May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so I thought this post would be fitting.
I’ve struggled with bouts of depression and was diagnosed a few years back with PTSD caused by my abusive ex-husband. I’ve known numerous people who struggle with depression, as well as manic episodes. I’ve known people who have committed suicide because they saw no other way out of the situation they were in.
The more I look around these days, the more mental well-being seems to be declining. Mass shootings and suicides are plastered all over the news. Over prescribing pain meds and antidepressants are on the rise. It’s almost become a way of life. We have to stop fighting over gun laws and not engage each other in, “I’m right, you’re wrong” fights and start fighting the unrelenting monster called mental illness.
Why are there so many school shootings? Why are more than one out of three Americans on painkillers? Why is it that one out of six Americans is on antidepressants? These percentages far surpass those in other countries. I don’t have the answers, but believe we have to find them.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ~Galatians 3:28
This past week my family and I lost a very dear friend to suicide stemming from bi-polar depression.
It’s been incredibly hard to see such a bright light extinguished by mental illness. Chris was only 24, way too soon to die. He was kind and caring, and always had a smile on his face. My daughter says Chris was her ‘crush’. He will be greatly missed.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.~ Matthew 5:4
Every one close to him, even those who lived with him, saw no sign he’d capable of doing such a horrific act as taking his own life. But Chris had demons; demons hiding deep within… and hid well until he was too tired and weak to fight back. That’s how I see it anyway. None of us will ever be the same…
His girlfriend, Jessie, said to me that she never understood why people say suicide is selfish. Now she understands just how selfish it truly is. He left a gaping whole in each and every heart he touched. The heart of his mother, father, his brother… the hearts of all of his friends, especially me and my family, not to mention the hearts of his girlfriend and her family whom he lived with for the past two years.
I keep looking back on the last few weeks trying to see if I can uncover even the smallest cue telling me that something was off with him. My husband, Ryan, has been doing the same. Both of us noticed that Chris was a little down, but nothing that would indicate what would happen. We just thought it was the result of a long winter. After all, he still always had that stupid infectious smile on his face. I’m not even sure even if we did notice something it would have made a bit of a difference. The reason I say this is because he wasn’t on any medication. Chris couldn’t handle the side effects.
This reason has a very familiar ring to it. A close family member stopped taking meds for bipolar because of the very same reason. Although my family member is doing well, there’s always a risk that they won’t be. It’s a day-by-day process.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. ~Psalm 34: 18
My advice for people who love others with bipolar, or any other kind of mental illness, is to encourage them to get help. Have them go to a local mental health physician or call the mental health hotline at 1-888-679-1575. If they won’t do that, love them and give them support. Take it day-by-day. Don’t take what they do or say personally, however, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU STAY WITH SOMEONE IF THEY ARE ABUSING OR HARMING YOU IN ANY WAY.