There are times when the empathy that I have for others overwhelms me. I see the problems and feel the pain and take it onto myself. It is just something that I do. I know the darkness of depression, the want to be pain free, and it takes only one innocent to send me spiralling. I know the agony of anxiety, how it shakes one to the bone and I can’t sleep because they can’t sleep. I’m not psychic but I do recognize the signs of trouble.. I’ve been trouble for decades. I read the blogs of others who are screaming “help me!”. The people who could be of help don’t hear those plaintive cries. Some times the cryers are crying to themselves. Other times the spouse or friend has heard it so often that they ignore the cries.
I hear teens or people in their twenties talk about death and I am listening to a recording of my own tormented life. I survived by luck, by courage, by weakness and sometimes I’m not sure why. I do know that in the grip of the darkness, death seems to be the next logical step. It seems easy to do because people who are in pain die everyday. Dying from a mental illness is just as terminal as dying from cancer. The dangers are just as real because a distraught person may actively be looking for a way to die.
Fortunately, death isn’t as easy as it would seem. There are those who die by their own hand, it’s true. Many, many more fail for a couple of reasons. (maybe more). First, most don’t want to die. Also our bodies can be highly resilient. Drug overdoses aren’t a sure thing to cause death. The problem is that an overdose can cause more problems due to damage to organs or even the brain! A last minute change of mind can result in what could be a lethal accident into a disabling accident. Either way the mental and physical costs might be more than ever before.
Care givers are told not to take any life threat for granted. But caregivers too can suffer from too many close calls, or calls for help. A problem with mental illness is that it is invisible, a behaviour that would be alarming in some subjects might be over looked in others. Some people complain as a release for extended periods of time and it is accepted as normal. How does one tell when the next complaint is the alarm that needs to be tended?
Doctors and researchers can more readily treat physical ailments because oftentimes the symptoms are more readily observed. That is not to say that there aren’t good medicines out there to help symptoms of mental health. Millions of people get relief from SSRI’S and mood enhancing drugs. Finally, people with problems with psychosis are getting help from better chemicals. Atypical antipsychotics leave much fewer side effects than older medicines. Some are used off-label to treat Bi-polar disorder or severe depression that is treatment resistant. Most importantly, mental health issues need to be treated. Medicines, talk therapies, and psychiatry are the way to better health
One last thing. Don’t ignore a threat of suicide. It might be “just a cry for help” or it might be you depressed because your friend, spouse, roommate or whomever has died by their own hand.