In lieu of the two very tragic deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain this year, I want to remind all of you to be extra kind to one another for this is a perfect example of, “you have no idea what others are going through”. You may not feel that the subject of mental illness pertains to you, but it should, as more than likely someone in your life is going through something that you know nothing about.
My heart is so heavy and I am incredibly overwhelmed by the news this week as it hits home for me very hard. I feel that I must be the voice for those that have gone too soon. Those that were in so much pain that the only way to end their suffering was to take their life; my dad, Robin Williams, and so many others.
When we are taught the warning signs of mental illnesses, we are often shown images of individuals who look sad and in despair. Unfortunately, that is often not what someone who is depressed appears as. Take Robin Williams and many other comedians that put on a happy face for the public but are deep down hurting inside. Most of the time we have no idea that someone is fighting battles against themselves every day that are bigger than we can ever imagine.
In some of the hardest times of my life I have appeared the most happy and a majority of people if not all, to this day, probably were not aware of how low of a place I was in, which goes to show, once again, that you never know what people are going through because some of us are better at hiding it than others.
My father was battling demons that none of us were aware of because he was always the happy and funny guy. My dad was the life of the party wherever he went, earning nicknames such as senator because he knew so many people, and “the legend.” Many were very shocked to hear of my father’s passing as my dad was the last person that people imagined to have depression. He was ashamed that he had hit the lowest point in his life and didn’t want anyone to know of his illness.
Even after my father died it took me a very long time to admit to others that he had taken his life because I didn’t want to deal with peoples judgments. I was told by some that it was God's plan and that he was going to go to hell because that’s what the Bible says. As a society, we need to get rid of the stigma that we have with mental illness and until we do so individuals will continue to hide their pain as they will not feel comfortable enough coming forward with what they are going through.
Men, like my father, are more likely to commit suicide than women because they tend to hide their emotions more than women because they are supposed to be “strong and tough.” Woman are also taught by society, to be “pretty and perfect,” and if we show our emotions of sadness we are a crybaby or not womanly enough. We need to get past this and realize that having mental health issues is very common, so common that suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S.
Depression is a disease just like any other and should be treated as so. We need to spend more time talking with others and introducing exercise, meditation and other means other than anti-psychotic drugs to help others battling depression. My father put all of his trust in his doctors and psychiatrists who ended up prescribing him a cocktail of drugs to the point where is his speech was slurred. He wouldn’t go off the drugs because he believed that they would make him better because that’s what he was told. This is what took my father’s life. Medication should only be a short-term solution and should be very monitored.
Please if someone confides in you about being depressed or you are suspicious that they are going through a really hard time, reach out to them and simply let them know that you are there, want to help and will listen. If you think that someone is being dramatic when they say that they want to end their life and that they want attention, believe me, it is far from that. This is a cry for help, and you must listen to this cry for help and take action.
Please always remember to be kind to others because you have no idea what they are going through or what they have been through. I appreciate life so much and am very happy because of how much I have gone through. Those of us that appreciate life the most have been through battles that one can not comprehend.
My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of Kate and Anthony, for it is a feeling of pain that words can’t describe. Please, if you are feeling helpless and like you have no one to turn to, reach out to someone because you are not alone. I hope that the more this is discussed, the more lives will be saved. Please keep the conversation going. I am hopeful.
About Aisling Maher
Aisling works as a Paraprofessional in a moderate to severe special education class at Pacific Grove Middle School. She loves travelling and has a passion for helping others. On her days off you can often find her hiking in Big Sur, photographing landscapes, singing, drinking wine and or eating cheese! She has had Type One Diabetes for eighteen years and although it is a big struggle it has given her an appreciation and awareness of life that I would not have without it. She is passionate about spreading awareness about mental health as she lost her father, and has had her own struggles with it in the past. She hopes her openness can inspire others to ask for the help that they need. Instagram: @Aisling_marie__