I’ve written many times about mental illness based on my family experiences, which have mirrored others I’ve met in numerous state and local NAMI functions and even strangers who’ve shared with me. I’ve read numerous medical journals, scientific studies, and first-person accounts. One of the things that alarms me after a suicide are folks who speak with great authority on the subject, yet their opinions prove they have little actual experience with the disease.
My sister suffered with major depressive disorder and schizophrenia, the former being the most intractable to treatment. At times, she shared my excitement for the latest news and scientific studies in medical journals. She’d say, “Laura, don’t ever quit looking for an answer. I wouldn’t wish depression on my worst enemy.”
But then, once, in a dark moment, she wrote: "There are so many people who love me and they just do not know what to do. Nothing is the answer. I have to do this on my own."
It’s in those dark, impenetrable moments that one takes their life. For those of us on the outside, we cope in two ways. Some of us have the answers: the person was selfish, only thinking of themselves; if only they’d gotten right with God, he would’ve fixed it. Then there are others who honestly seek the truth of the matter. I wrote about the selfish angle on my blog last February after country singer Mindy McCready’s suicide. (Click here to read.) I certainly know the validity of spiritual wholeness with God in order to maintain one’s sanity because I’ve experienced that myself.
But major depression goes deeper, much deeper than either of these. It’s a riddle those of us who find ourselves in suicide’s aftermath struggle to unlock. After Robin Williams’ death two weeks ago, I asked two friends, Katy and Tammy, if they’d share their personal journeys with mental illness with my blog readers. Join me tomorrow and Thursday for a two-part series where these two ladies give a transparent and honest look into the heart of depression and bipolar. Even if you think you know about this disease, their stories will give you a fresh perspective.
© Laura Hodges Poole
"Why?" photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/Freedigitalphotos.net