It has been a long time since I posted. I’m sorry I didn’t write during Mental Health Month. I wanted to, but I couldn’t get the right words together. Also, my life has been very good lately. My moods are even, my relationships with my family have improved. I am working very hard to fight those demons. They try to get me, but I am in a good place and strong enough to fight back. However, in response to the recent tragedies, I feel compelled to explain the darkness that these artistic geniuses fight, in combination with the highs that most people see.
This darkness, this depression, goes far beyond what most people understand about mental health. It is hard to express in words. People who do not suffer this deep emotional pain, simply cannot fathom this feeling of being stuck into quicksand. Sufferers of this kind of depression withdraw into themselves. They feel they cannot relay the shear misery that is rolling around in their heads.
The thing about this mental illness is their friends, family, and fans only see and hear them when they are in their highs. All the quotes in the news state “They were so happy”, “I just talked to her yesterday and she sounded wonderful”. These people are con artists. They have perfected the art of hiding the demons in front of everyone. They can make you believe their life is just perfect. However, they cannot express in words the darkness they experience. They shut themselves away. They may say they just need some rest after working extremely hard for so many days. Their friends and family just tell themselves “She just needs a break”. They don’t question it. That is how she has always been and she comes back.
Look back at all the famous, brilliant artists who have taken their own lives. They thrive on their highs. They shine so bright for their friends, family and fans. No one ever sees the darkness because they have become experts at hiding it, explaining it away as being “tired”. I believe they are Empaths. They take on the misery of the world, of people downtrodden, any kind of tragedies other people are suffering. It becomes too much. It is so overwhelming, and they do not know how to express it to “normal” friends. They may express something “dark through their art. Looking back on these artists, they usually have periods when their creations are just a little “off”. People explain it away by telling themselves “she is in one of her moods”. They don’t want to disappoint anyone.
I know this is wordy. It is very hard to convey the darkness. You only see the good side. They are energetic, the life of the party, they shine in the limelight. They try hard to keep that high, but eventually they crash. Some days that can push through it. But there is that one day they cannot see beyond the pain, shame and loneliness. They have to stop the sinking, being sucked up in a black hole from which no one can pull them out. The misery has to stop.
Not everyone who suffers from mental illness suffers this badly. But, they still do not feel they can explain the darkness. We only see them when they are doing well. Stigma is a big reason. Healthcare is another. It is expensive to see Psychiatrists and Therapists. It takes over a month to get into seeing a Psychiatrist as a new patient. Psychiatrists are in short supply these days. So, they go to their Internists who doesn’t know the ins and outs of drugs that treat the different levels of mental illness. They do not understand the chemical imbalance of their patients, northe chemical effects of most antidepressants and mood stabilizers. The patient becomes frustrated. Most sufferers tend to self medicate. It is a vicious cycle.
What about the kids who suffer, who are taking their own lives at such young ages. We MUST start this dialogue with the younger kids. Teach them to express themselves at young ages. Start their day off with writing three things for which they are grateful. They do not have to share it with others. It is a way to start the day off with a positive note. How about having them write three good things that happened during their time at school at the end of the day. Train the teachers to look out for signs. These signs are subtle, but they are there. When the children get older and switch classes, teachers can tell the next teacher for that child that something seemed off. Two hours of inservice training is not enough. The vocabulary the school requires is very PC and, honestly, sounds dorky even to me. However, a fine line exists between helping children and setting off some kind of chain reaction.
I believe each school should have a therapy dog. After a recent tragic event at my daughter’s school, they brought in some therapy dog, and she said it was very helpful. Birmingham has program called Hand in Paws. You can get your dog trained to be a therapy dog. They send them to hospitals, nursing homes, schools and even work places. If you think your dog would be a good fit, call them. Donate to them. It is a marvelous concept!!
It also begins at HOME!!!! I know both parents work in the household now. Sit down dinners are a thing of the past. Families travel all over to watch their children play baseball, basketball and soccer. Kids goofing off in the neighborhood doesn’t exist anymore. They are now with personal trainers. Parents, young children should not be working with weights, etc. Their bodies are not equipped for that. I try to get the kids to put down their phones when we go somewhere or are sitting around at home. They fuss, but I think they actually like the excuse. We parents watch each others children excel, and have a thousand colored ropes around their necks at graduation. They all post “I cannot wait to see what the future holds”. EXCELLENCE takes precedence over peace of the heart and togetherness. Enough of my soap box. You have heard it before.
Suicide is the SECOND cause of death in teenagers. It is rising. We must start at the beginning, be proactive, break the wall that your child has built around his or her self. Don’t worry about “upsetting” them. I would rather piss my child off than bury him/ her. Teach them early how to handle adversity. Don’t solve their problems for them. They will never be able to cope.
This has been a long and wandering post. However, these things need to be addressed and shared. Begin early with your children. Savor those sweet moments when you and one of your children just wants to sit and talk nonsense. Just sit and listen. They are not asking for solutions. They are solving the problem by talking about the issues. THEY CAN DO IT BY THEMSELVES. You only need to be the backboard.