In the wake of the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, the ugliness of people toward suicide and mental health/illness has began to show. I knew it would, it was just a matter of time. So many people claim that we have made huge strides to be able to talk at better lengths about it, yet, I’m afraid, we have not.
Why? Because there are people out there who still hold the belief that anyone who suffers from depression or anxiety in any shape or form are selfish. Yes, you read that right: selfish.
Mirriam-Webster defines selfish as:
a) concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others
b) arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others (better known as a selfish act)
c) being an actively replicating repetitive sequence of nucleic acid that serves no known function (selfish DNA)
d) being genetic material solely concerned with its own replication (selfish genes)
When I look at definition “a”, I would not portray anything about depression or anxiety as being pleasurable or as an advantage. Because, to be honest, I would rather be anywhere than where I am at that moment.
The Mayo Clinic defines clinical depression as the more-severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It isn’t the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder. Notice it states that it isn’t the same as just normal depression? Clinical depression can reside on its own, or in conjunction with bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depression.
And when it comes to anxiety, those of us who struggle with it have no control over it. The Mayo Clinic defines general anxiety disorder as excessive, ongoing anxiety and worry that are difficult to control and interfere with day-to-day activities. Imagine have something create a scenario where all of your faculties leave your body and you are no longer yourself. Your heart races, your palms sweat, and your head spins. That is anxiety.
Another kink to add to the cycle for those who struggle with bipolar disorder is mania. You start off feeling great. You feel as if you are on top of the world and you are able to conquer it. You are able to accomplish goals, you get the feeling like you can do things that you’ve always wanted to do, but you start to do things that are not normal. You start to obsess. You start to do compulsive things like spend, abuse alcohol, or other addictions. You don’t sleep, which leads to the deeper and darker side of mania, which is anger and hostility.
What people don’t realize is that I see my mania as if I’m in a runaway car, with the doors fused shut and the emergency brake won’t work. I’m done and I have no control. My thoughts are racing, I’m all over the place, but I have absolutely no control or way to stop. And thanks to the abusive nature of the anti-anxiety medications, and the hallucinations that came with their alternatives, I have no safety net to fall on if those happen. I’m basically a loose canon who just happens to be labeled bipolar 1, which means I will have manic episodes that can be severe.
So, when someone told me that I’m selfish in my being bipolar, of course I became angry. That’s like a cancer patient they deserved to get cancer.
I only wish someone who thinks these things could live in my head just for one of my worst episodes so they can experience what it feels like to fight off those moments where you just want to end it all. Or to struggle with the extremes with the mania. Or when the anxiety overwhelms. I only wish people could understand those feelings.
Back in October 2016, when I injured my back, that injury amplified those symptoms by 1 million. If you thought my mind was walking a tightrope already, add in debilitating and excruciating pain where I was only using an NSAID patch for pain (no narcotics or opiates at all), and tell me how your depression, anxiety, and mania might be. Oh, let’s add in being forced to not work for one year on top of that due to those injuries in combination with the mental anguish.
I never once entertained committing suicide during that time. I did cry out a lot. I did lash out a lot. I did say a lot of things I regret. Some I don’t. I had people who tried to diagnose me who had no right to do so, as I was already in treatment. I was put on psych meds that made me vomit blood. I was then put on other psych meds that made my muscles contort in pain in ways I’ve never experienced before. Yet, I was called selfish, because I literally cried out.
So, now I’m confused. If you want people who are struggling with mental illness, depression, and anxiety to seek help, or ask for help when they are struggling, don’t tell them to shut up or to get a grip when they do. Because if you do, you are only exasperating the issue. Or are the issue. There’s more than meets the eye, and apparently people only want to help when they are not the ones doing the helping.