I estimated the times the best I could.*

Saturday, August 16th

I was finishing up a 17.5 hour drive coming into Katy, Texas (my hometown) from spending all summer in North Carolina. It had been a while since I’ve seen all of my friends, and a lot of them happened to be in town. I was about 30 minutes from my house, and my boy Brandon hits me up to see where I was. I called Brandon earlier that week to let him know I would be in town the same weekend he would be home from being offshore. He was telling me that he just received a call saying he had to be back offshore the following morning, so we make plans to hang out that night. So I make some phone calls to put together some sort of going away party for B, and of course, a welcoming party for myself. Turns out, some of our other friends were already planning a little something something, not for us, but I like to think it was. So I go home to eat, shower, put my fancy pants on, and get ready for a good night.

8:00pm: I walk into the party, and greet everybody.

8:01pm:

Brandon Noland (BN) “What’s up, scrub (to me)”

Danny Coleman (DC) “PLEASE tell me this chump isn’t addressing me as “scrub” (to everybody else, while pointing at Brandon).

8:02pm We dap each other up, and swap a couple man stories.

8:10pm: Brandon, myself, and our friend Tyler sit down, and begin to swap additional man stories.

*This is the type of relationship Brandon and I had. We liked to mess with each other a lot. We are both competitive people that want to win at whatever it is we do, and we ALWAYS competed against each other. We would talk shit back and fourth, then crack jokes together, and tell funny stories, and then repeat. We never really had too many serious or “deep” conversations, angry interactions, or anything like that, it just wasn’t our style.

9:03pm: I am making moves on some hunnies, telling jokes (that I think are funny), they aren’t interested.

9:05pm:

BN “Danny! Quit being a bitch, and come play this game.”

DC “B-nol, let’s be realistic, you don’t want me to come over there and defeat you at your own little game.”

BN “Just come play so I beat your ass real quick.”

9:08pm: He finally convinces me to play.

9:24pm: I win the game. Nice.

9:25pm: BN continues to talk trash.

9:26pm: I accept his rematch.

9:50pm: He beats me. I’m pissed.

9:50pm: I don’t say one word. Set the game up for a best out of three. Brandon understands the concept of tying (1 to 1) is not an option.

10:09pm: I win. I am the champion of the night. I talk trash for the rest of the night, and refuse all other rematch challanges. Why? Because I am the champion. See, I am not like Brandon in a sense that if he won game three, and I asked for a rematch, he would have granted it to me. I am not so kind, I walk away a champion.

11:24pm: Brandon and I are leaning up against a counter in the kitchen.

11:25pm: I look over at Brandon. He seems to have a very serious demeanor, and is staring slightly down towards the ground.

*Remember, this dude is somebody I consider one of my best friends, but it just wasn’t our style to get too serious. We just liked to have a good time, and keep the energy light at all times. We all have our friends that are good for different things. Some for serious conversations, and advice. Others for fun, and are always pleasant to be around. Brandon was my pleasant person, and I like to think I was his. Maybe not, but I like to think so.

11:26pm:

DC “What the hell is wrong with you?”

BN “Dude, I was just thinking, if I died tomorrow, I would be 100% happy with the life I’ve had.”

DC “That’s cool, bro. Not me, I got shit to do before I go.”

BN “Well me too! I am just sayin’ that I have lived a good life so far with no regrets, and have enjoyed every minute of it. I have had problems just like everybody else, but I look around and realize how much happier I am then SOO many people.”

DC “Well that’s good man. I am glad to hear that. I don’t know why you’re  going all serious on me all of a sudden.”

BN “haha I am just saying dude!”

2:00am: We all leave the house we are at. Brandon leaves for offshore. I leave for my house.

2:15am: I am laying in bed, and start to think about what Brandon said to me. What if I die tomorrow? Am I happy with the life I lived? Am I living my dreams? Do I have regrets? Have I made a difference in anybody’s life? What will be my legacy? How do I want to be remembered?

3:01am: Still awake, rolling around in bed. Can’t stop reflecting on my life. Can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and start accomplishing things!

3:17am: Damn Brandon, why did you put those f*****g thoughts in my head. I’m stressing out!

3:46: I pass out

Tuesday, August 16th

11:30am: I am on my way to Oklahoma. I get a call from my friend, Michael

11:31pm:

Mike “Hey dude, did you hear about Brandon?

DC “Noland? What about him?”

Mike  “He died this morning, D.”

DC *Silence….* “Wait what? What do you mean?”

Mike “He got into an offshore accident dude, I’m sorry.”

11:33am: My stomach twists.

11:34am:

DC “I have to go man, I’ll call you later.”

Mike “Later dude.”

11:35am: I ride for the next 2 hours in complete silence. No radio. Turn off my phone.

I didn’t believe it. I REALLY didn’t believe it. I expected the dude to show up to his own funeral. Since I didn’t believe it, I showed no emotion. I didn’t cry the day I heard about it, I didn’t cry at his funeral, I didn’t cry at the reception. What was wrong with me I thought? This is one of my best friends, he’s gone, and I don’t even have one tear. Do I even have a heart?

Sunday, August 21st

I am making the long drive back to North Carolina. Three hours into my trip, out of nowhere, I lose my composure. I cry like a 6-year old girl. I have to pull over. Memory after memory race though my mind. It hit me, the dude was gone, forever. No more jokes, no more stories, no more hitting him up on the phone, nothing. I am now mad at myself for being such a pansy. “He wouldn’t want me crying like a little girl” I thought. “He himself would call me a bitch.”

Over the past month I have been thinking and thinking about what Brandon said to me that Saturday night. Life is TOO SHORT for us to feel sadness, anger, envy, contempt, and other negative emotions. In 2004, Harvard University took a poll from its students. 4 out of every 5 student had symptoms or feelings of depression. 4 out of 5! Are you kidding me? Obviously, there is a lot of stress that comes a long with being a Harvard student, but DAMN! These numbers are very similar in a lot of universities around the country. This blog is not about physical health like I usually write about, it is about the mental health of our generation. Mental health is being shown to be more and more important, and equally as important as physical health.

Life is no trial, it is a one time thing. Create what you want to create, do what you want to do, be who you want to be. We are all caught up in what others think. Guess what! You are going to “disappoint” your parents, piss off your peers, and do things you aren’t proud of. However, you can CHOOSE how to respond to these situations.

I don’t want to make you guys sad or anything like that. I just want you to think about a bigger picture next time you are upset or stressed. I understand having a 10 page paper due in 3 hours or so-and-so “talking behind your back.” That kind of stuff can take a mental toll on our people, but look, you are ALIVE! So every time you go into that place of “poor me” just think about how lucky you really are. Think about how Brandon’s mom feels? How his sister feels? THAT is pain. THAT is tragedy. No parent should EVER have to watch their child go.

Since Brandon’s death I have changed in that I call my family more, I don’t stress about what other people think about me, I do stuff that I enjoy & love, I take more chances, and I ask myself every night “did I enjoy life today?” I know this blog is a little different than my usual, but I just want you guys to see that we really don’t have time to be negative in life. Just do your thing, set goals, tell jokes, and enjoy yourself! Being healthy & happy mentally is equally important in living a long healthy life.


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