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.
Yesterday, I spoke about an experience at work that triggered my depression.
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.
Today was a better day.
Not everyone is blessed with the ability to easily interact with others. For some of us, the scariest thing we can do is talk to people.
In the 2017 novel, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman, the title character, Eleanor Oliphant is not exactly a social butterfly. Awkward with a capital A, Eleanor often blurts out what she is thinking, has no social life and keeps to her regimented weekly schedule as if she was in the military. The only conversations she has are the most basic greetings with her colleagues and her weekly phone conversations with her mother, which are not exactly the most uplifting.
Then she meets Raymond, the new hire in her company’s IT department. Raymond is as awkward as Eleanor is. When they save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on sidewalk, something changes for her. With the help of her friendship with Raymond, she may learn to move on from her past and open her heart.
This book was recommended to me by a friend. It is one of the best books I have read in a very long time. From nearly the moment that I started reading this book, I knew who Eleanor was because I understood her. It’s nice to read about a heroine who lives with social anxiety, mental illness and emotional hardships that come with carrying the weight of those obstacles on your shoulders. I also appreciated that Raymond is not a paragon of perfection, a prince charming type who “rescues” the heroine by seeing her inner beauty.
I absolutely recommend it.
P.S. The book is being made into a movie. Reese Witherspoon is one of the producers. This is one movie that I will be waiting in line on opening weekend to see.
I want you to imagine the following scenario: You have everything you have ever wanted.
If you are single, you are enjoying the single life. If you are married or in a steady relationship, that relationship is going strong. Your children, if you have children, are happy and healthy. Your career is satisfying. Your social network outside of your immediate family is also thriving. But inside of you, there is a dark void. Nothing can fill that void and as much as you try to put on the mask of having a good life, that mask can easily crumble into your hands.
This is depression.
The new song Zero, by Imagine Dragons is part of the Ralph Breaks The Internet soundtrack.
The song hits the nail on the head. Depression is like an emotional wormhole that sucks out all of the good things in your life and leaves on the constant reminders of the bad things. It revels in your mistakes, your flaws and your anxieties. It reminds you how useless and stupid you are. Worst of all, it prompts you to take your own life.
The worst part of living with mental illness is not the mental illness, but the stigma attached. If this song helps one person to ask for help, then it is more than a song. It it a lifesaver.
Drug addiction is like any other disease. It requires a proper diagnosis and treatment for the person who is living with the addiction to be able to free themselves from their addiction.
The problem is that it is not treated as one would treat a another disease i.e. heart disease or cancer. Depending on the person who is suffering from drug addiction, they are at best enrolled in a detox program and at worst, put in jail.
Last week, singer and television star Demi Lovato had an overdose after being sober for a number of years. In addition to issues with drug abuse, she also suffers from mental illness.
Her overdose sheds a spotlight on the fact that drug addiction, despite being an illness, is not treated as an illness. For many (especially people of color), the common treatment is jail time. Ms. Lovato has the cushion of not only being white, but also being a famous performer. I’m not an expert in the law or addiction, but common sense tells me that instead of putting these people in jail, we should be treating them for their disease. Keeping them in jail only exacerbates the problem and makes it harder for them to return to every day life once they have completed their jail sentence.
I’m not a fan of Ms. Lovato, but I wish her well in seeking treatment for her disease.
It’s a proven fact that many who suffer from mental health issues have considered or have acted on suicidal thoughts. In the United States, suicide is quickly become one of the leading causes of death. But there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Writer Jennifer Michael Hecht knows all too well the pain that losing a loved one to suicide brings. Her 2013 book, Stay: A History of Suicide and the Arguments Against It, was inspired by the loss of two friends to suicide. In the book, Ms. Hecht examines how suicide was viewed in the past by different cultures and how these cultures argued against suicide. She also examines how attitudes in regards to suicide have changed, but the reasons to live remain the same.
This book was not only well written, but eye opening. Suicide has been part of the human experience for an untold number of generations. For me, living with mental illness, the most important reason for reading this book was the argument that life is worth it. Suicide is permanent, pain can and does heal.
I recommend it.
Depression is like a dark cloud that refuses to dissipate. Professional success, a solid marriage, happy children and supportive family/friends can often mean nothing when one lives with depression. The dark thoughts are insidious, invading the thoughts and psyche of the person suffering until for some the only way to get ride of them is take your own life.
Today it took another life, that of fashion designer Kate Spade.
Ms. Spade was found this morning by her housekeeper. While there has not been an official ruling on her passing, speculation is pointing to suicide caused by depression.
She leaves behind her husband, her teenage daughter, a fashion empire and many who will miss her terribly.
What breaks my heart is that she had every reason to live, but that was not enough in the fight against mental illness.
If you are suffering, please seek help. Whether it is through your clergy person, a therapist, a trusted loved one or another resource, please get help. You are beautiful, you are worth it and you are powerful. You deserve all of the good things that have come and will come your way.
The telephone for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. The life you may save with the phone call is yours.
She was 55. May her memory be a blessing.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
As many of my readers know, depression is my constant companion and has been so for quite a few years.
Depression or any mental illness is not just an excuse for acting up or staying in bed all day and mindlessly staring at the television. It is very real and affects millions of people around the world.
It also takes lives in the form of suicide.
If nothing else, this month encourages those who suffer to get help. It is possible to live a full life with mental illness, but we must seek out help.
Please, if you suffer like I do and you are not working with a mental health professional, I highly recommend that you do so. The life you may end up saving is yours.
The only way to remove the stigma from a thorny issue is to talk about it. The more we talk, the less of an issue the stigma becomes.
Mariah Carey announced today that she has been suffering from bipolar disorder since 2001.
Mental illness is real. It is not a made up to gain sympathy or a reason to throw a pity party. Millions (myself included) suffer around the world from the various diseases that are labelled as mental illness. Unfortunately, it takes someone like Mariah Carey to add another light to the darkness and another voice to the reality of living with mental illness.
Like any disease, depression knows no boundaries. Not even those whose have successful careers in Hollywood are immune.
Wrestler and actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has recently has recently come out as living with depression.
Like many that live with mental illness, The Rock is genetically disposed toward living with depression. His mother suffered from the disease and nearly killed herself in front of her son when The Rock was a teenager.
I find comfort, as weird as it sounds, that The Rock has made a public announcement. Mental illness, even after all of these years, still carries a stigma. In coming out of the closet, so to speak, he has put another public face on the disease. If someone like The Rock can live with depression and still live a full and happy life, then perhaps the rest of us can.