Within a week’s span two well-known individuals lost their battle with their illnesses and committed suicide: Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. We were unable to see the pain and suffering that they endured from their illnesses. We were unaware of their struggles.
I suffer from major depressive disorder as well as an anxiety and panic disorder. It took me 25 years to come to terms with this. It took me 25 years to seek help. It took me 25 years to overcome the stigma of having a psychiatric disorder. I have had days where I could not stop myself from crying. I could not calm myself down. I had no motivation to lift myself from my bed or my couch. I have had days. I have had weeks. I have had months. I have been confused and hurt and angry. I have doubted the purpose.
The CDC released the U.S. Suicide Rates/Trends by State from 1999-2016 and they are nothing short of horrific. We need to divert public health resources. We need to offer assistance to not only those with mental illnesses, but also their family members. These statistics are astounding.
All too often people do not seek help for their illness because of the stigma surrounding mental health. All too often people do not recognize psychiatric disorders as actual illnesses because it is an illness you cannot physically see. This needs to end. I know of multiple individuals whose healthcare has been mishandled due to their symptoms of a physical illness being attributed to their mental illness. This needs to stop too.
The number of individuals who commit suicide with no known mental health condition is higher than those diagnosed with mental health conditions for men and close to the same number in men. People go undiagnosed for decades because they are afraid of the repercussions of being diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. They go undiagnosed because we live in a society that is full of judgement and not support. We live in a society of hate and fear, not love, compassion, and empathy.
I am shouting to the rooftops over this. PLEASE: Get help. PLEASE: Reach out to those who you think may be suffering. Reach out to those who seem completely fine. Reach out to the strongest people you know and the weakest. Let each of them know that they are important and that you care. Offer a judgement-free environment for them to express themselves.
This is not okay. We are not okay. We need to be better. We need to do better. We need to work together. We need to help and support one another.