Just a thought… I’ve brushed up against this darkness and I know it’s a tempting exit but REACH OUT to ANYONE. Stay on this side of it in the light and warmth. Where you get to try again, every day. [@pattonoswalt]
I was going to share with you here today some stories about my dad. Today he turns 85 years old and my sisters gathered with him yesterday in Kelowna to help him celebrate. But I’m waiting until he comes to the island and we’ll have our own party with his brother, my uncle and friend Vern. Right DAD???
Instead, I’ll tell you some Dad stories on Friday, when we get set for Father’s Day. Today, I want to talk about all of those who don’t make it to 85. Or 65. Or 45.
Last week, we were shaken with news of the deaths of two people whose names we know: designer Kate Spade and travel and food writer, raconteur and TV host Anthony Bourdain. Both of these well-loved and respected Americans took their own lives. Both appeared to have everything they could possibly want: money, fame, happiness. How could they possibly want to leave this world?
If that’s a question that crossed your mind – and for most people it did – ask yourself this: have you ever said, “she had everything to live for! How could she ever get cancer?” Of course not. Cancer doesn’t discriminate among skin colours or care what your zip or postal code is. Cancer doesn’t check to see if you have a billion dollars in your bank account or a loving partner or children or millions of fans around the world. Cancer doesn’t care.
And neither does mental illness. We have to stop equating depression with something that can be chosen. We have to stop telling people who are depressed how they should feel, how they need to tally up everything that’s worth living for, how they have to count their blessings. It just doesn’t work that way – especially if everything inside is telling them that the world, including those who love them, would be better off without them in it.
Someone I follow on Twitter – check that, followed – made an asinine comment about suicide and heaven and more judgmental garbage on Friday. I let him have it and then blocked him. All the while, a blog by John Pavlovitz echoed in my mind.
I had shared it last week with a fellow bereaved mother whose son took his own life earlier this year after a lifelong battle with depression and mental illness. Then, on Friday, she wrote to me in desperation about the proliferation of mental illness and how she wished there was an MRI, a cat scan, some kind of way of detecting this. She’s so right. Please read this piece by John Pavlovitz about suicide and how we need to do judge less and help more. (He’s an excellent follow on Twitter, too.)
I’m sorry to start your week on this note – forgive me – but I just had to share what’s in my heart. I know it’s on a lot of people’s minds and I can only hope that talking about it will empower more people to seek help instead of suffering in silence and then saying good-bye far, far too soon. Have a gentle Monday.