Untreated Metal Illness, The Silent Killer.

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The news of Kate Spade’s suicide has rocked the internet this week. It rocked me too, because like others, I associated her with the happy, quirky, and glittery line that shares her name. It struck a lot of people because she had the fame, the fortune, the family and could still bare such sadness that she wanted to end her life.

I don’t want to write a think piece on a families tragedy, so I won’t, but I did want to talk about a topic that this tragedy brought to my mind, and that’s untreated mental illness.

There is a strong stigma around mental health treatment. Some of it has to do with the fact that there is still a stigma around mental health, but some of it has to do with the person who should be seeking it.

I often hear the pitch about how we don’t think negatively about blood pressure medication so we shouldn’t about anti-depressants, and I agree with it 100%, but what I keep hearing from individuals is “I think anti-depressants are great, I just don’t need them. I’m just a little sad.”

We downplay our own problems and dismiss them, because they’re inconvenient to face. It’s scary to say we’re not okay, to have to step back from things so we can take care of ourselves. So, we push through and things get worse and worse, then suddenly, there is no return.

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Depression jokes don’t count as healthy coping mechanisms.

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The internet is terrible at normalizing extremely self-deprecating jokes and any type of depression joke. When you criticize them people are quick to call them coping mechanisms, without stopping to think if they are a healthy one or not.

I find myself making them, I made one a week or two ago on Twitter, I liked one on Tumblr two days ago. I’m as guilty as anyone. The thing is, I’m not depressed and haven’t been for a long while. They aren’t a coping mechanism for me, they’re just ingrained in my mind as normal humor and I find myself saying them both out loud and mentally.

It’s not healthy to have the voice in the back of your head scream “this is why you’re going to die alone” when you something annoying. It’s not healthy to have it say “I want to jump off a building” when you embarrass yourself.

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The Power in Knowing You’re Not Alone.

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I saw a friend recently who was going through a really hard time. During the conversation she started a sentence and I filled it in, because I knew what she was talking about having thought similar things myself in the past. She stared at me for a moment in disbelief before saying “you don’t know how sane that made me feel”.

I think we often get caught up in our brains lie. For some reason when we’re going through hard times it likes to tell us that we are alone in it. Our rationality isn’t completely astray, after all nobody has the exact same experiences because none of us are in the exact same situation, but emotions and reactions are chemical, and they all have certain rules to follow. The chances of you being alone in your thoughts or emotions is highly unlikely. You don’t study the brain and read that a certain case is an isolated incident, and where that is recorded it’s normally followed by a footnote that says a similar case was studied seven years later on the other side of the world.

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Is depression just a mindset or is it just a chemical imbalance?

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This titles a tease, because it’s both. But the internet has been arguing about it lately, so I thought I would roll up my sleeves and dive one in.

This argument has been around for a few years now, it’s been talked about enough that I felt the need to put a disclaimer on my “How to Embrace a Happy Life” post that talked about how beating depression isn’t as simple as choosing to be happy, even though there really shouldn’t have been a way to get that from the post.

People who fight depression have gotten sick of hearing those kind of lines, which is completely understandable. What isn’t understandable is the argument that depression is only a chemical imbalance that doesn’t have much to do with mindset.

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I was bullied to attempted suicide. Here’s what I think about the Michelle Carter case:

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Now that I’ve decided to add a mental health section to this blog I’ve been trying to keep it from taking over. I have a lot to talk about, but I don’t want it to be the main point of this blog. Still, this is one news story that I couldn’t really back away from. It hits a little close to home and it’s pretty main stream.

In middle school I was bullied very badly, to the point I was pulled out of school (I didn’t technically finish 8th grade before I moved on to high school) and put into a private school for the following year simply to get me away from the classmates I was with. It was not a good time, all three years I was horribly depressed. I got pulled from school because I told my mom I was suicidal (more on that choice here).

One line that haunted me was “I heard you were suicidal, but I guess you couldn’t even kill yourself right.”

I mean YIKES. So needless to say I have thoughts on the Michelle Carter story, a story that is 100xs worse than mine was and ultimately lead to the death of  a teenage boy.

You can read the full news story here if you haven’t already, but it has a lot more to do than simply telling someone they should kill themselves. I’m not going to go into all the details though, because plenty of people already have. Instead I’m going to go into my thoughts on it.

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An Open Letter to those Struggling with Depression and Suicidal Thoughts:

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I wanted to start this letter with “you are loved” and “it will get better” but those are messages you read all the time and right now it doesn’t matter how many times you read them you will not believe them, it’s not just hard for you to, it’s almost impossible for you too. That is what illness does to your brain. It makes it impossible to see the good.

I’ve been really depressed twice in my life, both for different reasons. The first time was in middle school, after three years of social torture and a ton of bullying I was so depressed my parents pulled me out of the 8th grade because I was suicidal. Then again, when I was 16, because my medication for my bipolar disorder was bringing some serious health issues along with it. I was removed from the medication and fell into depression because of my disorder. So, one was triggered by events and one was triggered purely by my brain. One kind is not better than the other.

Instead of telling you about your situation I’m going to tell you about mine. I would have missed proms, weddings, graduations. I would have missed reuniting with one of my past best friends. I would have missed saving three different lives from taking themselves. I would have missed two different years that at the time I proudly proclaimed “I’ve never been happier in my life.”

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The Past and the Matter of Perspective:

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When I have something bad happen to me my mind changes the way it looks at things, and it changes for the worse. One bad thing leads my mind to all the other bad things that I have had happen in my life. It makes me look back at my pain and think: this is more than normal. Or worse it makes me think: there has been more of this then there has been of the good.

It gets dangerous when that second thought surfaces, because it leads me into the kind of sadness that lasts for days. A kind of self-pity and resignation that just isn’t healthy. It changes my perspective and makes a single negative worth a life time of negatives. It’s a kind of mindset that can alter your life if you hang onto it for too long.

I’ve been in and out of this state for the last few months. Recovering from Lyme and Mono hasn’t been easy, and sometimes it drags me down emotionally.

So how do you shake it? It seems almost impossible when you are sitting under it.

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