If you've been reading my blog from the beginning, or even just found it and are exploring older posts, I started writing this as a way to work through my own depression and diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. People who have talked to me are often surprised that I'm so candid about my mental illness. I feel it's important to talk about mental illness instead of hiding it away like a dirty secret.
Shortly after Robin Williams' death was announced, my nephew's friend committed suicide. I've held off a few days writing about this because it is a triggering subject, and I wanted to give it some space. However, from what my sister told me in our conversations, this teenager was the "funny" kid, a good kid that no one suspected was harboring any sort of suicidal tendencies (kind of like Robin Williams). You will never truly know what's going on inside the mind of someone suffering from depression. Often, you don't even know they're suffering. There is such a terrible stigma surrounding mental illness, and it needs to stop. It's absolute bullshit.
It's important to create open, honest dialogue, and create safe spaces where people can talk about depression and other issues. Victim blaming, telling someone to "get over it," or otherwise getting angry at the person is counterproductive and harmful. Last night I read an amazing article in response to the "people who commit suicide are selfish" trope that people like to trot out during a tragedy like this.
I am very candid about my struggles, but I also had the wherewithal to get help. For some people, they're too scared. I always hoped that if my blog, my honesty about my disease helped just one person, I was doing good. I've worked hard to be a functioning adult and to not let my diagnosis define me. Not everyone is me. If you think someone close to you is struggling, the best thing you can do is offer your support, and if you suspect someone is suicidal, make sure they have the Suicide Prevention Hotline, or the number to a local crisis center. Sometimes, just talking to a person helps. I know. I've had to talk two people out of suicide in the past, and they are both still alive today.
In closing, though, can we stop sharing this stupid meme? As a person with Bipolar I that has severe depressive episodes and the occasional panic attack, I find it offensive. My disease is due to a chemical imbalance, not some bullshit "trying to remain strong for so long" crap. Don't trivialize a real disease. Plus, it smacks of ineffective slactivism. Support people, don't just post a meme.