Tag Archives: #EndTheStigma

Another Precious Life Lost

As reported in the New Orleans Advocate, a 24 year old Harahan man, “…whose behavior was consistent with bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia…” was released from a mental facility and committed suicide. His father rightly thought he was not ready cope with his life.

I have bipolar disorder and am quite healthy, perhaps a beacon for those who are struggling with the disorder. I have had suicidal thoughts three times in my life.   Suicidal thoughts are usually—as they were with me—accompanied by a deep sense of sadness, depression and lack of hope. A person with such thoughts can be violent to others, but the statistics show by far that these troubled souls are a much greater danger to themselves than to others.

We can and do build all sorts of prisons. Why can’t we build and maintain adequate mental facilities to avoid these deaths, deaths that are far too often young people who are inwardly crying out for help, purpose and meaning in their life? It is not only in the psychiatrist, psychologist or other therapist offices that we can prevent these suicides and violent acts. We need a long-term program in loving spiritual entities, schools which teach wisdom values, families with those same values and kindness from people to people everywhere. The good news is that medical science is learning more and more about the brain, psychiatry, and psychology and how the mind, body and what I call a “little piece of God” works.

Say a prayer for Matthew Milam and one for others who are at risk in the future.

Precious Lives Lost in Lafayette, Louisiana

Two beautiful young women who had everything to live for were shot and killed in a movie theatre in Lafayette, LA on Thursday night, July 23rd.  News reports differ on whether it was seven or nine others wounded in the shooting.  The perpetrator was described as a “gunman [who] had a history of mental illness” in The New Orleans Advocate. He committed suicide after the shootings.

According to NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness), 1 in 5 adults experiences a mental health condition every year. 1 in 20 lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. In addition to the person directly experiencing a mental illness, family, friends and communities are also affected. These statistics are not in any way presented to minimize the tragedy in Lafayette, but to better understand the scope of mental illness.

I have bipolar disorder and am quite healthy as are many, many others under modern medications and therapy, and with the help of supportive friends, families and others, not to mention diet, exercise and everything else that all of us need to thrive.  Acceptance of one’s diagnosis and cooperation with professionals is important in reaching and sustaining a mind, body, spirit balance.

The tragedy in Lafayette, LA amplifies the conversation about mental illness and the general lack of mental health resources that exist for most individuals, their families and the community at large. Horrific news such as this can multiply the depression and magnify the stigma of others who have mental illness. Informed kindness to all – within the person who lives with mental illness and especially the friends and family who surround and support them – is important to fighting depression and internalized stigma.

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (http://www.dbsalliance.org/) is an important resource for those who live with depression and bipolar disorder.  Many local support groups (about 300 nationally) provide peer sharing as well as helpful pamphlets and books. From time to time a speaker such as a psychiatrist or other relevant person makes a presentation or answers questions from a professional point of view. Additionally the above web site has a wealth of on-line information.

Thankfully, we are learning more and more about mental illnesses of all kinds, from therapy to medications to a basic understanding of the brain itself. During the course of my own bipolar disorder—from 1963 till the present—there have been enormous improvements in treatment. Friends and family are also of continuing importance.

End the Stigma of Mental Illness

If you or someone you know suffers from depression, bipolar disorder, or the like, I urge you to review this Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. We must show kindness, to ourselves and others. This is an important first step toward ending the stigma that plagues those suffering with mental illness (and other types of illnesses). I welcome your feedback.