Depression – Mental Health Stigma
I was reading a book by Adina Wrobleski called Suicide: Survivors A Guide for Those Left Behind. She talks about how her daughter had depression and had killed herself. Throughout her book she talks about how there is a stigma on mental health and also on suicide. It is a terrible thing to have many people die before someone finally raises their hand and says, “Why is this happening?” and not point fingers and cause more issues about it.
Wrobleski wrote something that rings very true, “…a brain disease called major depression, and the way one dies from depression is by suicide.” The only way to die from many mental health disorders is by suicide. Many mental health disorders are not terminal, but they still lead to death. Why? Many times it is because they are not able to get the help that they need, or they get the help too late. Many times they are afraid of getting that help. I know many times Adam was afraid to get the help because he was afraid they were going to “lock him up” due to the “crazy” thinking. It wasn’t his fault. It was just something in his brain that wasn’t quite wired right. It isn’t right that he was afraid to step up and say that he needed this help. When he finally did find the courage, or I he just got tired of hearing me say he had to go in and get help, I think it may have been too late. This is something that I do not know. I do not know that if I had pushed him more before that to go in he would still be alive. That he would still be here with me right now, being my cheerleader through all the hard stuff in life. He was my rock. But that is not what this entry is about. This entry is about someone who is hopefully able to get help in the future because we are taking a stand against the stigma put on mental health disorders. Instead of ostracizing them, lets embrace them. Show them that just because there is something “off” that we still care about them and that they are still important to us as a whole. That we want to help. They should not have to be afraid of getting hope. The fear that they will just be put away in a mental hospital is something they shouldn’t have to fear. In some cases, yes, they do have to be hospitalized, but not in all cases. The people with these disorders should be treated equally and be able to get the help they want without being judged.
Wrobleski also wrote about how suicide is NOT caused by things such as losing a job, or breaking up, or getting into a fight. Yes, they may be a catalyst, but they are NOT the cause. They can be blamed, but they didn’t cause it. The cause is something in their brain. They feel helpless, they feel desperate for the pain to end, for things to cease to exist. They want to feel an inner peace that for some reason they can’t come upon in life while alive. They believe that the only way to achieve this inner peace is to die. To end this inner turmoil they have to end it all. It is not the answer, but this is the way depression and other mental health disorders act. How do I know this? First, I have been diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder, and depression. Second, there have been a few times where I thought about killing myself, and have even tried on a couple occasions. I was unsuccessful. I am glad I was unsuccessful because I could not put this pain and hurt on anyone else. When someone thinks about suicide they don’t think about who it is going to hurt, they are just thinking about ending their hurt. That sounds selfish, but it’s not. The inner turmoil gets so bad that they just don’t know how else to end it. In some cases they are afraid they will cause someone else pain, either physically or emotionally so they figure that them dying would be the best escape for everyone involved. They do not realize, due to their mental health disorder, that it will hurt more to have them die then to ask for help. In some cases they don’t know how to ask for help. I remember when I had gone to a couple counseling sessions with Adam and he couldn’t find the words. I ended up communicating for him because he had voiced his issues with me before hand at some point. Maybe that is why I understand more than others why he did it. I knew how he felt, I knew what was going on in his brain (for the most part). I knew the war going on in his head. I just wish I could have done more. The survivor of suicide will always feel this way. At least for the first bit they will. They wish they could have done something else, and they will always play the what-if games with themselves. Will it solve the problems? No, but that doesn’t make it stop, it is still there.
Wrobleski also wrote about survivors. I mean, that is what her book is about anyway, right? Well she wrote about how the “word survivor there is a challenge to be met: to survive after the most crushing loss that can happen, and to go on.” This rings true in many ways. To survive a suicide can be very crushing. There are many different degrees of “survival”. For me, it seems to be pretty difficult because I witnessed the actual suicide. I witnessed the very thing that I had been fighting against. The very thing that I had been trying to get a program into schools for. To tell kids that bullying is not right and that suicide can be prevented and to never be afraid to ask for help. During the last couple months, he had called the suicide hotline a few times. They didn’t really help him. I know it is because they are not able to give him the type of care he needed which was to be able to help him with the demons he had toiling away in his brain. The very demons that led to his death. The suicide hotline is an awesome resource that should ALWAYS be on hand for people. I am not saying it helps in every case, but it is a great resource for most cases.
Over the years many have come up with “lists” on the “myths and facts” of suicide. There are many “facts” that are actually very untrue.
Myth #1 portrayed as a fact: People who commit suicide are crazy. False. They aren’t crazy, yes, they may have a mental disorder, but they aren’t “CRAZY”. This is what Adam was afraid of. He was afraid of telling anyone the way he felt because he thought people would consider him crazy.
Myth #2 Portrayed as a fact: Suicide can be inherited. FALSE. Suicide is NOT a hereditary thing. Mental illness IS hereditary though and can be a good thing to know. If you know that mental illness is in your family you can do what you need to do to help prevent further issues in life and possibly even prevent suicide.
Many times the people who came up with these “facts” say that depression is NOT a mental illness, when in fact it is. It is not just when someone is “sad”. Depression affects a person way deeper than that. Depression is not just skin deep. It goes down to the soul, to the very heart of a person, and holds on tight. In many cases it doesn’t let go, in others, it will eventually let up.
Now, I am going to go into even more heavy stuff here, and I just want to warn you. I am going to go into a few things about Schizophrenia. Adam had Schizoaffective disorder. Which is also known as Paranoid Schizophrenia. This disease “affects the ability of people to think and perceive reality (Wrobleski).” So, schizophrenia affects the reality of a persons mind, whereas depression, anxiety, and manic-depression are all emotional disorders (Wrobleski). These disorders are primarily a problem with a person’s brain chemistry.
Major Depression is some heavy stuff. This is another mental disorder you DO NOT want to mess with. This is the one that leads to suicide death more commonly. Adam also had Major depression along with his schizophrenia. Making his stuff that much more worse. You add in anxiety and you have a cauldron of pure brain mess. Also known as “DEMONS”. Some of the symptoms of major depression are irritability, loss of concentration, poor sleep, and an inability to feel pleasure (Wrobleski). At first, I did not understand Adam when he would get angry at me and say these hurtful things, then turn around and say he didn’t mean it. I now do. Many times his words were coming from these demons he had. Making him sound deliberately hurtful, when in fact, he didn’t truly mean it.
Many times people go untreated, then it is too late and ends in suicide.
I want to say something to you that Adina Wrobleski wrote in her book, “If you are a suicide survivor, you have a long and terrible road ahead of you. I do not want you to have to walk it alone (Wrobleski).”
I will write more at a later time about how things go on in Wrobleski’s book. Her book was hard for me to get through, but it was important for me to get through. Did it help? Yes and no. I think I will keep going back to the book to see certain points, when I am at certain points of needing comfort. She sort of understands what I am going through, but every situation is different. It all depends on what had happened. Remember, no one is the same, there is no cookie cutter for grief, let yourself grieve in your own way and your own time. Allow yourself a chance to take a breath and know, you are not alone in this journey through grief. You are not alone in this journey of being a suicide survivor.