I haven’t written a post in months. Mainly because I haven’t been struck by anything as of lately that I felt passionate enough about. Sure, there have been changes in my life (both negative and positive) but nothing that have motivated me enough so write or share my thoughts about.
With the death of comedian and actor Robin Williams yesterday, I felt something though. This sadness and clenching of my heart. Especially as I browsed my Facebook timeline and Twitter feed. There were a majority of posters who felt the loss or heartache after hearing the news. Which helped the own feelings that I was experiencing at the moment. It always makes a situation somewhat more bearable when you realize that you’re not necessarily alone in your own feelings during a tragedy or situation.
What really felt like a punch in the stomach to me though, out of all the posts that took over my newsfeeds regarding Robin Williams taking his own life, were the people who posted about the selfishness behind his act. These people who posted or made comments with those sentiments are simply wrong. I’m a strong believer in the fact that people are entitled to their own beliefs but in this case you are simply wrong.
To those believing that suicide or an attempt at suicide is merely an act of selfishness by the person struggling: you are wrong.
You have clearly never experienced what it is like to suffer a mental illness. What you don’t understand is that a mental illness isn’t something that you can just turn on or off. You can’t tell you brain to stop functioning the way that it is the same way you simply cannot tell the cancer taking over your body to stop. Mental illness is the same as any other physical illness – except no one treats it or sees it as such.
To quote a post from Facebook I saw this morning:
“Once again, people who haven’t struggled with severe depression or addiction should try to refrain from posting ignorant things about people who have. Mental illness isn’t someone’s fault. They didn’t ask to wake up each day and fight for their life & then one day have to decide to give up the fight because it’s too painful. You don’t ever know someone else’s struggle. So you think of this situation as “selfish”…I think you’re an idiot.” -Mamie Konzal
Her thoughts hit the nail on the head. You never know what someone is struggling with internally. The happiest people on the outside could be fighting a battle within you have no idea about. I say this out of personal experience and struggles with depression. There are mornings when I can barely get myself out of bed because it hurts too much. Not only within my mind, but also physically. Depression as well as other mental illnesses physically hurt. Not only is that a struggle in itself but the social stigma related to mental illness doesn’t really help dealing with it either. A person struggling with a physical illness receives understanding for the most part from the public. It’s something they can’t control and that people can physical see. When it comes to a mental illness, admitting that you suffer from one immediately categorizes you as “crazy” or “unstable.”
The longer we keep viewing mental illness as being in a completely different category of suffering from a physical illness the longer and more frequently suicide will occur. Not everyone has had the life that you have lived and you never, ever can really know what is going on inside a person’s mind.
So, before you call someone selfish or write them off as having a choice – remember that they don’t. To a person suffering from depression or any other mental illness you sometimes feel as if you don’t have a choice. You are stuck in a place where you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel no matter how wonderful the life surrounding you is. Your brain has told you otherwise. Very rarely do your choices that may appear as selfish to others – actually feel as that to you. It’s usually quite the opposite actually.
So before your go on your rant about how selfish suicide is as an option or whatever knowledge that you have on the subject – don’t.
“Soon madness has worn you down. It’s easier to do what it says than argue. In this way, it takes over your mind. You no longer know where it ends and you begin. You believe anything it says. You do what it tells you, no matter how extreme or absurd. If it says you’re worthless, you agree. You plead for it to stop. You promise to behave. You are on your knees before it, and it laughs.” –Madness: A Bipolar Life, Marya Horbacher