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On Mental Illness

September 3, 2014

My Boring-Ass LifeDickweed

Trigger warning: talk of mental illness and suicide

The news broke last month that well known actor and comedian Robin Williams died of suspected suicide. Since then, I’ve seen a ton of quotes, movie clips, photos, and declarations of grief. But Fox News really stepped in it when Shepard Smith called him a coward for committing suicide and I’ve seen those sentiments echoed by a few friends of friends.

Cowardice, selfishness, thoughtlessness. These are the words of people who are completely ignorant about mental illness on a very basic level. I’m talking about this from not only a Robin Williamspersonal perspective, but also a fat perspective, seeing as how teens who even perceive themselves as fat are more likely to attempt suicide.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I have bipolar type I disorder. I’ve had it since I was about 7 years old, so I’ve dealt with mental illness for over two decades… and I’m not even in my 30s yet! My first suicide attempt was at 10 years old. My last suicide attempt was at 23 years old. Though Fat Acceptance has greatly reduced suicidal ideation and self harm thoughts for me, I still deal with mental illness every day of my life.

And let me tell you, suicide is as far from selfish as you can possibly get. If anything, it’s selfish of everyone else to expect them to stick around in unbearable pain, just for their benefit. The thing is, if you’ve lost someone to suicide, you’ll always be sad about it, but you also haven’t lost your ability to be happy. Those who deal with depression will live in pain for their entire lives. And I don’t mean a little bit, I mean excruciating pain. More so, you can’t assume that a suicidal person thinks like you do. They’re thinking that their death will help you, at least in the long run, so, in reality, they’re being selfless, not selfish.

Robin Williams’ death is a huge loss, but it was every bit his right to end his own torment. This is not to say that people with mental illness don’t deserve resources and every bit of help they can get. I’m not saying we should just let people commit suicide without doing anything to help or prevent it. What I’m saying is that victim blaming should be the last thing that we do.

As a fat, mentally-ill person, people often abuse and bully me without even thinking how their words and actions could effect me. Again, fat kids are more likely to attempt suicide as well as having other mental health issues (including eating disorders). Sometimes mental illness is something that we’re born with (bipolar is genetic, though it’s often triggered by abuse or extreme stress), but we like to ignore the mental illness that we create. And then we blame the victims after we’ve broken them down.

I guess my point is that we need to educate ourselves about mental illness and treat people kindly and with compassion. A healthy dose of compassion could actually solve quite a lot of the world’s problems…

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Andrea Jessen permalink
    September 3, 2014 11:05 am

    News of a beloved celebrity passing is usually pretty tough but this one really hit me. It hit he harder just due to the fact that I could relate to this guy. I also have dealt with many of these issues myself for about as long as you have. Some people just have no idea, it’s not a phase or something you can get over (I was told by one of my chef-instructors to just “get over” my panic attacks). All we can do is keep going and cope the best we can. This post was very well written.

    • Stacy permalink
      September 3, 2014 6:43 pm

      “Just get over it” is the go-to phrase for so many insensitive people who don’t understand mental illness at all.

  2. vesta44 permalink
    September 3, 2014 12:01 pm

    As someone with lifelong depression, and who has attempted suicide twice, this post really resonates with me. The abuse I suffered at the hands of my mother for the first 40 years of my life made me feel worthless and like no one would really care if I was no longer around. And suicide seemed like an excellent way to end the pain, especially after the first therapist I saw, at the age of 25, told me there was nothing wrong with me that having more money wouldn’t cure. Oh yeah, having lots of money can buy your way out of depression, can make people stop abusing you, and buys happiness. Luckily (well, that’s still debatable sometimes), the next therapist I had realized that medication and therapy would help me learn how to deal with everything that life was throwing at me in a better way. But it took ten years of non-stop therapy, twice a week, and several different antidepressants before we found the one that helped. Which was wonderful, until I didn’t have insurance to pay for continued therapy (medicaid only allows so much therapy and then you’re on your own, and some insurances through work are almost as bad). Antidepressants aren’t cheap either, so if you don’t have insurance to pay for them, you’re pretty much up shit creek without a paddle (or even a canoe).
    I don’t take antidepressants now – the side effects of so many of them make them contra-indicated with all the other medications I’m taking to cope with arthritis, migraines, fibromyalgia, and all the complications of that failed WLS I had 17 years ago. So I’ve learned how to deal with depression in other ways, but there are still days when suicide seems like a great way to end all the pain – physical, mental, and emotional.

    • Stacy permalink
      September 3, 2014 6:47 pm

      *Hugs you*
      I am so sorry for your pain, but I’m very glad you are here. I’ve read MANY of your posts/comments and they are always insightful and have gone a long way in helping me to find self acceptance and greater peace in my life. Thank you! And please know that you’re very much appreciated. I hardly ever respond to your comments but I read them and take much from them.

  3. Jennifer Hansen permalink
    September 3, 2014 12:39 pm

    Assuming that Robin Williams developed his disease in adolescence, he made it through at least 50 years with his brain trying to kill him all the time. That was a good fight. I wish he hadn’t lost, but that was a damned good fight.

  4. gingeroid permalink
    September 4, 2014 8:03 pm

    I think there is a huge failing when it comes to suicide prevention, and that is for people to do their damndest to keep the person from killing themselves. We’re indoctrinated with useless canned phrases like, “It’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” and, “Oh you don’t really mean that,” or, “It’ll get better.” Sometimes people will spit out an, “I’ll miss you,” but fail to elaborate on why they’d miss the person. Just be real. We also, as a culture, seem to have a need to never hear hard things. Person A is hurting so goes to Person B for help, who tells A to quit being so negative and bringing them down. Eventually B bails, and A’s feelings are reinforced. Ultimately if someone’s determined to end their life, you’re not going to stop them.

  5. lifeonfats permalink
    September 5, 2014 4:28 pm

    And thanks to social media, shaming is even more widespread—even justified—when it comes to those who “are not like the other.” We can now bash celebrities and whomever right to their face, so to speak. It’s hard enough as a fat person not suffering from a mental illness seeing all the abuse that’s hurled at us, but I can’t imagine having to deal with the daily insensitive nonsense while mentally ill, especially that whole “but you don’t look sick!” idiocy.

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