A couple of days ago a news article came up on my newfeed on FB that fashion designer Kate Spade had passed away of apparent suicide. This morning I woke to the news Anthony Bourdain also succumbed to the mental illness and took his life. While I was unfamiliar with Mrs. Spade, or her accomplishments and struggles, I was sorta familiar with Anthony Bourdain. I watched his shows a few times, watched his guest appearance on Bizzare Foods, heard a lot about him that I admired.
Beyond the celebrity status, beyond the buzz of hollywood and high fashion, these were two people who fought an unseen fight against mental illness. And they lost. I could lay out the statistics, but everyone is doing that. I hurt for their families and friends, I mourn the loss of their talent. And I’m angry, I’m pissed, I’m downright enraged that mental illness is still not being taken seriously. I hear it, even from my own son, scoffing and condemning the people who hurt so deeply, who struggled so valiantly, yet who, in the end, couldn’t keep the inner demons of the mind away.
takes a deep breath
It could have been me. Did you know that? As recently as a few weeks ago the irritating, lying thought crossed my mind that the whole damn world would be better off it I wasn’t around. Back in 2001 I almost drove my car off a cliff, I’m not kidding. I didn’t, obviously, but had it not been for the fact I was preg with A, and I had J & D in the car I would have. I was so deep in the well of depression that I couldn’t see light. I wanted it done and over with. I chose not to, I continued on our way to the campground at Lake Cuyamaca in So Cal. But it was tempting. Very tempting. I was so tired. Tired of living, of struggling, of being screamed at and manipulated. I felt I was a burden on those that loved me, I felt that those closest to me really didn’t like me much at all. I was ready to be done. I chose not to because while my life is my business, I had no business taking the opportunity of living away from my boys. That got my thinking to shift and I recognized how in an instant I could have taken an irreversible step.
This wasn’t the only time those thoughts have crossed my mind, and aside from sternly talking myself out of it, to date my strongest recourse has been to remember Rachael. Rachael was a friend in high school who, in her junior year (iirc) walked in to discover her mother had shot herself in the head. Rachael was 17. Rachael was messed up after that, blaming herself for not taking her mother’s depression and sadness seriously. To this day, twenty years later, she still struggles with it.
I don’t want that to be my kids. Time and time again I’ve reminded myself that my kids and my hubs would be devastated if I did that. And I don’t want them to struggle to come to terms with something I chose to do. They want to have mom around, even if my brain is lying to me and telling me that’s not true. So far this has worked well, it’s been able to keep me from making a final step. I have a lot to live for. I force myself to find the light in what seems to be a shroud of pure darkness.
The pressure is intense, the brain is a mighty manipulator at times, tricking us into believing things aren’t the way they are. It is exhausting, day after day to fight a brain that seems intent on its own demise.
Sometimes, people can’t, no matter how hard they try, see any reason to continue. It’s not being dramatic, it’s not being selfish, if anything it’s a result of years and years of trying hard to be strong, to hide the swirling doubt in their minds. Many other suicidal people I’ve talked with over the years have this mentality; the world would be better without me. Sometimes they pull themselves out of it, or reach out for help or have those who love them reach out to them. Sometimes, despite all our efforts, some people slip further than we can reach. They’re not weak. They’re not selfish. They’re tired of day in and day out. They want the pain, the exhaustion to just stop.
I’ve been thinking about this all day, after shedding tears for the traveling chef who lost his battle. After quietly mourning the fashion designer who seemed to have it all.
Reach out to that buddy you haven’t heard from in a while. Shoot a text or email or phone call to that friend who has struggled. Reach out, because chances are, at least in my experience, they might not be able or willing to reach out to you. If they’re like me, they won’t want to burden you with their problems, or be a downer. They might not respond right away, but at least they’ll know that you care.
Here are some resources for you. Share these please, you might unknowingly save a life.
Here’s another article I read after Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington took his life. Here
We have to do something, to acknowledge and not scoff at people struggling with Mental Illnesses. Our future as a society depends on it.
Writing: I managed 846 words on E1 last night after I posted over here. Figured out what had me stumped. Silly brain. Will try to get the next bit posted on Monday or Tuesday.
Reading: Finished reading The Magic Bakery by DWS. Good book, eye opening.
Be Kind to each other