There are no words

I listened to S Town this week.  I knew early on in the first episode what would happen to John.  He said he couldn’t describe his darkness in words, but I think he did a damn good job.  Maybe that is because I could relate to the darkness John experienced at times.  I could relate to the highs as well.  Manic Depression, Bipolar, is a beast.  It will alter your life.

Unfortunately, I believe some people battling this beast will not ever respond well to the solutions of this mental health world.  Not enough medicines or therapy can “cure” those genius’s who suffer so deeply at times.  John was one of these people.  So were Einstein and Van Gogh.  Don Mclean sang it true in “Starry Starry Night”: “How you suffered for your sanity” and “This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you”.  John was beautiful.  Beneath his crude language and disparaging look on life, was a genius.  He was an artist.  I believe true, genius artisans suffer from this world the most.  John expressed the beautiful side of  him through his hedge maze, gardens, and especially his clock “work”.

Minds like John’s, Einstein’s and Van Gogh’s just do not understand this world.  I’m not a genius by any means on their level, but I totally get it.  Those of you who do not experience the darkness as these men have, and so many people today, do not understand.  Your practical minds cannot understand the beast that can tear up your mind and skew the world into this dark, tornadic hell.

John tried to cry out for help so many times.  Bibb County did not have the means to help someone like John.  They do not have access to the medical community or even the literature to help someone like John.  I believe he tried medications once early on, but they dulled his brilliant brain and he could not express himself as well as when he is without the meds.  I have experienced that throughout my life.  I have been over medicated at times to the point I was a hollow shell, numb to the world around me, almost as bad as the depression I battle.

A large group exists that believe you will go to hell if you commit suicide.  To those living in the darkest depths of this world are essentially in hell.  The world can be too much for them.  Any place would be better than this living darkness.

For the majority of those battling mental health, I believe solutions do exist.  Research and medication have  come a long way.  More people, famous or not, are speaking out and trying to reduce the stigma.  However, it is still not enough.  I was looking at a company the other day that sponsored three different cancer fund raisers and nothing close to any mental health fund raising organization.  Mental health touches just as many people.  But it will take time.  It took a long time for people to recognize the scope of cancer.

In many instances, it is too late.  Teenage suicide attempts and completions are on the rise.  They are the second leading cause of death in this age group.  The Jason Foundation (jasonfoundation.com) is one such entity battling the epidemic.  Many states, including Alabama, have passed the Jason Flatt Act.  It requires school to include training and education in suicide awareness during the in-service training.  It stands to reason since educators, coaches, etc. end up seeing  our kids more often than we do as they get older.

Suicide is tragic no matter how you slice it.  I am not saying that it cannot be prevented with those like John, Einsten and, lets not forget, Robin Williams.  I just think that the darkness in these brilliant minds is too much to bear.

Remember, it is Mental Health Month!!!!

 

FULL CIRCLE

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I had a date with my husband for the first time in FOREVER last night.  It was the perfect storm.  All the kids were out and about and taken care of.  Well, John was laid up in bed after having his wisdom teeth taken out:)

We didn’t go far; just down to Billy’s.  We wanted to stay close in case John needed us.  It wasn’t fancy either.  It was just us.  There are times when Dennis and I are the only ones at home but that is not always conducive to really sitting down and talking about what is going on.  There is always a pile of laundry or bills to pay or sales calls to make.  Their is too much clutter at home to clear your head and talk about us.  These are the times when we reconnect, recharge our marriage and find out something new about each other.  I wish we could do it more often but in reality, with four children, we just don’t have that time.  We have to wait for the perfect storm:)

In the past week, I have had lunch with my high school English teacher whom I have not seen since 1985 and  with my cousin who is like a sister to me.  My sisters don’t live in town and my cousin and I are just as close if not closer. I used to be her nanny.  Her youngest child’s diaper was the first one Dennis ever changed:)  I also got to spend some time with one of my oldest BFFs doing flowers for the church.  This is the church in which my grandmother, mother and  I were all married.

Between AWARE, my church and my friends and family, I feel like I am truly able to give back now.  When you are sick, be it physical or mental, your only option is to take from those who can give it to you.  When it is a physical illness, it is easier to take the help given to you.  That is not the case when it is a mental illness.  It is hard for people to understand why you can’t just go fold those clothes or make up the bed or unload the dishwasher.  Those are easy things to do right?   Why can’t you just do them?  Because WE CAN’T.  WE NEED HELP.

I still get depressed and manic.  That is just a part of myself I have come to terms with.  But I have tools to get better and I know when to ask for help before things get too bad.  I am not cured.  I am in remission.  There is no guarantee that I may not have to be hospitalized again.  You will know it when I do because I will share my journey with you.  I have a new voice now.  I have a new outlook and a new goal:  to help you understand that DEPRESSION IS AN ILLNESS.

AWARE is out of the honeymoon phase now.  The momentum of the tragedies has waned.  The number of new members on the AWARE page has dwindled.  BUT WE ARE NOT GIVING UP.  We are in it for the long haul. We have some great things planned for the fall.  If you have seen the comedian on Ted Talks who talks about his depression you are in for a treat.  He has agreed to come speak in September.  We need help though.  We need you.  We need you to help on a planning committee.  We need help finding a venue and someone to sponsor that venue.  Let us know if you want to help.

Being a Birmingham native and being gone for 10 years, I see things with a fresh eye.  My experiences from my time away have pushed me to help this community make some changes.  My English teacher laughed and said she may be embarrassed to be seen with me.   I know I have ruffled some feathers but change doesn’t happen without growing pains.  Every single person in the community if affected by mental illness and suicide.  Don’t kid yourself.  That mom next door who is perfectly made up each day and has her children dressed to the nines each day is absolutely miserable.  I know because you have told me.

We need the city’s and school’s support.  We don’t want them to cure depression or prevent suicide.  We need them to work with us and let us use their venues and email lists.  If they don’t I will be entering in every single contact I have from all  6 school’s directories myself.  Anyone want to help?:)

A plethora of reasons exist as to why we moved back.  One of the main ones is my illness.  I needed to be near better hospitals and doctors.  It has been a hard move on the children.  I will not sugarcoat it.  I second guess myself all the time whether this was a good idea or not.  But I don’t think I would have been able to fight this illness had we not been able to make some changes.  I know God had his hand in it. I know deep in my heart that this move will have a positive lasting impact on my family and this community.  It already has.  I have come full circle.

Enjoy this beautiful day.