You Killed Kate Spade

You killed Kate Spade.

You killed her every time you stepped back when someone said: “I have bipolar disorder.”

You killed her every time you said: “I don’t think it’s healthy to take that medication just to feel normal”

You killed her every time you said: “Happiness is a choice so choose to be happy!”

You killed her every time you implied that she wasn’t trying.

You killed her every time you judged her for not getting out of bed and making an effort.

You killed Kate Spade.

It’s hard to hear those things isn’t it? It’s almost unfair to accuse someone of a crime that they didn’t commit. However if you ever said or did any of those things, you are participating in a crime that has plagued us for decades: The stigma against mental illness.

I hate that we are still having this conversation. We are the most educated creatures; we have gone to the moon, we have made significant advances in medicine, we have invented technology that makes our lives easier, and yet we still cannot accept that someone whose illness doesn’t have a specific “cure” or cannot be easily articulated is just as valid as a cancer or a diabetes patient.

Someone can say “I have cancer and I’m undergoing treatment.” They are embraced and told how brave they are and how strong they are. That same person says “I have bipolar disorder and I’m undergoing treatment.” People step back as if that person has leprosy.

I’m so tired, I’m so very tired of having this conversation and writing these posts. I’m tired of facing the stigma myself and justifying that my illness is just as valid as someone whose illness has a set in stone treatment plan and can be explained easily. The brain is probably the most important and enigmatic organ in the human body, scientist still haven’t figured it out completely. Why is it so hard to accept something that we cannot understand, and believe that one day we might?

This stigma is literally killing people. Kate Spade did not seek help because of how people are viewed with bipolar disorder. Carrie Fisher, who had literally no fucks to give to anyone about what they thought about her, fought her entire life against it; telling people that it is okay to feel the way you do and even Princess Leia could not win against the battle of mental health stigma. Demi Lovato who fights every day with an eating disorder, addiction, and depression is open about her struggles and offers help to those when she is on tour.

And all of this still isn’t enough. People still stigmatize those of us whose illnesses they cannot see and it is killing those who are affected. Let me throw some numbers at you, this is for Maryland, my home state and is from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

Maryland-State-Facts

More people die by suicide annually in Maryland than by homicide.

Let that sink in for a second. I’ll say it again:

More people die by suicide annually in Maryland than by homicide.

That is astounding and unacceptable. Suicide is a completely preventable death and we are doing nothing to prevent it. We aren’t reaching out beyond our comfort zones and asking people “How can I help?” And when we do get an answer it should be “Okay I may not be able to help you but damn it I’m going to find someone who can, what is your doctor’s number? What is your therapists number?” or “We’re going to get you somewhere safe and we’re going to get you help okay?”

That’s all it takes. People just want someone to validate them, to know that someone cares, and that they matter. This is not someone that is selfish, it’s someone that’s hurting. It’s someone who can’t see the light beyond all of the darkness in their life, who can’t see the value in themselves. It’s someone who can’t hear beyond the voices in their head screaming at them “You are not enough, no one would care if you died.”

Imagine for a minute if you had three people screaming at you “You’re stupid, You’re worthless. You’re not enough” all the time and you could not get rid of them. They were there when you woke up and followed you all day and all night until you somehow managed to get to sleep and start it all over again the next day. That’s how it feels. That’s what it’s like. That is why people kill themselves. It’s not because they’re selfish or seeking attention, it’s because they are hurting and have believed those voices telling them that they are stupid, worthless, and that they are not enough.

The first time I was hospitalized for suicidal ideation I was 25, the second time I was 27, the third and fourth time I was placed in a life saving outpatient program to avoid hospitalization and get the intense therapy and medication adjustment I needed. I never wanted to die, I didn’t attempt to do so—but I was just so tired of fighting those voices in my head. I was so very tired. I’m not a selfish person, far from it, and I never was attention’s sweet center either—I am mostly someone who sits on the sidelines. I am a writer after all and we are a hermitish type anyway.

I want to close this by speaking to those who may be hurting, who may even be battling with this demon and very close to loosing.

I want you to know that you are validated in your pain. My feet are a different size than yours, but I have walked in your footsteps. You are a human being. You are not depression. You are not your diagnosis, you are a human being of this universe who has a purpose. Human beings were meant to feel friend, to not do so would take away an integral part of you. An extremely wise individual told me once that our emotions are not us. Yes we are responsible for our emotions, but they are not who we are. You are the greatest person in your world friend, you are important and you matter. You are enough.

I know it sucks, it hurts like hell and you are broken–but you can rise dear friend. You are not just an empty space, you have something beautiful to give to this world. It feels so agonizingly lonely–but you’re not alone. I want you to know that there is hope, for someone to feel so much you must know that. To have made it this far…that’s an accomplishment. You have made it to a new day each day, a new hour, a new minute–all the while having those demons following you. Do you know how much strength it takes to do what you have done? Do you know that you are one of the strongest people in this world? To challenge, even a little bit, those thoughts and feelings of worthlessness takes a tremendous amount of strength and hope.You are not a sinner, you are not evil, you are not a bad person, and you’re definitely not selfish. You ache, you long, and you’re suffering. You’re sick, not selfish.

Life isn’t easy. It will beat you down and break you. But don’t loose hope, there is something in this world worth living for. You matter very much. To have a mental illness–it means many things to different people but you are the author of your story no one else. That’s the beauty of it friend, no one can take your pen from you. You are the author! You can continue, there is hope.

I will close with a line from one of my favorite poems, Today Means Amen by Sierra DeMulder:

“Nothing would be the same if you did not exist.”

 

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: https://afsp.org/

If you are having these thoughts: https://afsp.org/find-support/im-having-thoughts-of-suicide/

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

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