I needed a moment to process this one and proud to say that I could do so rationally. It’s a nod to a great psychiatrist, that I’m blessed with provision to afford out of pocket, and her vast knowledge of medication, also blessed to afford, that made it possible to not fly off the handle in a total meltdown mess when I saw this the other day.
Maybe someday, this won’t be a headline. A 70% increase in suicide since 2008, coincidentally the same year that social media exploded onto the scene, and losing Americans at a rate of 45 a day is shameful. We should be embarrassed. We should be appalled that people with not fully developed brains, regardless of their social or economic status in life, find such hopelessness in ever emerging from the darkness that they can’t bear the thought of breathing for even 5 more seconds.
I am on incredible medications. I have an army that supports and loves me. My psychiatrist is amazing. I live with no real fear of judgement in telling people I have an illness. I no longer want to cry or throat punch people when they learn of my illness and say, “I would never guess that about you. You’re so put together and function so well.” I am the most mentally healthy I have ever been in my 47 years on this earth.
And still once a week, at minimum, a thought to end my life enters my mind. Sometimes it’s overwhelming and other times it’s a blip & gone in seconds. It’s usually around Mama/wife guilt and/or physical pain. I now exactly where the thought comes from and can usually see it coming but “They’d be better off without you.” fights its way to the front of the line regularly.
Mental illness is not a mindset or choice. It’s not cured with advice to “just be happy” (I do want to throat punch people who say that – no medication is going to fix that one for me.) It doesn’t give a crap about how rich or poor you are. You’re level of education or access to treatment doesn’t matter. Young, old and in between can and are taken down by it. And we’re all hoping like hell it doesn’t find someone we love.
Mental illness is an illness. It’s a brain illness. It’s a chemical imbalance. It’s the synapses in the most complex organ in our bodies that don’t fire the same as other people’s. It’s genetic and there’s no way to know if you will pass it on to your children or not. There is no behavior we can do or self-care choice we can make that can keep it from one day showing up.
It’s pathetically underfunded. It’s access to treatment is horrid. It’s unacceptable to encourage people to ask for help and be proud when they do then hit them with “We’re not taking new patients.” or “Yes, we are taking new patients. We’re scheduling about 10-12 weeks out.” It’s quite literally inhumane. Think you have strep and there’s no issue getting squeezed in same day. Think a belt around your neck or a bottle of pills is a good idea and you’re asked to hang on for 3 months. In some cases, the only way to get inpatient care is to actually make an attempt on your life. It’s intolerable and deplorable and we should be embarrassed that it’s not all hands on deck to reverse this epidemic.
It’s robbing us of 45 incredible people in the US every day. It’s taking 22 American heroes every day. It’s an illness, often an invisible one, but it’s an illness all the same. It’s a fatal illness. Maybe someday, we’ll treat it as one.💔