Tag Archives: self medicating

No One Should Be Dying From It

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. 

 

Mental Illness and Substance Abuse … They Stole Her Away From Me

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.