Monday, February 23, 2009

Manic Mondays # 1 :: Suicide and Stigma

Monday, February 23, 2009
Manic Mondays, my attempt to devise a vehicle for myself through which I can write focussed posts on what it feels like, looks like, tastes like, smells like to live with mental illness.  First and second experience will inspire these posts. I want to make these posts deeply personal, rather than clinical or medical.

A good friend of mine who was bipolar recently hung himself. He had struggled for awhile, following the holiday season. I think he reached that point that some of us reach, where we know we need something ... some sort of relief. But ... something keeps us from reaching out and grabbing it. Fear, perhaps, of the exhausting stigma and judgmental attitude one faces, when one seeks the so-called help the mental health system offers its victims. We get tired of hanging on to the rocky cliff. And we let go. And they blame us ... for feeling the feelings, for having the thoughts, for seeking relief. Its almost as though, because we cannot see the wounds of those afflicted with mental illness, we blame them for their illness. Like, c'mon, snap out of it, stop being depressed! How many have heard that one before?

Do we, as a society, think and believe we're doing all we can to stop this from happening? When did we last hear about a revolutionary breakthrough in psychiatric treatment? How much of society's resources goes toward R&D of mental illness and psychiatric treatment? Not enough, I fear, particularly when one considers the invisible virulence and life-threatening nature of diseases such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

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Mayden' s Voyage said...

Again, I am so sorry for your loss.
I don't know that medicine and research are doing all they can in this field...I doubt it. I do know the mind and body have limits though, and pain is something difficult to measure, unlike cancer cells or renal failure, it seems very difficult for a Dr. to measure emotional and mental trauma, and even more difficult to offer help that really makes a difference.
I don't think death is the end of our existence, nor do I think a self inflicted death brings a spiritual punishment or judgement. I think humans made up a "penalty" in order to scare others from harming themselves- because truly the pain of suicide is carried by the living, not the dead.
I was wounded deeply a very long time ago- and was determined to end my life because I couldn't bear the pain. It swallowed me whole and I lived in darkness until I couldn't take another moment of I survived it was a miracle. However, I understand the kind of pain (as you do too) that would drive a person to do anything to ease it. I don't know of a medicine or a therapy that would have helped at that moment, nothing short of the divine could have saved me.

I believe your friend is at peace now, and I hope the same for you. Hugs~

K9 said...

terrible. i am so sorry. i dont have a lot of faith in any new advances on the mental health front. i do see giant steps back on all fronts. hard times mean more people will fall through the cracks.

glad you got the valentine now i know i can send the painting to that address safely. i think either fed ex or UPS cause i dont trust the mail. you never got what i sent to england.

Jo said...

Oh, gosh. I think the problem is that for so long people have thought of the mind and the body as two separate things. I do not believe in a soul. I wish I did, but I don't. I believe the mind is a physical part of the body. And in my belief, only when the mind is treated that way can it be treated for such so-called mental illnesses. They are not mental at all, they are very real and very physical.

My condolences for the loss of your friend. That is so very, very sad. It breaks my heart to see people suffering needlessly.

wulfine said...

mayden ~ i, too, know that sort of mental anguish which drives one to desperately grasp onto anything that seems like relief. and, yes, the pain of suicide is carried by those who mourn. in my darkest times, my children and my mother have kept me from self-destruction. also, the fact that i belief life has a purpose ... that we do not own our lives.

k9 ~ its possible that what you sent to england did arrive, after i left. pilot did tell me, some months ago that i had received mail there ... though i have no idea from whom. yes, the address you used for the valentine is the right one.

jo ~ nice to see you. ahhh the mind. yes, it is a physical entity, i think. but i think there is something ... some other part of us ~ abstract ~ which animates us. i call it a soul; i am more than ever, after watching people die ... it is the most touching thing to see a person animated and alive one moment ... and then, poof! gone. and you know, they look different dead than they do alive. really. its surreal.