This week an old friend and a person related to someone in my family commuted suicide. Both of them suffered from mental illness.
My heart hurts. I’ve been there. When the anxiety is debilitating. Can’t leave the house. Physically feel like shit. Disappointing those you love. No end in sight. When you’re suffering in the peak of a panic attack and you feel like you can’t live this way for another minute. Another second. You would do anything to end the suffering. The pain.
Then a few minutes goes by. Your chest begins to loosen. Your breathing begins to slow. You can’t hear your heart pounding in your ears anymore. Your vision begins to steady. Your stomach settles down. Things are starting to look up, right?
For now. Here’s the thing about having a legitimate mental illness: the suffering doesn’t end. There will be another panic attack. Another episode of depression. That’s guaranteed.
My guess is that these individuals ended it during the peak of an anxious moment, a panic attack or episode of depression. Before they gave it time to get better. I can’t say I agree with it, but I do understand it. And it makes my heart hurt.
What makes my heart hurt even more is that no one knew the extent of their suffering. On the outside they had lots of friends, were successful, seemed to be living the life they wanted with a smile. Why didn’t anyone have any idea? Because of the stigma around mental illness. They didn’t want to be labeled. Didn’t want to be judged. Didn’t want to burden anyone else with their issues. These were great people and because our society is so quick to judge we are without these people. And many others.
I am one of those people. On the outside I look like I have it all. I take care of myself, I have a great job, a wonderful husband and everything I want. Most people don’t know that I dread mornings. Why? Because I have to fight to make it through another day. Hide the debilitating anxiety. Maintain the facade. My close family knows that I struggle, but how much easier would my life be if I could decline a meeting because I’m too anxious? Work from home because I’m having a bad anxiety day? Cut myself some slack and not clean the house, go grocery shopping and do laundry each Saturday because Sunday is too late in the weekend? But I don’t want to be judged. I don’t want to be treated like an invalid.
Why can’t I tell you that I suffer from GAD, OCD and depression and have you treat me like I don’t belong in the looney bin?
I am a functional, contributing member of society. Don’t judge me.
END THE STIGMA.
RIP Joey and Scott. 💔