This week I had an eye opening conversation.
I was talking with a co-worker and Seth’s death came up.
She asked me how I am doing with it all and I could only come up with “It sucks. It hurts really bad. It really really sucks.”
She then said “Melinda, I just don’t get it. You are such an amazing person. Seth’s suicide makes no sense to me. Why would he leave such an amazing person??”
I was speechless.
I just wanted to scream at her “He was mentally ill!! What does that have to do with me being an amazing person?? He was sick! That’s like saying someone with cancer won’t die because they have an amazing wife at home!”
I felt like I failed. I felt like I needed to defend myself and my marriage. And I decided not to.. because what I had to say to her wasn't friendly or professional.
And clearly she doesn't have the first clue about mental illness.
Stigma slapped me in the face.. again.
People have this illusion that if you have an amazing life and marriage, that life is worth living. That all the amazing things in life override mental illness.
Frankly I am sick of the stigma that revolves around mental illness.
I’m sick of suicide being shameful.
I’m sick of mental illness not being talked about.
I’m sick of the stigma.
I’m sick of how mental illness is whispered about behind closed doors.
I kept my husband’s mental illness private. Very few people knew what was going on with him. I whispered about it to my closest friends and family. Why? Because Seth was ashamed of it and I respected his privacy.
And when he killed himself, it left people completely dumbfounded because Seth “never seemed depressed” and I had hid his secret for far too long.
But what did that do? It kept him isolated. It pushed him further into a hole because he had no one to talk to. Because he was too ashamed to talk about it.
One of my favorite quotes – “We’re only as sick as the secrets we keep” – Maria Nemeth
Mental illness needs to be talked about. Not whispered about behind closed doors.
Suicide is at an all time high, yet it’s whispered about. WHY?
Do I really need to point out the elephant in the room?
“Every 40 seconds somewhere around the world someone dies by suicide, that’s 99 people every 66 minutes. Every day, that’s almost 100 people in the United States alone, and over 2160 worldwide."
Why are we whispering about this?