Within a day of the news of his death my inbox was flooded with petitions asking for the job of one Fox News "reporter" who made the needless and senseless comment that Williams was a "coward" for taking his life. This statement is being called, at best, insensitive and offensive. But I'm calling it down right dangerous!
While I have been open with my own diagnosis of BiPolar Disorder in posts both here and through my various social media pages, I have only rarely discussed my illness in any detail. I have decided though, that in wake of the recent comments made by Fox News as well as all those now angry about it, that it's time to do just that.
When I was 18 I was diagnosed by a doctor as having BiPolar Disorder Type 2. For those who do not know what that is, BiPolar Disorder is a mental illness classified by extreme highs (manic episodes) and lows (depressive episodes). There are FOUR types of BiPolar Disorder, each type has levels on intensity and each person may go through multiple levels - or types - as they age and mature. As I said, I am a type 2. This means that I am mostly depressive, but have, or can have, the occasional manic episode. My case is not "sever," in fact from all the others I've talked to I would say my case is in the "mild" category. That said, when I was a teenager my doctors often told my mother I would be unable to hold down a job, live on my own or support myself, so they must have felt that my case was sever enough to warrant that type of warning. Of course, I do live on my own, I've held down many jobs and supported myself since I was 18. I'm not sure if that means I cope well or my case is simply not as bad as they all believed it was, either way, I prove the doctors wrong every day - well, nearly every day.
Being "depressive" does NOT mean that I am constantly in a state of depression. It means that I am more prone to depression than I am manic episodes, and that depression is common for me. But I have both good and bad times. Sometimes days, sometimes weeks. As I've learned to manage my condition(s) I have noticed less severity to my episodes, longer times between them and shorter durations. But I have not, and never will, conquer my illness, which is something I feel is extremely important to point out - and to remember myself.
I'm not going to give you a full history or day by day blow. Nor am I going to blame this, that or the other for my condition. Frankly why I have my condition and/or where it came from don't matter. Yes, I believe I could pin point the causes for my illness, and even point to a "turning point" in my life that triggered it, but it would help neither you nor I to do so as I'm here to discuss how my condition has affect me and what it's like, not what caused it. What is important to point out is that there are MANY triggers for depression, BiPolar conditions and every other mental illness out there. There are also what I like to call "mental sickness" which is a temporary condition that one experiences after trauma. But it's important to remember I am NOT discussing temporary issues here. My illness is something which I will have until the day I die, hopefully at the ripe old age of 113 sitting on my back porch drinking lemonade with my great-great-great grandchildren...
Anyways, I promised you my story, and so far all I've done is talk about specifics... So here goes. When I was 7 years old I started to exhibit early signs of depression. My grades fell, I became generally anti-social (for a 7yr old) and stopped caring about nearly every aspect of my life. This prompted my parents to seek help from a local therapist and psychiatrist, both of whom felt I was in need of medication. The first medication I was on was Prozac. It generally didn't help. I never changed mood wise, but it did cause sleeplessness - sometimes I would go days without sleeping - chest pains and extreme anxiety (again for a 7yr old). Next came Zoloft, then Calonapin, I believe. Both had similar side effects to the Prozac.
Then I took Efexor for ONE DAY! Within 8 hours of that first pill, I was nearly dead. And no, I'm not exaggerating. I was probably around 11 at that point. I took the pill in the morning before school. I started feeling sick in school but there was no one to come get me. At my grandmothers that afternoon I just laid down and by the time my mother came to pick me up around 8 that evening my skin had changed color. If you've ever seen someone dealing with liver failure you know the color I mean, it's kinda a green tinge. But that's what happens when your liver fails, and that's what mine had done. I never took another pill! On a side note, I've talked to other people since who have taken the same medication and had just as sever side effects - everything from liver failure to hallucinations to psychosis... The stuff is just bad!
I don't have much memory of my child hood, which is common with conditions like mine, so I can not provide many specifics on how I felt or what it was like as a child dealing with depression. I do remember things which, at the time, seemed normal, that I now know were more than likely side effects of either the illness or the medications. Most of what I remember are things like my mother "forcing" us to go out and play and me just laying in the grass for hours because I didn't have the energy or the drive to play - even when my friends came over. I didn't care what my grades were like, I didn't care if I was grounded. I would happily just sit in my room all day and night and look out the window or stare at the wall.
As I got older, into puberty and the teen years, my manic states got more common, but they were generally "depressive manic" which means that I was depressed, but my brain was racing... This meant that while normal teens make poor choices because they're teens, I made some extreme - and poor - choices, partly because I was a teenager, but mostly because I had a very obscured view of the world. While most teens feel like their parents "hate" them or their teachers "hate" them or they have "no friends," at the end of the day they know, deep down, that isn't true. I often went through periods where I felt like my parents hated me, my teachers hated me and I had no friends - like the world was against me. The difference was, deep down, I didn't know it wasn't true. Reading through my old journals tells the tale, more than I would like in most cases. From around 11 or 12 on, nearly every journal entry at least mentions the idea of suicide. I talked about all the different ways I could do it. All my plans for doing it. How I knew no one would even know I was gone.
My journals tell another story too, one of drugs and sex. It's a story similar to something you'd expect to read in journals kept by Rolling Stones members! I would sneak out, get high, screw some random guy and sneak back in... Sleep off some of the high, get up for school, steal my mom's whiskey or rum to mix in my morning soda and head off to the bus stop with a joint & a couple of pills. Anything to feel numb I guess. Looking back it's probably a wonder I survived at all. More than that, it's a wonder that I survived as healthy as I did... NO teen pregnancy, NO HIV or STDs... I honestly got much luckier than many others have.
I didn't survive completely unscathed though. When I was 15 I was dating a guy from school. He apparently (according to the other guy) owed his dealer quite a bit of cash. He decided to take me in trade. It's not as bad as it could have been, but rape isn't exactly a day in the park either. Of course being in that place where I truly believed that no one cared, and a complete paranoid fear of what would happen if I told anyone, I made the choice not to tell anyone. This only threw me deeper down the pit. I believe this was when I really started to seriously consider suicide. I attempted a few times - I'd read every pill bottle I could get my hands on, if it said overdose held a risk of death, I took the whole bottle. Thankfully for me I was stupid, like most teens, and didn't realize that I had a better chance of getting really really sick from taking 250 Ibuprofen than I did of dying... I remember one really bad day when my friend and I both took an entire "Sam's Club" bottle of them. Oh, lord I thought I was dying, but I never did. I lost consciousness a few times, chasing too many pain pills with liquor, but I never really came close to death. I attempted to hang myself a few times too. The first time I tied a rope to a branch on our pine tree - the branch broke. The second time, the rope broke... Both times hurt like hell, but beyond a big goose egg on my head where I got hit with the branch, nothing really happened.
I'm not sure when but I started cutting myself. It must have been young because I remember being in middle school trying to hide the slices under my shirt. I would bite myself too. The pain was the same as cutting, sometimes worse, and it didn't leave any long term marks. I knew if I got caught with the slices my mother would kick my ass. Cutting, is greatly misunderstood by most people. It's not uncommon among girls though so I'm going to briefly talk about it.
It's important to know that cutting is NOT about suicide, it's about control. It's common in adolescent and young adult women, but can be found in older women and males as well. Mostly it's found in those who are dealing with depression, anxiety or high ongoing levels of stress. While it starts differently for each person it is nearly always an outlet for someone who feels they lack control in their own life. It gives them not just something all to themselves, but something they control completely. In addition there is an addiction factor because the pain causes the brain to release endorphins, much in the same way as it does during drug use or orgasm. In most cases it allows the individual to feel a general sense of relief and ease... From personal experience the only way I know to describe that feeling is to say it feels like a balloon pop. Like the moment I felt the pain, I had a release of all the anxiety, stress, anger, sadness, self loathing... All of it, all at once. It was complete, yet momentary, relief. I felt calm, relaxed, warm... Just good. I felt good. Which was very rare.
When friends or family of a cutter find the scars or marks they usually fear suicide was attempted. In most cases, that wasn't the case. But those who cut are at a high risk for drug and alcohol use and could be at risk for suicide depending on why they started cutting in the first place.
So, back to me, I was a cutter... And a biter. Few people knew, but there were a few that did too. In all honesty, it's hard to say who knew. I feel I mostly cut when I was depressed. But looking back I think it was just another vice. When I was depressed I cut, when I was manic it was drugs & sex. LOTS of drugs. Lots of sex...
But that wasn't all. When I was manic, I was usually in trouble. In fact, it tended to be the only time I got caught doing anything because I got sloppy. I don't know if that was a good thing or not. Maybe it's the only thing that kept me in check enough to keep me out of bigger trouble. Who knows.
But there was the time I got caught taking Makeup from Hills (a dept. store), and the time I tried to steal $1500 from my aunts neighbor. And then there's the time I ran away. The plan was to take some stuff to my "boyfriend's" house and leave it with him, call my other boyfriend and have him come get me. Then I was going to spend a few nights at his place and move on. But I ended up never making the phone call for a ride. Instead I ended up screwing around with the first guy and being invited to his grandmother's for dinner... It was kinda weird. At one point my mother actually showed up looking for me and I was hiding behind the door. In the end the "boyfriend's" mom called mine and told her where I was. Yeah, my manic episodes were never my best decision making moments. I'd be here forever if I were actually going to type it all out. So lets just say I wasn't always the brightest when I was manic.
At one point I really screwed up. A friend of mine and I thought it would be a good idea to sell nude pictures of ourselves to guys on the internet. Now, mind you, this was 1999. And we were a couple of highschool girls with no home computers. So we were taking the photos while at school, sending the film away for development and getting the pictures on disc. Then we would use the school's computers and upload the photos and send them to guys who would wire us money. In all honesty the reason we got caught was her fault, not mine. But the point is, we did.
Needless to say I was in some deep shit for that one. In a vent, I wrote a note to a friend of mine where I said I was going to kill myself. She had known that I had tried in the past, in fact she was the one who had taken the Ibuprophen with me, so she went to the guidance counselor and showed them the note. They called my mother and forced her to put me in the hospital. I was only there for a few days, they put me on new meds, I made a few "friends" and met a really great guy - who I actually stayed in contact with for quite a few years.
Anyways, as you can see, I had some really crazy times and some REALLY crazy times growing up. My lows were SUPER LOW and my highs were FLIGHTS! There was rarely an in between time for me.
When I was 18 I left home and moved in with a boyfriend. He was quite a few years younger than I was, but his mother was an addict, so she was okay with me living there. His father, not so much. But his father worked out of state and so long as he went to visit when his father was in town, he left me alone. While I lived there I worked for a local restaurant, I'd actually worked there since I was 16. And I became a "dancer" a few nights a week for a short time. Over the next few years I did a little "apartment hopping" where I lived with this guy or that guy or with a friend or on my own. Sometimes I would just stay with someone for a day or two, sometimes I actually had a "home" to go to. Sometimes I slept on a bench down by the river.
For the most part I was usually stoned. The only real constant in my life was my job. I worked nearly every night and generally enjoyed what I did. I've never been afraid of hard work, and the busier the restaurant was the better I seemed to be able to focus and get my work done. I fed on the stress in a way. Maybe it just kept me to busy to think about anything else.
When I wasn't working though, I was generally a mess! I kept myself pretty high because it meant I didn't have to worry about feeling to much. Sometime when I was 19 I ended up back in the hospital. This time just over night. A doctor looked through my file, listened to what I had to say and told me he felt I had been misdiagnosed when I would younger. He felt that a proper diagnoses was BiPolar disorder. I had previously been diagnosed simply as "depressed." This was why he believed the medications they put me on didn't work. Anti-depressants only help the depression. They don't help the mania, and in fact they can cause it. He put me on Lithium. Which I was only on very temporarily. For that short time though, it did seem to work. Unfortunately I wasn't able to take it long term because of a laps in my health insurance.
By the time I was 21 I had mostly gotten through my "manic" episodes. I reached a point in my life where I was finally feeling like I was "evening" out a bit. My manic episodes seemed to thin greatly and they rarely lead me to do anything too stupid. I'd cut off all my hair or take a weekend bender... But it became less and less likely that I would do something illegal or too dangerous. Today my mania tends to lead to me going organization crazy or start super nesting and I find myself scrubbing walls at 2a.m. Of course if you ask my husband he'd tell you when I get manic I also tend to turn into a super controlling bitch... Thankfully we're secure enough in our marriage that he just tends to brush it off as par for the course.
My ongoing battle with depression however, is not always as easy to deal with as my mania is. While my mania tends to crop up around once a year or so, the depression is much more common, and much longer lasting.
During and after pregnancy was the worst. When I found out I was pregnant with my oldest I expected to be like every other mom-to-be out there. I expected that I would lay in bed and imagine what he would look like and dream about holding him. But I really didn't. I tried. I wanted to. But I just couldn't. It never really felt real. I never felt like I was in any way bonded to him. In fact I would surf the web for hours looking at adoption agencies and thinking about how someone else could raise him. When he was born things got worse. Many mothers deal with the "baby blues" but I had full blown Postpartum Depression. And it didn't help that my son nursed every 45 minutes and then screamed til it was time to eat again. He was mildly colic and big - 9lbs 5oz at birth. So he was always nursing. I had a supply issue and ended up supplementing with formula, which then made his poor little belly hurt... He would cry and I would cry... Sometimes I just put him in his bouncy chair and let him cry while I lay on the couch. I didn't know what else to do. Occasionally my mother or sister would come over for a few hours and I could sleep, but most of the time I was alone with him. My husband was always at work - or otherwise busy - so I felt trapped... And the worse I felt, the worse the PPD got.
Of course being my first child and me not knowing all that I know now, I didn't know what PPD was. When I went in for my 6-week check up the doctors asked me how I was feeling. I told them I was always depressed and often just cried. They told me that was normal for first time mothers and I shouldn't worry. Turns out, I should have worried. Around month 3 I hit bottom. My PPD, I believe, became a mild case of Postpartum Psychosis. I started to sit up at night and plan how I was going to kill my husband, my son and myself. I started cutting again. And I rarely ate. It was pure misery. It was rare that I got out of bed unless I had to. I worked a few nights a week, but beyond that, I didn't leave the house... I just laid in bed, did the minimum for my son and thought about killing us all. Looking back I don't believe I really bonded with my son at all in those first months. The time when mother and baby are meant to bond most, I lost to mental illness.
I thought it was something all new moms went through. I didn't realize how bad I got til later. I didn't realize I wasn't just dealing with Baby Blues til years down the road. One of the very few things I regret in life is not getting help back then. I know I could have hurt my son and that terrifies me. I never did, not really. I left him cry longer than I should have from time to time. I gave him formula when I should have nursed. But I never actually harmed him or abused him... I don't think I could forgive myself today if I had.
When my son was 4 months old, I got pregnant again. In my belief, that's the only thing that saved me. I believe I was weeks, maybe days, from hitting the point of no return. The point where I would have done something there is no coming back from. But once I got pregnant again, the Psychosis seemed to lift. I began, again, to feel like I could function.
But in some ways it was like the cycle was just starting over. Although my second pregnancy was in some ways easier than the first - I knew what to expect and the depression wasn't as bad. But during this pregnancy there was A LOT of upheaval in my life. My husband was having some personal issues and ended up in a hospital for 6 weeks out of state. We moved. And my oldest son began exhibiting some anxiety issues. He quit speaking, started having panic attacks and even started to pull his hair out. So even though my pregnancy was a little easier mentally, other parts of my life were more stressful than ever. It's a wonder to me how I survived.
But as always, I thrive under pressure, and I got through it. And even though the pregnancy was easier in some ways, in other ways it was much worse. My second son was smaller, but I carried him very differently and due to long term damage to my back and hip, the last few months were extremely painful. When I was about 6 months along, I had to quit my job and ended up pretty much stuck on the couch or in bed most of the time.
After my second son was born I, again, had some pretty bad PPD. I never got as bad as I did with my first. But I don't believe I bonded properly with him either. I often felt overwhelmed and stressed. Which I guess is how most young moms with two babies under 18 months would feel, but with me, I felt something more than just stressed... I felt like I couldn't understand why I was even doing this... I just went through the motions. When they cried I changed and fed them. When they slept, I slept. I put them down for naps, I went to bed. My husband came home, I handed him two babies and went back to bed. I'd cook dinner and go back to bed... And that was it. Most of my day was spent in bed. My house looked like a tornado went through it because I never cleaned. Most days I didn't even do the dishes.
I want to say this lasted 6 or 8 months. My husband says it felt like it lasted years, but I wasn't that bad. I didn't have the option. Someone had to take care of my children. No one else was going to do it and they were rapidly outgrowing the idea of "lay here and play while mom lays down." So I plugged through.
It eventually got better. In 2009 my husband lost his job and I went back to work. I got a job for a local Starbucks and lasted all of 4 days. On June 25, Michael Jackson died. I've been a fan for my whole life and often found comfort in his music on my worst days. So when I heard he passed away it greatly affected me. For someone who already teetered on the edge of depression most times, it was kinda hard to keep a clear head. Maybe, if you weren't a fan, that doesn't make much sense. But I'm sort of comforted by the fact that millions of others shared my pain that day. When I showed up for my shift that night however, I was clearly depressed. I had been crying earlier in the day and was far from the "smiling and chipper" attitude Starbucks wanted it's employees to have. My manager said she hired me because she thought I was a happy person - where she got that impression I'm not sure. We decided that ultimately this job wasn't the best fit for me.
I didn't find something right away, but I started working for Macy's a few months later. Christmas rush time. It was the best job. I seriously loved it! Of all the jobs I've had, Macy's was by far my favorite! I got pregnant again in February. This time the depression set in pretty early. I considered aborting but couldn't figure out how to afford it. The only time I got out of bed, was to go to work. But, when my boss found out I was not only pregnant but due right before Christmas, she took me off the schedule and never put me back on. They mailed me my last paycheck. At that point, I simply quit getting out of bed. My husband was still out of work, so he took care of the boys. There were whole days when we didn't speak to one another. I just closed the door and ignored the world quite a few days.
My husband has always been supportive. But he didn't know what to do. So he did nothing, he took the boys and left me alone. I'm in no way blaming him. He did the best he could. But that isolation only meant that I slipped further into the hole.
In August my husband took my boys for a weekend camping trip with his family. I stayed home. My mania kicked in while they were gone. Thankfully I was home alone with no money or vehicle and the only thing I could do was clean. I cleaned our house from top to bottom and filled the entire porch with trash. I completely purged the house of anything and everything that I didn't think we needed. This might sound like a good thing, and in some ways it was, my house was never so clean. But in the process I threw away quite a few needful things. Photos, paperwork, books... You name it, I tossed it. Although I don't think we really lost anything life changing, we did lose many things that we later missed - more than a few with sentimental value. While I was manic, nothing had value. When I came back, much of it did.
The last month or so of my pregnancy was the worst. I wanted to die. I would pray that I just wouldn't wake up. I even dreamed about dying. In truth, I'm not sure how I made it through. I'm really not sure how my husband made it through. Without him, I'm not sure I would have.
Through all our ups and downs I have to say my husband has been my saving grace, over and over again. He listens to me cry, supports all my crazy manic moments, and even though he's not always happy about the choices I make he at least tries to support me in everything I do.
In the end I got some reprieve when my daughter was born. Unlike the boys, I had nearly no PPD with her. For the first time I felt the way I thought a new mother was supposed to feel. I wanted to play with her, I held her for hours, and I honestly loved being a new mom. Yes, I went through the normal exhaustion that comes with having an infant and two small children, but over all, I felt good.
My daughter is 3 1/2 now. My boys are 7 & 8. Most days aren't too bad. But at least a few times a year, usually during mid summer and again around mid winter I deal with some depression issues. Pain, exhaustion, migraines, insomnia, short temper, and a complete lack of motivation.
As I've aged and worked to create a more natural lifestyle for my family and myself I've noticed some major changes in my health - mental and physical. In addition to my BiPolar diagnosis I also carry diagnoses for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Arthritis, Labyrnthitis, and damage to my left hip. I have done my best to limit my exposure to any and all chemicals. While I've not been completely successful, I am still working on it. My home no longer has chemical cleaners, all my gardening & yard work is organic and I no longer use personal products - soaps, cosmetics, etc - which contain preservatives or chemicals. The "cleaner" my life has gotten, the less symptoms I've had. Less depression, less anxiety, less pain. But I'm far from "cured." And although my symptoms are lessened now, they're not gone. I still deal with depression, at least off and on throughout the month. The better my diet, the better I feel. But when I eat crap food, I find myself feeling worse and struggle with the same old symptoms. Weather, seasonal changes, hormones, moon cycles... All of it affects my emotional and mental states. Some days, weeks... even months... I feel okay. I get up, clean my home, play with my kids, make good food, garden.. I do all the things that make my life and the lives of my family good. Others I struggle to get out of bed in the morning. Struggle to do even the most basic things in life - eat, drink, sleep...
Unfortunately, depression tends to be a self sustaining beast. In a way it's a parasite that feeds on the life force of those who have it. Once depression takes hold, it feeds itself. It takes a way the want and drive to eat the healthy food which will stop it's progression. It takes the ability to think straight and leads to self loathing and anger which only encourage it's growth. It makes you lazy, sleepless and unmotivated, knowing that exercise, a good night's sleep and the motivation to get up and get moving are some of the best things to get rid of depression quickly.
This is why depression is, perhaps, one of the most dangerous illnesses. It sneaks in when you least expect it. It causes one to alienate and cut off friends and family who would encourage them to get help, or who would support them through their worst moments. Unlike other mental illnesses which lend themselves to outward activities or visible signs of illness, depression is silent.
Worst of all, even those who have dealt with depression first hand rarely understand what Chronic Depression is all about. We all deal with times of darkness. "The Blues" as they're known, strike just about everyone after times of disaster or times of great stress. Loss of a loved one, great loss of property - like a flood or fire, - natural disaster, loss of a job, end of a relationship, so on and on and on... There are a million different reasons for depression to onset. But most of these types of depression come and go. Chronic depression, a mental illness, is a different beast. It needs no catalyst, no introduction, no reason to strike. The first bout of depression nearly always happens after a trauma, just like other non-illness related depression. But then it gets worse, deeper, longer... And it comes back again and again... Every time a person thinks they've got it under control, it rears it's head again.
There are as many medications and treatments out there for depression as there are causes for it. Some have found them to be helpful, others have not. Each individual is different, and each case is different. What worked last year may not work this year. The best defense against depression, as I discussed above, is a good offense, an active healthy lifestyle with little to no chemical exposure. Whole grains, whole foods and a low intake of processed foods. Herbal supplements, light therapy, yoga, and meditation are all shown to help stave off depression and shorten it's hold on a person once it awakens. None of these methods, however, are fool proof. But they are all worth long term experimentation for anyone with a history of ongoing or chronic depression.
While I have not personally had a good tract record with medications and over all I believe a more natural, holistic approach is better, I do NOT encourage anyone to forgo medication if it's their best option. The fact is, I have seen medication go bad, many times. And while I don't feel it should be the first, or last option, in sever situations it's important not to ignore the possibility that it could be of some benefit.
My goal with this post, as I said above, is hopefully to open some eyes. I own my past and with the exception of not getting help after my oldest was born, I regret nothing. All of what I have been through, all of what I have done, all of my past has made me who I am today. Some of you may see some of the things I've done as mistakes. And it's possible they were. But without those experiences I would not be me today. I do not mean for this post to come across as me whining about how hard my life is. All of our lives are hard. We all have moments which we think we can't come back from. I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm not really even looking for support. Instead, I'm looking to hopefully reach out beyond this screen and help someone else out there. If you're the one facing depression, or BiPolar as I am, I hope this helps you to realize that you're not alone, there is help and there are ways to get the help you need. If you love someone who's having such problems, I hope this helps you to see what they're going through, what they're dealing with.
There is no cure out there for depression. There is no answer. And for some, like Mr. Williams, it seems the only clear way out is death. It's is often heart breaking for those left behind. But the fact is, as I hope I've expressed, a depressed mind, a BiPolar mind, an ill mind, is not rational, it's not able to fully see the picture ahead of them. It dwells on the negative, on that which brings us down, that which damages and stops us from seeing any good.
For those left behind it's often difficult to understand why someone would take their own life. For those living on the side lines it's difficult to understand why a sick individual doesn't just "shake it off" or "buck up." Ultimately what needs to be understood is that those with a rational, healthy mind can not understand an irrational and ill mind. You simply can't do it. You can never truly see things they way those dealing with mental illness do and all the rational thought in the world will never make sense to the irrational mind.
We live in a society where terms like "crazy" and "insane" are tossed around as if they are harmless. We talk about forced medication and want to institutionalize those who we term broken. There is little that our current society does to help the mentally ill, and even less we do to work towards public understanding or support for those will mental illnesses. In recent years there has been a growing movement to change this, but as of this moment the vast majority of people still have no clear view of mental illnesses as a whole. From the simple to the complex mental illnesses take all forms and affect nearly every person on Earth either directly or indirectly. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have people in our lives who are dealing with mental illness. If it's not us or our family members, it's our friends, or even our coworkers. It's those in our neighborhood, those in our children's schools, postal workers, paper boy... Teachers, doctors, waitresses, art gallery directors, police... You name it, mental illness affects people of all walks of life, all races, all sexuality, all religions and of course all gender types. No one is beyond the reaches of mental illness, and no one is immune. Some seem to handle it better than others, but all can be taken on a moment's notice.
Before I hang up for the day I want to leave you with some resources. I wouldn't be doing my deed if I didn't.
The National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) website has a good deal of information on depression as well as other forms of mental illness. The sites purpose is to help educate the public on mental illnesses and related treatments.
Below is a list of national hotlines that provide anonymous, confidential information to callers. They can answer questions and help you in times of need.
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
- Boys Town National Hotline – Crisis hotline that helps parents and children cope with stress and anxiety
Phone: 800-442-HOPE (4673)
- Mental Health America – For a referral to specific mental health service or support program in your community
Phone: 800-969-NMHA (6642)
- National Alliance on Mental Illness – Provides support, information, and referrals
Phone: 800-950-NAMI (6264)
- National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
- National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- National Center for Victims of Crime – Multi-language service available
Phone: 800-FYI-CALL (394-2255)
- National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Hotline – Treatment referrals
Phone: 800-662-HELP (4357)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
Phone: 800-799-SAFE (7233)
- National Eating Disorders Association Information and Referral Helpline – Support services, help, and guidance to people struggling with eating disorders, their loved ones, and families
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
Phone: 800-799-SAFE (7233)
- National Runaway Switchboard
Phone: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)
- National Sexual Assault Hotline
Phone: 800-656-HOPE (4673)
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline
Phone: 800-273-TALK (8255)
- Postpartum Support International
Phone: 800-994-4PPD (4773)
- PPD Hope
Phone: 877-PPD-HOPE (877-773-4673)
- PPD Moms
Phone: 800-PPD-MOMS (800-773-6667)
- S.A.F.E. Alternatives
Phone: 800-DONTCUT (800-366-8288)
Above all please remember this... Mental illness isn't a choice, any more than cancer is. It can not be cured, but it can be helped and those suffering need your support. Reach out to them and stand by their side. They may push you away, over and over. But if you love them, understand that is their illness, not them.