Kurt Cobain, Chris Cornell, Robin Williams, Junior Seau…a group that share the dubious distinction of being people that took their own life. The vast majority of the mentally healthy world, chalk these deaths up to the troubled life of a “star”. Or, people make ridiculous, ignorant comments like “it’s selfish”, “It’s a cry for help”, “it’s about seeking attention”, etc. I think people do this as it’s almost impossible to fathom being in such a dark place that the thought of death is comforting. The vast majority of suicides are caused by the disease of mental illness. What you really need to know is that this ignorance is part of the reason it’s so very difficult to get solid mental health care.
Some of the world knows this, for others, this will be news; I’m a suicide survivor. I have major depressive disorder and a handful of other mental disorders that I won’t focus on right now. What I want to convey here is that if I didn’t tell you I was mentally ill, you’d never know. I have a highly successful career, I’ve managed to raise two amazing children, I’ve had some amazing relationships. I’ve also struggled with the weight of this disease. I remember trying to take my life like it was yesterday. Even today, I remember how much peace I had in this moment. I’ve been in and out of treatment for this disease for 3 decades, the truth, empowering myself with knowledge is the only reason I’m still alive.
For most mentally ill people, suicidal thoughts aren’t tied to a normal woe-is-me feeling. For those suffering from mental illness, it’s a voice that’s always there, begging you to end your suffering. Sometimes it’s a whisper, other times it’s a deafening scream. Sure, it can often become louder when we’re struggling with the world. But what’s really hard for most to grasp, it can be the loudest when things are going well. For a mentally ill person, we know happiness is fleeting. If I let go now, when I’m happy, that’s how I want to go. I can’t count the times I’ve planned how things would end. Fortunately, I am very in-tune to my disease, I can generally get in front of triggers but it’s not always possible.
Losing both of my parents in the span of 2 years, 3 months and 13 days put me into a tailspin. This led me to another round of aggressive treatment. Here’s how the stigma of mental illness, and yes, you, at least many of you, are the problem. The reality, if I want to be seen by a Psychiatrist or even a mental health nurse practitioner, it’s virtually impossible. I should rephrase that, I can get an appointment, that is 1 appointment, and then I’m handed off to a mental health counselor. I feel that mental health counselors are terribly important to the treatment of mental disorders. However, when people are chronically ill, they need a much high level of care. The reason it’s so very difficult to be treated, it’s not financially viable to be a doctor in the mental health field. This is because insurance companies severely limit the care they’ll pay for. Why? Because society is content to turn a blind eye to the diseases of mental well-being. This sounds harsh, but every time we hear someone make a stupid comment about suicide, it’s leading to the senseless death of another person.
Here’s the fact, mental illness impacts 1 in 4 humans in the world. Educate yourself on mental illness, educate your loved ones. You may be saving someons life and maybe, just maybe you’ll help change the world.