Sad Facts

Trying to reconcile death and mental illness.

Anthony Bourdain was the second famous person to commit suicide this week, the other being fashion designer Kate Spade. Cullen Roche tweeted that the suicide rate in the US has risen by 30% since 1999 and that 45,000 people had killed themselves in 2016. The life expectancy in the US has downticked some recently as the number of suicides and opioid overdoses are actually enough to move the needle. Between my family and my wife's family we have about a half a dozen relatives with diagnosed issues and possibly a couple more that are undiagnosed,

I have seen a lot of people posting numbers for suicide hotlines to call or to give to people you know who are struggling and while I am certainly not going to say that is a bad idea, I saw a retweet from Chrissy Teigen who said "In my deepest, darkest post-partum depression, I would have personally never called a phone number. If John or my doctor never reached out, I would have never even known. It really can be a lonely hole. Watch the people you love and don’t be afraid to speak up." So what is a family member supposed to do with that?

A lot of my blog posts are self-helpish in nature. I try to share some of the things that have enhanced my (our) quality of life like the power of positive thinking (I believe in this wholeheartedly), staying fit, volunteering and the other things I've written about. I've willed myself out of a couple serious things in my life and I have confidence in my ability to do that and I have tried to convey that in my writing. "Pick yourself up" can be very useful advice but not in cases of true mental illness. Being down and having true depression are two different things. I don't know much about mental illness but I know it is not as simple as cheer up or as I wrote about recently "let that shit go."

Does anyone with knowledge of the subject watch Homeland? When Claire Daines' character Carrie has an episode, does that give a sense of what happens to people with that diagnosis? If you have seen the show you see how she loses control, it is very difficult to watch and based on what I know second hand, it seems like the show captures it.

I have no great conclusion here but eventually we learn that being bummed or angry is not the same as mental illness and hopefully this post promotes that awareness for one or two people. Being the family member of someone with this sort of diagnosis is brutal and exhausting, so maybe have some compassion for the immediate caregiver of someone who is not well.

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