Disclaimer, this next series of post will focus on my opinion, my fight and me. For me this takes a lot of courage, I might face fall out or bashing but I know the support I will receive and the information i can give to others will help make it worth it. Please read with an open mind and leave your judgy pants at the blog post door.
I have recently decided that I am done being silent. I am done glossing over the details of my fight and I am done pretending that my struggle is less then any other illness. This motivation came in light of a few recent events in my life. I hope that this information can be insightful and help others find their voice.
I am going to start with recent news. Last week, I lost a fellow mental illness sufferer. As everyone knows Robin Williams lost his battle with severe depression. I phrase it that way for a reason and I will touch on it soon. With this in the news all week I have thought a lot about writing on this topic. The issue is I didn’t know where to start. As a journalist I naturally read all sorts of articles on this loss. I witnessed friends, family, people I don’t know, news stations, and his family members all weigh in on the topic. Some of what I read made me happy that mental illnesses were finally being discussed at a national level. Other articles I read made me want to cry with how people treat MI sufferers. It also didn’t help that I had a med mix up and wasn’t taking the right dose (that’s a story for another day but needless to say Bella worked non stop). I also realized while reading this that I can’t be the only MI sufferer who was taking this news hard. Not because he was famous, but because it is a harsh reminder of what living with a mental illness truly means. Death because of your illness is a very possible end result for your life.
Thinking about this reminded me of a fact (not verified) that I once heard about a good chunk of mental illnesses ending in suicide (over 50%) so I decided to look up a few facts. These are according to The World Health organization and where originally published in 2012 and are lower than what they are today.
- Globally more than 350 million people suffer from depression and depression can lead to more than 1 million deaths every year.
- In the United States, every 15 minutes someone dies of suicide. That is about 34,000 people per year.
- It is predicted that by 2030 depression will out pace cancer and stroke for the amount of deaths caused per year.
- 90% of those who commit suicide struggle with an underlying mental illness (many of those silently struggle)
With all of these statistics in mind, I want to clarify why I said he lost his battle. Many will argue that saying that makes him sound like a victim, and because it was suicide he is not a victim. That is a very ignorant way to look at this. People often forget that someone with a MI is suffering from a disease. This statement is going to make many people angry but Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, OCD and any other Mental Illness is no different then Diabetes, Cancer, ALS, MS, Heart Conditions, or any other illness. Why do I say this? Because no body asks for an illness, no body asks to feel out of control, or asks to be sick. So why should we be treating MI patients any differently then we treat victims of other illnesses.
While the news of this death was one spark of motivation to tell all, the other is because of my personal struggle as well as the struggle of my friends and fellow fighters who tend to suffer most days in silence. This month will mark my one-year of hitting rock bottom. When I say hitting rock bottom, I mean slamming into it free-falling at 80 mph.
For a year, I have glossed over the truth. I have hidden behind lesser-feared diagnoses and pretended that it was not as big of a deal as it was. For a year I have felt a variety of feelings over an illness I cannot control. I have felt guilt, hatred (towards myself and from others) I have felt worthless, I have questioned the outcome of what happened, I have been happy with how my story has gone, I have been sad with how it didn’t go. Basically I have had a never-ending roller coaster of emotions. What sucks is that I am supposed to keep this inside. By talking about it, apparently, “I am seeking attention” “I am making people uncomfortable” “I am exaggerating normal struggles that everyone goes through”. Sadly, I am not the only one to feel this way. I have many fellow fighters who all say the same things. People who are not affected by MI don’t understand and sometimes prefer to stay ignorant. The silence is better than facing something that causes people to take their own lives right?
Well I think that is all Crap, and I am going to smash the silence and speak out. I hope others can start to speak out too or that it will help others start looking at mental illness a different way.