Dan – the trauma of losing you has passed. But the grief of missing you, and my love for you, is just as strong as ever.
It’s been 13 years today since I lost my fiance, Dan Rieske, to Clinical Depression. He had a potentially fatal disease, yet he refused to seek medical treatment because our society told him it wasn’t a physical illness but a weakness of character. He was ashamed by his illness because the world around him told him he should be ashamed.
My daughter also has a mental illness, and the same society that drove Dan to suicide also tells her the same thing. “It’s all in your head” “You’re such a weirdo” “You just want attention” “You need to get off all that medication and find out what the real problem is” “Everyone gets depressed, you just need to learn better coping skills”
Hey society, we know what the problem is – a chemical imbalance in the brain. Dan and my daughter and everyone else with a mental illness have no more reason to be ashamed than a person with Alzheimer’s, or brain cancer, or Parkinson’s disease, or any other physical disability in their brain.
Our society is the one who should be ashamed. Every person who has ever questioned my parenting skills, or my daughter’s character, or pushed me for the “real” reason Dan committed suicide – should be ashamed.
Lighting a Candle near a Window at 8 PM offers people who cannot participate in a World Suicide Prevention Day event the opportunity to observe the Day in a private and personal way. Visit the official website here: IASP – World Suicide Prevention Day
The theme of World Suicide Prevention Day this year is “Stigma: A Major Barrier to suicide Prevention.” Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the world, especially among young people. Nearly one million people worldwide die by suicide each year. This corresponds to one death by suicide every 40 seconds. The number of lives lost each year through suicide exceeds the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined. These staggering figures do not include nonfatal suicide attempts which occur much more frequently than deaths by suicide.
I received a very compelling and thought provoking comment on my post, They Don’t Want to Die. They Just Want Attention. You can read the entire comment, as well as my reply there. But to sum up, Wren challenged my use of the phrase “suicide survivor” as applying to those left behind after the suicide of a loved one. Here is an excerpt of that comment:
“I know what people mean when they say “suicide survivor” – that a loved one has taken their own life. I’m unaware of any other disease or condition that people die from where others call themselves “survivors of.” Relatives of people who have died of cancer don’t call themselves “cancer survivors.” Instead, they have lost a loved one TO cancer…
The closest I ever came to committing suicide involved holding a loaded gun to my head. It was a few weeks after my fiancée, Dan, had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. When my finger touched the trigger, it was pure exhilaration. There was no sadness, no despair, no darkness. It was pure joy. When I began to increase the pressure on the trigger, everything that had ever been in my life just opened up and fell away from me.
I have not been nearly as active on my blog and WordPress in general as I would like, and I want to share the reason with you.
I’ve been caring for my elderly mother at my home for the past 7 weeks. She had been hospitalized after a fall at her house in Indiana and I brought her back to Seattle with me to help her recover. I already knew it in my heart, but two days ago she was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. And it’s fairly advanced, on the border between moderate and severe.
She will be with me for another three weeks, and then I have to take her back home to my dad. I’ll probably stay there for a week or so, to help her get settled in back at home. So, for at least the next month I imagine I won’t be much more active than I am now.
Please do you part to help end the stigma of mental illness. It is just as serious, deadly, and caused by conditions outside the control of the sufferer – as cancer, asthma, or heart attack. People with mental illness do not have a “mental condition”. They have a physical condition which causes symptoms that manifest as “mental”. Just like Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, or any other disorder of the brain. Thank you.