Welcome to Ask April, a no-nonsense advice column focusing on what it is you can do to correct things that need correcting. While we all know much in life is out of our control, and sometimes, our reaction is all we CAN control- we really do have a lot of personal power, thankfully. Our will is just as important as the wills of others around us, and while we need to be considerate, we also need to make sure others are equally considerate of us. It is my hope that when you write in to me, asking advice, that I can help you make a good decision that somehow improves whatever situation you’ve found yourself in. As with anything I share, I recommend people don’t automatically take my word for anything, but include my advice in with the rest of the things that help them make a decision. I wish you well. Read on.
Every other week, I answer a call for advice, and every other week, I share my views on something I observed- I call this Observational Wisdom.
I write this just days after the tragic suicide of musician Chester Bennington. Both he, and Chris Cornell, who also died by suicide, were very vocal about their struggles with mental health issues.
Immediately following their deaths, people who did not know either of them took to the internet, calling them both selfish and cowards.
It is times like these that humanity truly disgusts me.
How can a human being be so lacking in compassion as to bash people whose disease caused them to suffer so greatly, they found being alive so unbearable they killed themselves? While some call it ignorance about mental health challenges, I don’t see it that way. I see this as hostility to both the deceased, as well as their grieving loved ones.
How would you like to wake up, and find your loved one had taken their lives, and the world was talking about it? To find condolences, prayers and support would be wonderful, but the people calling suicide cowardly or selfish? These people have absolutely no clue the amount of anguish dealt with from depression.
Some think it is funny to say “Take a pill.” Oh, what a miracle it would be if a pill helped everybody!
Reality is that mental illness is 75% misdiagnoised, and of the 25% properly diagnosed, only 25% benefit from psychiatric drugs. Side effects of psychiatric drugs can create so many problems ranging from being turned into a zombie to severe allergic reactions, that taking the medication can be worse than the illness they are designed to treat to begin with.
So no, we can’t all just “Take a pill.”
Yes, I said “we.”
I am one of those “crazy people” whose condition affects my life on a daily basis. I suffer from such bad anxiety, it is difficult for me to leave the house. It did not get this bad until two-and-a-half years ago, when I was put on a new heart rate medication at the same time I got mono. I had developed driving anxiety a few years prior, and stayed off the highways, and close to home unless I had somebody with me as a result. I could still work, and get myself from place to place just fine. I could go on out of state trips, and could do all the off highway driving.
Once the illness hit, the panic attacks started regularly.
The physical symptoms I had were initially brushed aside due to the mono, and I was told to sleep it off for a month. I eventually resigned from my job, and had to give up driving because the condition affected my vision. I was soonafter diagnosed with asthma.
I did volunteering locally for a year, and had a part time job in town for another year, which ended when the business closed.
Now, I’m jjust a housewife, and I feel like an utter failure. I experience a lot of self-loathing these days. I used to be a go-getter, and now, just going to the grocery store is overwhelming sometimes. I don’t know who I am anymore, but I do know, I do not like the person I have become one bit.
The fear of what is going to happen to me and if I am ever going to fully recover has created a mental state of terror, and all I will say about it is I am damned thankful I don’t have kids who are watching me be the way I am.
I leave the house seldomly, and only with somebody. I drive short distances, but only with my husband in the car with me, and never anyplace with heavy traffic. I have been on the highway only twice in the past eight months, and if I don’t ever ride on a highway again, I will be happy about that.
I can truly say, if I did not have my husband, who is so loving and devoted, I am pretty sure I would have killed myself already.
What we wonder is if this regular anxiety would ever surfaced if I had never caught the mono. At this point, that doesn’t matter. What we also wonder is if all of this anxiety is going to go away when, and IF I get back on my feet and am more independent again.
With my family history of mental instability, I highly doubt it some days. I have to live with the fear this could come back again someday, even if it disappears.
Right now, I never know when a bad day will strike, and I can be feeling just fine, and all of the sudden, start feeling like hell. That is the physical side of this.
I have felt like hell for two weeks, today being the first day that I have not.
The mental side of this is the fear, anxiety, and thankfully, much less panic attacks. The combination is horrible.
So, pardon me if I don’t look down on people who couldn’t handle what was happening to them anymore.
When I was still an Xtian, a woman named Jo who was in her 80’s was a good friend of mine. We had met when I walked into her antique mall- or onto her sidewalk that was being paved, and was up to my ankles in wet cement, I should say! Yes, that happened! After that, we had many memorable visits. On one she told me “They say god never gives us more than we can handle, but people kill themselves all the time because they couldn’t handle all that was given to them.” Jo went on to say she did not believe god gave people their struggles, and sorrows. She also believed god did not punish people who committed suicide. This was a woman whose father was a violent alcoholic, and who was a childless widow twice over. If anybody knew suffering, Jo did. She also knew her god well enough to know, god was not to blame for human suffering.
Maybe it takes living through a horrible illness like I have, or an abusive childhood and being widowed like Jo did to be compassionate and not condemn people whose suffering became unbearable.
It’s a shame that as human beings, it takes unspeakable suffering to make us compassionate, sometimes.
These singers who tragically took their lives were somebody’s children. They had spouses, and children of their own. They were loved, and loved others. They were not objects to be mused upon by those who looked down on them, and they certainly did not commit a crime or sin in taking their lives to deserve demonization by strangers after their deaths.
That so many outwardly condemn those whose mental health cause death says a lot about us as a people. We do not value proper mental health. Many with mental health challenges cannot take care of themselves materially, let alone advocate for themselves. Millions upon millions of dollars in this country goes to corporate welfare for corrupt CEO’s of big business, and for war, of course, but we “cannot afford” increased funding for mental health, let alone a single payer healthcare system that covers us all.
As a Nation, we value maintaining riches for the corrupt, and war- both of which equal death for those outside of the “elect”. A majority of people claiming to want organized overthrow of these systems DID NOT VOTE for president, nor did they vote for the local government seats that are in charge of making the decisions that could recreate America.
By not voting, many voted to keep things as they are. The result is the beginning of a civil war in this country of people who want to keep things in place, and those who don’t.
The war is happening in both the streets in organized protests Nationwide, and on social media where strangers bash one another, condemn one another, and sever ties due to differences in opinion of things they would not even argue about in person.
This culture of hatred of those who are not 100% like us in every single way has created just the divisions those in power like to see. It keeps us from joining together and creating change.
But hey, it’s a lot more fun to hate on a dead man, and write personal essays all over social media of how much you condemn his as a selfish coward because his disease killed him.
It is beyond heartbreaking and tragic that people find themselves faced with the decision to stay alive and suffer, or end this life, hoping the next is better. I can’t say trying to be understanding will make you know how it feels to contemplate suicide, but I can say that once you have been faced with such horrible suffering, the thought crossed your mind, you will not be so quick to judge or condemn anybody who dies by their own hand.
May you never know that horrible feeling, but may you never criticize somebody who does.