After the events of this week, I decided to continue the conversation I had a few months ago and that most of us have been having this week.
The passing of Robin Williams made me stop what I was doing… until my friend continued on to tell me that he had been depressed and committed suicide. Still saddened by the news that Mrs. Doubtfire was no longer with us, I couldn’t help but think, “What a selfish act.” But I can explain this.
I went off of my own personal experiences. I assumed that he was fully aware of his depression. His publicist or someone around that nature stated that he had bipolar disorder and had been battling depression for awhile. Why does this make a difference? Because if one has been diagnosed with a mental illness and has chosen to not seek help or to even try to fight through it, this becomes a problem. If one takes a chance with suicide over taking a chance on seeking help, I see this as a selfish act… or used to. I’m still working out the kinks on this belief. And just to clarify, the act is selfish, not the person.
Let me explain. I saw it like this before my research: When a person knows they are ill, and they have other means of preventing such drastic actions and then still choose to take their own lives without the thought of what this may do to their loved ones, it becomes a selfish act. When one finds out they have cancer, they don’t leave it to spread, they continue onto treatment. If there is a chance at survival, don’t you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to try before giving up?
But this thought process changes when the person isn’t aware that they’re indeed suffering from a mental illness. In the words of my friend Maki, How can you seek help, when you don’t know that something is wrong? To build on this, how can we treat it as a serious case, when it doesn’t seem like one in the moment? Since yesterday morning, I have been reading articles upon articles to try and understand why others would not see this act as selfish. I even discussed it with my therapist, allowing her to play devil’s advocate. I’m trying to understand it from all standpoints not just my own. Most of society does not see depression as an illness, but I’m also now realizing that sometimes people are not as self-aware as I was and still am. After years of dark thoughts and self mutilating, I realized something was wrong. Even before I put myself in the hospital at age 16, I kind of knew something was wrong. But before that point, this was the norm for me. Sad today, even worse the next day, and then sort of okay the day after. But never truly overjoyed. I’ve always been labeled dramatic, emotional, over the top, etc. This was normal, therefore I felt no need to fix it. I didn’t think anything of it.
But some people never leave that stage. This remains their norm. They don’t know they’re suffering from a mental illness, so they deal with it the best way that they can, which sometimes results in suicide
I think one of the main problems here is that the world does not recognize all mental illnesses. It’s not severe unless it’s a well known personality disorder. Not even that, it has become something that has been labeled as taboo for years. It’s kept hush-hush, no one wants to speak about it, and the results of this are people who are ashamed to admit they have a mental illness, ashamed to seek help, or are completely blind to the possibilities. But that’s a post for another day.
I’m not sure if outsiders will ever understand the routine that takes place within a depressed mind, but it is dark, it is that severe and it hurts just as much as people say. Suicide is attempted out of desperation. It’s that glowing out button that ends the emptiness. And I hate to admit it, but when you truly are in the pits of pain and mental suffering, the thought of suicide is sometimes the only way to bring peace to your mind. I get it. I do.
But in some instances suicide only benefits the one person that is suffering. In other cases, in which I have yet to find a suitable example to share, it may simply be the only way, or done to benefit others so they’re no longer suffering too. Either way, I can only comment on my own experience and experiences identical to it.
My experience is that I felt alone, I felt empty, and I sometimes felt nothing. I felt it so badly that I attempted to take my own life. And had I succeed I would have left my then 9-year-old brother in a heap of confusion and my two-year-old sister with no role model and a then nap time buddy. If I had succeeded I would have broken my mother’s heart, and shattered everything my father moved us for: a better life. I would have ripped myself from this world without a care and based solely on justifications of “No one would miss me,” or “This will make it easier for them” … which were lies I told myself to ease my pain. My family would have to live with the pain of knowing that I didn’t see anything in life worth living for. And I would have done all of this without even taking a chance on getting better. Instead of ending the suffering, I would have made it 100x worse. So to me, yes my actions were a selfish act. And I stand by it.