********Trigger Warning: I talk about suicide, severe depression and chemical dependency in this blog.Which can be a trigger for some, so if it does, please don’t read this, as I go in great detail in some matters. With great honesty and empathy but I’m NOT a clinically trained medical OR mental health professional. NOTHING I say or ANYONE says should replace in person, professional clinical evaluation and treatment. If in acute medical or mental health crisis, PLEASE call 911, immediately or go to your local Emergency Room, immediately…….*****
I did something unusual for me before writing this blog. I actually checked what’s “trending” after the coroner’s report came out, that yes, Robin Williams’s death was a suicide and NO, there was NO drugs or alcohol involved.And what people’s reactions were to it, on social media.
I’m not surprised in the slightest, that he wasn’t under the influence. He subtly made it clear that this while something he struggled with, was a very conscious choice, he was making, to end his life.
Now I discussed a couple of days ago, the need for compassion, with almost every death including suicide. The only type of suicide or death I can’t handle, at least appropriately, is the deaths of people who kill someone else (or a lot of people) and then kills themselves.
But people are still drawing an unkind and UNFAIR differentiation between Brittany Maynard’s death and Robin Williams’s death and they shouldn’t be. While they had different diseases both had the same outcome. As their diseases progressed it caused them more pain. And both had diagnoses that can and will be terminal for some people.
BEFORE I get a bunch of HATE, let me explain something. People do NOT choose to have mental illness issues anymore than they choose cancer. We as a society, UNTIL we accept that, only can we be the compassionately supportive for those who suffer Mental Illnesses and/or lose someone they LOVE. Or the loved ones who have family members with severe persistent mental illness.
If you wouldn’t tell someone who lost a loved one to cancer, that it is too bad that they didn’t fight harder, why couldn’t they snap out of it and be happy for everything they had, WE HAVE TO STOP SENDING MESSAGES TO SURVIVORS AND SUFFERERS, that the person they lost, that their death was in the realm of anyone’s control. Some of these are NOT preventable deaths.
I’m all about Suicide Prevention, which is a part of why I do the Mental Health activism that I do. But anyone dealing with either their own mental illness, loved one’s mental illness or work in a clinical capacity ALREADY knows that NOT everyone can win their battle with depression. That doesn’t mean we aren’t gonna fight for anyone who’s drowning in depression and is acutely suicidal, we just know that while some lives can be saved, some cannot be saved.
I’ve discussed ad nauseaum about suicidality, other mental health issues and chemical dependency. If you read my last blog which was REALLY wordy and ranty, I discussed an E.R. visit recently, where I’ve been labeled as a drug seeking hypochondriac. Part of that I do get, because I did abuse narcotics for a couple of days prior to my suicide attempt. And I used narcotics as means to try and die. I took almost a month’s worth each of Vicodin, Xanax and Miltown/Equanil.
Let me explain something that might help others have empathy towards those who have CD/MH issues and/or die from them. Those 5 days proceeding my suicide attempt in 2008, when I was abusing meds were FUCKING AWESOME (my kids were already with my parents) . Severe manic depression will never make sense to someone who’s NEVER had it. You could have everything in the world, as far as people (the best family and friends), money and possessions and do so much for others, but one has a feeling of EXTREME worthlessness, despondency and isolation. Those of us who have it, feel grief stricken (sometimes for NO reason, but it’s worse in those who have reason, i.e. loss of loved one, relationships end, etc) for NO viable reason. While I’ve never experienced a sense of euphoria, in my life, those meds allowed me to feel comfortably numb about all my physical and emotional pain.And I was grateful for the respite from my agonizing emotional pain.The agonizing physical pain and loss in ability was hard enough.
I’m not saying that I advocate for abuse of prescription and street drugs and alcohol. I AM saying I understand why people use them, if not abuse them and get addicted. I’m really lucky that I haven’t gotten addicted. But certain circumstances did help me. I got violently ill off of IV morphine when I first had my gastric bypass. I’ve also experienced both opiate and benzo withdrawal when being PERFECTLY compliant, about 3 years post suicide attempt, in 2 different occasions . It WAS awful and at the time, I made a conscious effort not to have either a physical dependence or psychological one (which I do have a slight emotional dependence to my meds) but I don’t take them everyday, even with daily severe chronic pain. Going through withdrawal even though I wasn’t abusing, probably helped me realize or just reinforced something that I’ve always known.
I DO have an addictive personality. I’ve been using food as a coping mechanism (and for many other reasons as stated in other blogs) since I was a toddler. I started smoking when I was 15. I was raised in anti-prescription family doesn’t have a history of alcoholism and/or drug abuse. That there is only so many vices one can rationalize and that’s probably the reason why I am rare person with persistent mental health issues that doesn’t have a CD component. It also helps if I drink too much, I get violently ill (projectile vomiting ) and I do get unpleasant side effects from a lot of prescription medications. So I’m not trying to say I’m a better person then someone who’s struggled with Chemical Dependency issues, just saying, how I’ve managed to escape having substance abuse issues.
But to get back to the point I’m trying to make. It’s that we shouldn’t be questioning on who we have compassion for when people battle diseases and when they lose their lives from them. And we need more therapies available both in medical and mental health realms. Most of the treatments out there to fight serious disease and symptoms have side effects that are bad as the diseases and symptoms they are having.
Don’t be surprised if you utter words verbally or on social media that’s the equivalent of “Being Happy is a conscious choice” or some other ridiculous crap, like that or you talk about a suicide to the equivalent of “what a waste”, why people who suffer from Mental Illness will NOT confide in you. You are NOT safe person to come out to, no matter how nice you are in EVERY other aspect of your life. In NO WAY shape or form am I saying if someone dies from mental illness that it’s one’s fault for them dying. If one wouldn’t rationally blame themselves of a loved one dying from cancer, you CANNOT blame the person who dies from suicidality. Or their loved ones.
The point I’m trying to make is you blame NO ONE and have COMPASSION for EVERYONE …….
Addenum: I want to add the following….Celebrities or “privileged” people are NOT immune to mental illness/cd issues. They are people not superheroes. I had a special place in my heart for Robin Williams. So I get people’s sadness. Out of the top 2 people I would’ve loved to meet, he was only #2, because I’d love to meet Oprah to both thank her and yell at her for how messed up women are about their bodies, given how she and stupid Dr Oz and Dr. Phil have profited on other people’s pain. Mental Illness issues though is a great equalizer. It effects anyone regardless of gender, race, religion, socioeconomic and education level. But we owe it to their families to be able to grieve in privacy. And without stigma or judgement.