You have the power to say,
This is not how my story will end.
So much awareness is brought to mental illness when someone well known dies from it. When suicide takes a life away – suddenly everyone is aware of what pain it causes – to that person and to those that loved them – and even to those that did not know them personally but were somehow touched by them.
There have been so many articles, news reports, and posts about Robin William’s death. I did a post myself. I do not think it is wrong to bring this attention – I think it is great!
My problem with it is — it starts strong — everyone cares about it. The public published the suicide hotline number on Facebook, they post that they care and are there for anyone who needs to talk. They talk about how stigma is wrong. I am not saying that they are lying in any way. I think they do believe these things. I think that losing someone that they were genuinely touched by has affected them. Once that grieving period dies down though, the “sensationalism” of the issue dies down too.
How many celebrities have we lost to suicides and overdoses over the years? How many times have we had a month or two where mental health was a big issue because of this and everyone seemed to care about it, to support it? Then suddenly – it all just went away.
Perhaps, this time it will be different. Maybe this time, the suicide hotline numbers will stay up. Maybe people really will take the time to listen and be there for others. Maybe the stigma will die down.
A few celebrities we have lost over the last few years that have brought quite a bit of attention to the news were:
Philip Seymore Hoffman – drug overdose
L’Wren Scott – Hung herself
Lee Thompson Young – shot himself
Whitney Houston – drowned – with cocaine being a factor, but struggled with drugs and this brought up great discussion after her death
Amy Whinehouse – Alcohol Poisoning …. thus joining “Club 27” – a club of popular musicians who died at the age of 27 from suicide/drug overdose and homicides.
Lots of discussion occurred after these deaths … but soon after, it all just died down. These are just a few of the deaths too. There were a lot more. A lot more due to drug overdoses, which is a serious mental health issue today. A lot more suicides over the years as well. Let’s not let these stories happen and people just forget about them. Mental illness is not something that should be in the news for a few months and forgotten. Let’s keep it in the spotlight. These celebrities should not be dying from it, we should not be dying from it – no one should be dying from it.
What is a mistake I will never make again?
I won’t ever not ask for help again. I went for years not asking for help. Hiding my depression, hiding my pain. I didn’t want people to think I was weak. I didn’t want people to not love me or care about me. I wanted to be strong and competitive in this world. I wanted to prove I could be somebody.
Depression, Bipolar, BPD, PTSD, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective, OCD, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Trauma, Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse, Rape – whatever the mental illness or Trauma/Past is though – it doesn’t mean you are weak. It took me far to long to figure that out.
All I knew was that this world was about getting ahead. That is all that was preached to me in school – you have to do this, you have to do that. Learn this, learn that. Get into the best school, earn the highest grades. Take the ACT, the SAT. Apply, apply, apply. I was miserable, but I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.
On top of that, I really didn’t believe I was going to be alive. I really thought I was going to be dead, either by a natural death or by suicide. I didn’t think I was actually going to have to live up to those expectations anyway. So I never asked for help.
Then there was also the little fact that it was brought to people attention that I needed help, and no one seemed to care – so why would I ask for help when no one wanted to help me in the first place when others told them I needed it?
After being miserable for years though, and then seeing what my life has been like with the right medications and proper therapy — I would give so much to go back and get these things earlier in my life. What a difference I think it would have made, how much easier my life would have been.
Even though people don’t always listen when we ask for help. I still will always ask for it. I still will always plead for it. I won’t give up. I will keep asking, I will keep begging, I will keep pleading for the help. If I need help – I will get it – no matter what. Because not asking for help, will just lead to my destruction. I know that now.
Word Press Post A Day – When was the last time you experienced writer’s block? What do you think brought it about — and how did you dig your way out of it?
I just started doing these Post A Day things from Word Press – I thought it might help me expand on my topics – bring in new ideas to relate to mental health…which is what my blog is about. For the most part, I think it has helped a bit. I think most of them I have been able to relate to mental health/illness in some way, even if it has been a bit of a stretch at times. Except Unlikely Pairing – that one, nope, I just couldn’t tie in. I wrote about it anyway, just to write.
I am passionate about mental health though. I have been affected with mental illness my whole life. There is so much stigma associated with mental illness though. You rarely hear about the great people that have mental illness, just the horrible stories related to it. Everyone just gets a bad picture.
I created this blog to show my struggles, but also my triumphs over my disorders – my bipolar, my borderline personality disorder, and my PTSD. All of which I struggle with daily. I also overcome it everyday though.
Each day I get up, I write on here. I write about what mental illness is, or how to cope with it, quotes related to it, how it has affected me, how it might be affecting me that day, what I am going to do in the future to overcome a challenge that I faced because of it, suicide, sexual abuse, past traumas, therapy, etc.
I’m sure I had writers block in high school related to some silly essay my AP English teacher wanted me to write. When it comes down to something that I am interested in though, something I am passionate about – no, I haven’t had it. I am sure it might come eventually, but so far, it hasn’t hit me. I hope it doesn’t because this is a topic that needs to be spoken up for and needs to be heard.
This is my coping skill. It’s keeping me mentally healthy right now. Or as much as it can anyway.
Friendships with someone who has a mental health disorder can be quite tough at times. In fact, my group of friends is quite small. Most of them actually are other people that have a mental illness, because they understand what it is like. But I have friends that do not, and they are great!
I know that sometimes, being a friend or in a relationship with someone with a mental illness can be hard sometimes though. You don’t know what to say when certain topics come up, you don’t know how to react to certain situations, or maybe you don’t know what they are looking for or what help they want.
Being someone with a mental illness, there are a few things that friends do that really help me and I think most people with mental illness would say they look for in a good friend:
1) They listen – My true friends simply listen. They don’t judge me and they just listen. They don’t try to think ahead to what they are going to say next or how to respond while I am talking. They carefully pay attention to what I am saying, then they take the time to form a response if one is even needed. Many times I don’t need a response, I do not need advice, I just need someone to listen.
2) They support me – They validate my feelings and show me that I am not alone. They cannot always be present in person 100% of the time, but they let me know that I can text them or email them, Facebook them or leave a voicemail, and when they get it they will get back to me as soon as they can. They let me know that they care and that they are going to be there for me. They are empathetic.
3) They ask how they can help me – Sometimes, they don’t know what to do. Sometimes I don’t even know what I want them to do. I just ramble on and on. So they ask me what I am wanting. What do I need? This question gets to the bottom of things. Do they need to drive me to a therapy appointment? Do they need help studying for a test because of stress? What type of support is needed. It may seem direct, but there are nice ways of saying it, “What can I do to help you?”, “I want to do my best to support you right now, how can I do that?”, “What are some of the things you need right now?”
4) They are educated about mental illness – They know what is going on with me. They do not assume I am faking it, that it is all drama, or that I am “crazy.” They do not stigmatize mental illness. They take the time to learn about what is going on with me by either listening to me tell them about it or by doing their own research (or both!). This helps so much in the friendship.
5) They support me healthy coping skills – My good friends do not tell me I just need to have a drink or smoke pot or have sex to feel better. My good friends tell me I need to do something nice for myself, get a massage, read a good book, exercise, talk to them or my therapist, etc. My good friends understand that going out and partying late at night and drinking alcohol will interfere with my psych meds and mess up my sleep schedule thus possibly throwing my mental illness into disarray. My good friends encourage me to go out with them for alternative activities like a movie or a comedy show.
6) They take care of themselves – I don’t want my friend to feel like I am a burden on them. I want them to have their own lives and I don’t want to be clinging onto them. Knowing that they take care of themselves first and put up boundaries protects them and me. If they get overwhelmed by me, then it puts their mental health in jeopardy and most likely I will also be losing a friend. It is so important when you are friends with someone with a mental illness – or anyone for that matter – you take care of yourself first. Because if you cant take care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else?
This is a wonderful poem that I was given when I was inpatient. Then I was given it again while in therapy. There is so much power in this poem and I feel like it represent my struggle with mental illness so much. I feel like I have gone back and forth between the chapters of it multiple times in my life and I am sure I will continue to throughout my life.
A POETIC INTERLUDE: AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN FIVE SHORT CHAPTERSby Portia NelsonI
I walk, down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in
I am lost…. I am helpless
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again
I can’t believe I am in the same place but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.’
I still fall in…. it’s a habit, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
I walk down another street.
In November 2013 I lost a good friend to mental illness. Both of us had a nerve injuries to our arm. I have had a brachial plexus injury since December 2008 and have struggled with the nerve pain since then. My shoulder and arm were paralyzed for 1.5 years and while I have gained 80% of the movement back, the pain is still awful. We bonded over the frustration of no one understanding how hard it was to live with chronic pain.
Her injury was much more recent and I felt as though giving her hope that things would get better was my job. She struggled with deep depression as well as drug abuse. She was in therapy but still felt like no one understood. She felt like talking to those around her just made her seem like she was complaining and everyone would get sick of it. I understood completely what she meant.
I think most of us with mental illness can understand that though. After a while, when we tell people that we are down, it just seems like people say, “What’s new? You always feel that way. Why don’t you do something, go out, have fun, get a hobby, spend time with friends, etc, etc.” We seem like a burden to those around us. I think it got the best of her.
Her only escape was drugs. It took away not only her physical pain, but her emotional pain too. I feel guilty many times because I feel like I should have done more. What if I had been there for her more? What if I had listened more? What if I had pushed her to get into a rehab? What if I had shown her more hope, and pretended that my life was better and not complained about my pain in my arm so much? Would things be different? Would she still be alive?
Unfortunately that is what mental illness does, it is a vicious disease that tears us apart and lies to us about our lives. And when substance abuse is involved it clouds our minds even more. These two things took away my friend. They stole her from me. I know she made the decision, but I also know that if she hadn’t been affected by these two diseases that her decision might have been much different than it was that night. Her outlook might have been much more hopeful.
Despite that she left this world 8, almost 9, months ago, I still think about her all the time. Sometimes I am jealous that she is not in pain anymore and I still struggle physically and emotionally. But then I think about all the pain she left behind her – the pain that her family and friends feel. I look at it and think about what would happen to those around me if I let mental illness win. I have to stay strong. I have to keep fighting this battle. I have to win it – for me, for my family, for my friends, and for her.