Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Silent Killer

People who suffer from bipolar disorder or depression deal with a silent killer.  That silent killer is the potential that suicide might one day take their life.  As someone who has battled this silent killer for years, I know how hard the struggle can be each day.  I call it a silent killer because it seems that is the best way to describe it because many people suffer in silence without getting help.  Even in these times mental illness is still something that people feel ashamed of and don't reach out for help.

I guess there have been so many suicides reported lately that I am concerned we are not any better off than we were a decade ago.  Last month I found out about the suicide of Jeret "Speedy" Peterson.  He had spoken out often about his battle with depression and now we are left without another talented person.  I just read on the news today that former NHL player, Rick Rypien, took his own life on Monday.  He had battled with depression for over a decade.  Also on Monday reality star of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Taylor Armstrong found her estranged husband Russel Armstrong dead.  He had hung himself after dealing with a difficult divorce, being in the media spotlight for alleged spousal abuse, and financial pressure.  While I am an advocate against violence against women because I survived an abusive marriage I still am a huge advocate of preserving life. The thing that struck me about about all of these suicides is that they all told people in their lives that they were "fine" the last time they spoke to them. 

The key to warding off the silent killer of suicide is to have a support system that knows you very well and can tell when you are not "fine" and just giving lip service.  My family members know me so well now that they know a tone in my voice that gives away my depression.  While not everyone has as much support as I do I would encourage anyone that suffers from depression to find some type of support that they can reach out to when they feel suicidal.  Mental illness should be treated just like any other medical condition and there is still so much more that needs to be done to make treatment equal to any other health conditions. 

Patrick Kennedy is a key person that is trying to push for more research on the human brain.  As his late uncle President John F. Kennedy pushed for moonshot, he calls this his new "moonshot" into inner space.  In 2008 he pushed to have mental illness health insurance coverage the same as all health conditions.  Kennedy also wants to push for the medical community to create a detailed map of the brain so that we can better understand mental illness and have better treatment.  I believe this is a good step in the right direction but so much more needs to be done before we lose even more talented people.  I don't just mean celebrities.  I mean someones mom, or your next door neighbor.  There are so many lives that are devastated after suicide kills and we should strive everyday to keep that tragedy from happening. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A day in the life of bipolar

I have not updated my blog lately because I have been in a very dark hole.  The past few months have been really tough.  I had fallen into a deep depression and it seemed like the dark clouds were never going to lift.  Being depressed for this period of time is like a bear going into hibernation for the winter.  All you want to do is sleep.  You don't care about anything in your life and you don't care if you never wake up again. Every night I would think this world would be better off without me and I would wish that I would not have to face another day.  I felt like a big waste of space and that I had nothing to offer to the world anymore. I had so many dark thoughts about how to end my life and what would be the best way to do that.  This is yet just another cycle of dealing with bipolar disorder.  Just when you think you have your medicine worked out and you life in order, the illness will throw you a curve ball. 

I was sleeping something like 16 hours a day and yet a felt so fatigued and had very low energy.  I stayed in bed for nearly a month.  I had very low interest in anything except watching tv.  I also would eat way too much because food can be comforting when the depression hits.  Everyday was so painful and I felt there is no way I could face another day.  I know I am not alone and I know I have people that love me but when you are this depressed nothing really can pull you out of the abyss.  I just had to hang onto anything I could to get through the past few months.  It's the longest depression cycle I have had in sometime.  So it just goes to show you that no matter how long you have had bipolar disorder there are still some days or months that are tough to deal with.  One of the harder things I deal with each day now is not being able to work and follow my dreams that I had so long ago.  I spent a great portion of my life working toward a career and now I can no longer feel the joys of the work environment.  But I have to listen to my doctor and he thinks it is best that I stay on disability because I have days or months like this and I would not be stable enough for a job.  So I carry on and just try to find the simple joys of life.  One thing that always helps me is being around my family and my niece and nephew can always bring a laugh and a smile to my face.  They are such a blessing to have in my life.  I seem to be on the the upside now and I was able to get out for a few days and enjoy the sunshine.  Surviving Bipolar Disorder a lot of times it just about making it through the rough times and finding what it is that can you can hold onto until your chemicals are back into balance. 

While I was watching all that tv during my depression, I was so sad to see that one of my favorite Olympians had killed himself.  Jeret "Speedy" Peterson took his own life last month.  I know he struggled for so long with his depression and suicide thoughts.  I know he must of been in so much pain when he took his life and the world will miss him so much.  My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family while they deal with such a huge loss. It just shows you that anyone can fall victim to depression and there is so much more that needs to be done to help people get through rough times.