When a loved one dies of a physical health issue or a random accident, the common response for the deceased loved ones is sympathy. When a loved one dies from suicide due to mental illness, the common response is not always sympathy.
In 2017, Dr. Jennifer Ashton thought that she had it all: two happy and healthy children, a career as a respected physician and an amicable relationship with her ex-husband. Then her ex-husband committed suicide.
In her new memoir, Life after Suicide: Finding Courage, Comfort and Community after Unthinkable Loss, Dr. Ashton writes about the unexpected death of her ex-husband and how it changed her life. In this deeply personal memoir, Dr. Ashton takes the reader through the bumpy road from grief to acceptance. She also includes the stories of other women who have lost loved ones to suicide and how they learned to cope with their new reality.
I found this book to be one of the best books on mental illness that I have read in a long time. When we talk about suicide, we often talk about the person who took their own life, forgetting that their loved ones are dealing with an unimaginable loss and questions with answers that are not so black and white.
I recommend this book not just for those who are suffering from mental illness, but for those who love them. If nothing else, it will hopefully open the door to a conversation and perhaps save a few lives.
Mental health disorders have a way of isolating those who suffer. Logically, they know that they have a solid support system of family, friends and partners/spouses. But mental illness and depression specifically says otherwise. It makes that person feel alone, that everyone around them is lying. The only thing that is honest is their depression.
Recently, the rock band Disturbed released their latest song and accompanying video, “A Time To Fight“.
The thing that strikes me about this song and the video is that it negates the idea that those who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses suffer are alone. There are millions of us who wake up everyday with this weight on our emotional shoulders.
Knowing that we are not alone, that there are many out there who suffer from this disease is important not just for those who live with mental illness, but for those who love them. That knowledge, from my perspective, is the most important aspect of not just treatment, but living a full life.
When she was in her late 20’s Ms. Cregan had it all: a job that made her happy, a loving marriage and a soon to be new addition to the family. The joy of a new child soon turns to grief when the baby dies two days after she is born. The death of her daughter plunges her into depression and thoughts of suicide. Years later, in writing this book she reflects on her deeply personal and heartbreaking experience with mental illness while talking about the history of how mental illness was viewed and treated.
One of the most glaring aspects of mental illness, from my own experience, is the feeling of being alone in the world. Ms. Cregan’s book reminds me that those of us who suffer from mental illness are not alone. We may not have asked to join millions of others who suffer from mental illness, but it brings us together in a way that allows us live full lives while grappling with a disease that will always be part of us.
Earlier this week, you know who took another swipe at the ACA.
If he had attempted the same thing six months ago (not that its first time he’s tried to remove the ACA), I think my response would be of a general outrage. This time, the potential removal of the ACA is personal.
I wrote a while back about an unexpected curve ball that was thrown my way.
That curve-ball is a change to my career that I did not see coming. As of the end of next month, I will be out of work. My employer is generous to include health insurance in the severance package, but that health insurance is temporary.
The fact is that health insurance is a necessity. Not just to ensure that I have continued access to the mental health professionals who help me to live with my depression, but to provide access to my regular doctor.
Health insurance is a human right, not a privilege. No one should be denied access to a doctor because they cannot afford the appointment or have to go into debt to remain healthy.
But then again, some politicians are so blind that they prefer to save their own skins instead of supporting the voters who hired those politicians to represent them.
I really appreciated this book. I appreciated it because it is not a pie in the sky, unrealistic way of looking at social anxiety. By referencing the true life experiences, the science behind social anxiety and suggestions on how to move beyond the inner critic.
Music and art in general has a way to freezing a moment in time.
16 years ago yesterday, Evanescence released what would be a career defining album for the band: Fallen.
Back then, I was a senior in my last semester of college. Graduation and the real world was on the horizon. Being in your early 20’s and knowing that you have an uncertain future is harder when you live with mental illness.
I didn’t know that I was living with depression back then. I didn’t know that I had options to deal with the emotional black hole and anxiety that is depression.
Then Fallen was released. Not only had I found a band whose music absolutely rocked my world, but an outlet to release the darkness that was inside of me.
To this day, Fallen is one of my favorite albums and my go to music when I feel the tentacles of depression spreading.
Thank you, Evanescence, for this amazing album. I don’t know where my life would be without it.
There are some illnesses that are obvious via physical symptoms. The various forms of mental illness are very often referred to as invisible illness because symptoms are not always obvious to the naked eye.
I have lived with depression for years. It often speaks for me when I cannot. The problem is that when it speaks for me, it does not speak the truth.
Courtesy of fanpop.
It speaks of my anxieties, my insecurities. It reveals that in spite of all I have worked for and achieved, I am still worth nothing. The people in my life are lying to me. I am worth nothing and the only place I should be is the grave.
If we have a conversation and my depression decides to speak for me, please pardon me. It is not me who is speaking, but one who has taken over my tongue and my thoughts. It is my depression.
Many, if not all of my readers know that depression is my unwanted constant companion.
Recently, I have been trying to put plans together for a potential mini-vacation later this year. The planning of this vacation has not been going as I hoped it would be.
When you live with depression, you live in fear of rejection, whether it is real or imagined. This real rejection that I have been dealing with lately has become another emotional weight on my shoulders.
Logically, I know that this rejection is not personal. But emotionally, this rejection feels personal. It is a reminder that I am worthless and unimportant.
I know that this too shall pass. At some point, the plans for this potential mini-vacation will come together. But until then, the sting of the rejection remains.
Today, I am happy to report that it was a better day. My depression will never fully go away, but at least the issue that triggered my depression was dealt with.
When one’s mental illness is triggered, it akin to trying to climb out of a hole made of sand or dirt. You try to climb out with everything you have, but all you get is dirty fingernails, complete exhaustion and feeling like you will never be able to get out of this hole.
I was surrounded by love today, which helped immensely. I was also given a hug by a young boy whom I have never met before. It felt like G-d was saying that I would be OK.
When one lives with mental illness, the best one can hope for is an emotionally even keel day.
Today was not one of those days. I had a moment today that triggered my depression. While I will not get into the details, I will say that I was not a happy camper when I left the office.
Depression is like a ball and chain that one is forever dragging around. The key to unlock it is nowhere to be found and there is no metal smith to break the chain. Depending on how the day has gone, the ball can vary in weight, but it never ceases to weigh me down.
As I write this post, it’s nearly 10:00 in the evening. The day and the trigger are over.