Syrf Chase, a good friend of mine and writer for this site, passed away at the end of May. This may not be news to some at this point. It has taken me a while to be able to write about the incident to where I feel I can try and do her justice. The grief took its toll on me. The loss broke my heart, though it was not without purpose.
The death was purported as a suicide. An overdose. I do not know much more than that. Her death was very poignant to me. She was a friend. She had a difficult life. What happened to her could have happened to any med sang. You can read her story about living with her condition in her own words in her article. Syrf was someone with a naturally feral gait and had a hard time hiding her condition. She talks of her violent thoughts and the shame, guilt, and depression these impulses caused for her. The truth is, many med sangs wrestle with those same feelings over and over again. Guilt for those feelings and for feeding. It can consume someone from the inside out – lead to self-harm and destructive behaviour. It can set us on a path that can be hard to come back from. So many med sangs I’ve known have suffered depression or engaged in self-destructive tendencies. Rarely does someone deal with this condition and their mind come out from it unscathed. That’s what happens when you have a disease that no one understands, no help is available, and your very existence is a taboo to those whom would claim to understand and indeed the outside world. You can’t go to CVS for a prescription of human blood. We have to do whatever we can to be healthy or we don’t and end up very sick. We turn to ‘real vampire communities’ and often find more frustration than help. Syrf could have been any med sang.
To me, Syrf was a very strong person. She was guarded, yet she was so happy to find other people like her. She would talk about ideas she had for articles and how glad she was to be able to write and work with us. She always spoke her mind and did not mince words. She was very intelligent and had a list of topics she wanted to write about. She was very in touch with her feral nature, I hate to use this term but her ‘beast’ (barf), and it was this feral gait that led to her being ostracized from people both within and outside of the Vampire Community. Few understood, nor can they understand, what it’s like to live with something like that. It is easy to stand on a pedestal and try to force your morality on someone when you have no idea what they deal with. I had so much respect for Syrf. She was well-worded, fun, insightful, and blunt. I miss her very much, and I feel it is a huge loss for all sang-folk. The fact is, this is a burden that is too much for some to carry alone. Her passing made me feel much closer to the ground and it made me face my own mortality. She would excitedly tell me about when she had just had a good ‘feed’. I had helped her out with buying some groceries not long before she disappeared, and one of the last things she said to me was “Thank you. I’ll never forget it”. Those words cut me every time I think of it.
How many more Syrfs are out there? Those who don’t feel able to come forward, or when they do, the advice is unhelpful and they are ostracized as well? I know for certain that I’ve felt like that, as have many other med sangs. Some, we were lucky enough to find through some things like our BBC article with the same experience and hadn’t been feeding and did not know where to turn for help; skeptical and pragmatic advice is not very forthcoming. It is because of people like Syrf, all the Syrfs of tomorrow, that an alternative is needed. From her passing, my will to that end has become iron-clad. I had disappeared for a time because the stress from engaging with a hostile community was taking a toll on me. Change doesn’t come without its share of fighting and challenging the status quo is never easy – I needed a break. However, in that absence, we could have very easily missed finding another med sang who we were very lucky to find, and Syrf was lost to us. It made me think: is it ethical to suddenly disappear? For that presence to be absent? For that alternative to be absent? What about all the other Syrfs out there? My decision was no, it was not. It was not the right thing to do. I will honour my friend by carrying on her work and resolving to never let that happen to anyone like us again, if I can help it. I will do what I can to help create that alternative, to encourage skepticism, to challenge misinformation, to teach med sangs how to cope with their condition and provide the tools to allow them to feed. I feel that is what she would have wanted. Rest in peace, my friend. I miss you terribly.