I was watching a news channel yesterday and came across a story about a man cycling for awareness of a disease that killed his wife. He wants to promote awareness and raise money and I applaud him for that. My problem was the way the news sanitized his wife's illness and death.
First, they both called her Depression a mood disorder. They did it repeatedly and then said that Depression had killed her. At no point did they mention mental illness anywhere in this supposed news article. At no point did they say that she killed herself.
My problem with this is that it seemed very sanitized, very PC, very scrubbed clean and there is nothing clean or orderly about Depression.
Is Depression a mood disorder? Yes, but lets call a spade a spade shall we? Depression is a MENTAL ILLNESS. Say it. Say it often, roll it around in your mouth until it feels familiar. Stop being afraid of these two words. Stop shying away from this term. We as sufferers have learned to use it without attaching stigma to it and so should everyone else. This woman didn't have Leprosy, she had Depression. It doesn't need to be dumbed down or sugar coated. It certainly wasn't sugar coated for her when she was suffering from it. She killed herself. Her Depression made her life so unbearable, so unspeakable, she was so desperate, she suffered so much that suicide, to her, seemed like the only option. Don't you dare sugar coat or undermine what she went through.
You see, as a mentally ill person, I find the sanitizing and politically correct scrubbing of the struggles we go through on a daily basis an insult. It represents that what we go through is somehow less painful or less ugly or more acceptable.
This woman didn't die from Depression. She committed suicide. There, I said it. I know it is hard for other people to hear that word, or read that word, or understand that word but you can not and should not whitewash that word into something less awful, less devastating. Because there is nothing beautiful or soothing about suicide. Yes, Depression is the reason she killed herself but say that. Don't over look the choice she made and the horrors she faced by saying she died from Depression and not explain what it made her do. If for some reason, you can not bring yourself to say the word suicide then simply say she lost her battle with Depression.
Look, I am sorry that the words mental illness and suicide make other people uncomfortable. You should try living with them and see how uncomfortable that is. The point is, we don't have time to scrub away the ugly thoughts about these two words. Mental illness and suicide are ugly. We should know. In a country where suicide takes away somebody's loved one every 13 minutes, I hardly think we need to waste time trying to sanitize something that needs to be talked about openly because only then can we get real and start making changes to a broken system that allows good people to fall through the cracks. This system is damaged and defunct and until we start looking at this problem as an actual problem nothing will change and it has to. Suicide is 100% preventable. And yet we as a society are too afraid to look into the dark abyss where it dwells because we are scared. Our society is cowardly when it comes to anything that deals with mental illness or suicide and it is proven and reiterated every single time this subject comes up. Because they white wash it. They sweep it under the rug. They look for other excuses. Or like in this case, they simply exclude these three words altogether.
If you want to help us, if you want to change the system than you have to stop making excuses. You have to stop shying away form reality. A reality that all of us that suffer are very familiar with. You have to say words like mental illness, pain, suicide and you have to own them when you speak. You have to look people in the eye when talking about them. You have to stop promoting the stigma with your fear and be fearless. After all, we are fearless when talking about these things because we have no choice and if you want to be part of the solution than you have no choice either. We are not a side line. We are not a cutline. It is not a sidebar. It is the story. We are the story. We are real and our suffering is real and we deserve to have it talked about it, exactly like how it is. No sanitizing, no white washing, no scrubbing clean.......you cannot diminish the pain of mental illness by minimizing it's affects so you are less uncomfortable with the reality of it.