Tag Archive: suicide


As children we believe that we are the center of everything, that is why children who experience the trauma of problems in the family, such as marital discord and divorce, often blame themselves for it. It is just part and parcel of childhood development, It is even worse when parents appear to blame us by behavior that seems to be rejecting of us. Of course there are times when that is perception and there are times when the rejection is real. But do we know the motives behind these behaviors? Not always, because once again we think it is about us, not them.


Grief (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The problems in my family were not about marital discord, but something that shook the very foundations of the entire family, the death of my brother. This is perhaps the most traumatic thing that can happen to parents, and it often results in divorce. In my parents’ case, they supported each other, which was good, but that does not mean that the family dynamics were not dramatically affected.

It has taken me a long time to put the pieces together and realize how much of my parents’ behavior towards me was a result of this. Some of the details I only found out about as an adult. My therapist also helped me to understand this better as well. I am now in a position where I am able to finally put myself in their place, rather than letting my wounded inner child carry the whole narrative. Perhaps I should have seen this earlier, I am now 50 years old, but better late than never.

From my earliest recollections, I never felt loved. My mother was critical and rejecting of me and my father was distant. I never bonded with either of them. There are many reasons for this dynamic, but one of the big ones was the accidental death of my older brother at age six. I was only a year and a half old when this happened and my sister was four,

Looking at family pictures is very telling. My sister for instance looked very happy and care-free before this happened. Afterwards I can see the birth of the very serious sister that I knew growing up.

I don’t remember my brother, yet oddly enough I miss him. A piece of the family went missing and never came back. I am told that he adored me, and would crawl along behind me on the floor and call me “baby-doll.”

The trauma didn’t actually start with his death, although that was the climax of it. He was always a sickly child. Born prematurely, he had a defect in his stomach valve that caused him to have serious fits of vomiting, where he became dehydrated enough to require medical attention. Insurance laws on pre-existing conditions back then made it extremely difficult for him to get the surgery he needed to correct the problem. Family pictures show him as a happy child, but pale and skinny. He looked similar to pictures I have seen of children with cancer.

Eventually he did have the surgery, but it did not fix the problem. During another one of his vomiting episodes my mother took him to the doctor. His regular doctor was out of the office, but another one was covering for him. My parents at that time had no idea that he was not a pediatrician. He gave my brother a shot of compazine for the nausea and sent him home.

The following details I only got from my father after my mother passed. I never knew the exact details of my brother’s death but they are horrifying.

In the afternoon my mother got a call from the doctor. He told her that he thought she should take my brother to the hospital. But my brother had stopped vomiting so she assured him that everything was fine. She just thought the doctor was acting out of an abundance of caution.

That night my brother died in his sleep. An autopsy showed that he had fluid in his lungs. The medical examiner believed that he aspirated vomit.

My father was very suspicious about the whole thing and went to see the pediatrician. Having not treated my brother himself he looked in the medical record. He did not have much to say to my father, but he left the record with my dad before leaving and asked for him to take it to the front desk. My father believes this was intentional, that the doctor wanted him to see what was in there. My father took note of what drug he was given and the dosage. When he looked it up he discovered that the doctor had given him the ADULT dose of the drug!

And the most horrible part of the whole thing is that obviously the doctor at some point realized what he had done, which is why he made the strange call to my mother. But he was too chicken to tell the truth so he could get help!

The way compazine works to stop vomiting is to reduce the gag reflex but it also reduces the choking reflex as well. In an appropriate dose that is not a problem. But in the dose that my brother was given it completely eliminated it. My mother gave him water before putting him to bed. That water went straight into his lungs, explaining the autopsy results.

My mother blamed herself for not taking him to the hospital. She felt that she had put finances before my brother’s well-being because my father had just gotten a new job and they did not have insurance yet. Of course it was never her fault but that did not stop her from feeling guilty.

My father put the blame where it belonged and went to a lawyer but at that time the doctors were the ones who had all the powerful lawyers so it would have been almost impossible to win the case. Furthermore my father had no money to pursue this. And it was not going to bring my brother back anyway.

So here was my grief stricken mother who was trying to hold it all together and still take care of two young children, one just a baby. No wonder I felt rejected, she simply couldn’t deal with it all. My sister was probably old enough to be sensitive to the situation and try not to be a bother. Even before my brother died though, my mother most likely was having some trouble taking care of me because my brother was sick all the time.

Things were very bad for my father as well. In fact I can’t even imagine how he had the strength to keep going. He had to take time off from his new job to take care of funeral arrangements. And his boss bullied him over it. And not just him, but my father’s co-workers as well. My father has told me that they actually made sick jokes about my brother’s death. And he also told me something that shocked me even more than that. He said that this is the kind of bullying that makes people want to kill themselves. Then he said “But suicide would not have solved anything.”

Even as I write this down I am fighting back tears. My poor, poor brave father! No one should ever have to go through that!

He actually stayed at the job because they needed the money. So day after day he had to keep going. He was fired eventually, and this same boss blacklisted him, so he could not get another job. But my father got lucky on one count. He talked to someone who knew this boss and it turns out this guy had something scandalous on him, and told my father not to worry, that he would take care of the situation. The blacklisting stopped.

After putting this all together how can I not have empathy for what both of them went through? I would not have been able to endure that.

I now know that it wasn’t about me. The rejection I felt was from two people who were struggling to keep their heads above water. And they made it. They loved my sister and I enough to keep going.

God bless them both.





This is such a realistic and compassionate point of view on Robin William’s suicide that I just have to share it. Be warned that this may be triggering for some people.

From the Patheos blog Camels With Hammers


Robin Williams’s Verdict on Life





May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I have decided to do a series on resources that are available for those who are (sadly) having suicidal thoughts. One thing I always do when I am feeling that way is to remind myself that I have a sick brain that lies to me. Then I count in my mind all the people who would be negatively affected by my killing myself. I even count my cat!  Caring for a pet has many mental health benefits. I do not want my cat to go to the pound where she might be put down.

I also tell myself that if I am still around then there must be a reason. I still have something to learn in this life, even of it is not apparent to me at the time.

And lastly therapy and support groups help me to put things in perspective and give me hope.


Anyway here is a good article I found listing tons of resources to help those who feel suicidal and those around them. Around 35,000 Americans die from suicide and one million attempt suicide in the U.S. every year. If you feel suicidal please get help!

English: Chart showing he circumstances for su...

English: Chart showing he circumstances for suicide in 16 states in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Suicide And The Cost Of Life


Suicide is a major public health concern. It affects young and old around the world without regard for gender, ethnicity, education, or income. Individuals who are suicidal can feel lost, confused, hopeless, alone, and unworthy. Issues like a sudden breakup, chronic illness, an untreated mental health condition, and being unable to find work, can lead individuals to believing that taking their own life is the only solution for stopping their pain. Suicide, however, can be prevented. Everyone can learn to be an advocate to support themselves, a friend, family member, neighbor, or work associate to get the help they need by turning to suicide prevention resources.


Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention


The Alliance works to carry out the goals of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, a United States structured effort to halt suicide rates. Objectives of the plan include providing access to treatment and getting concerned citizens, businesses, researchers, and other sectors involved in the support process.


American Association of Suicidology


Suicide prevention professionals and volunteers will find training and accreditation programs, statistics, and current research useful for treating and prevention of suicides.


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)


AFSP believes that the key to preventing suicide is encouraging openness in discussions and increasing research projects about and public education initiatives directed towards those in crisis.


Coping with Suicidal Thoughts (PDF)


Stay safe when dealing with thoughts of doing self-harm by developing a safety plan.


Department of Defense – Suicide Prevention & Awareness


Articles, videos, crisis line information and other prevention resources designed for all current or past service members.


Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance


Use this guide for basic suggestions useful to those dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts.


Helping a Friend Scenario


Confused about what to say or do when someone you know appears to be suicidal? This mock conversation provides a look at what you can say and do to support.


How Senior Living Staff can Promote Emotional Health & Prevention of Suicides


This free toolkit is instantly available by download and address concerns of suicide among seniors.


How to Help Someone Who Is Suicidal


Those who are concerned about the emotional state of a family member, friend, or associate will find the suicide prevention tips, warning signs, and do’s and don’ts discussed in this article make talking about suicide a little less intimidating.


Invitations for Help (PDF)


Social prejudices that teach that suicidal individuals are being weak or selfish can stop those who need support from seeking it out. Communication, behaviors, and situations discussed here can identify those in danger of committing suicide and inform of ways to get help.


Jed Foundation


The Jed Foundation focuses on empowering college students to overcome suicidal thoughts.


Means Matter Campaign


This campaign addresses the methods used in suicide attempts and counsels on reducing access to highly lethal methods.


National Center for Injury Prevention & Control – Suicide Prevention


These data, reports, studies, and publications are useful in addressing and preventing suicides among youths and adults.


National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – Suicide Prevention


The NIMH offers access to publications about suicide prevention, statistics, and treatment information.


National Organization of People of Color Against Suicide (NOPCAS)


NOPCAS works to ensure that minorities are not ignored in suicide prevention interventions and strategies.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


Lifeline delivers confidential suicide intervention nationwide to anyone experiencing a crisis at any time by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


Reach Out


Those who are suicidal often feel as if they are alone. These survivor stories written by teens and young adults benefit those who are struggling realize there are others who have dealt with the same experiences.


Read This First


There is never any shame in asking for help. Individuals thinking about suicide should read these coping strategies.


Recommendations for Reporting On Suicide


Journalist and others in the media can play a large part in preventing suicides and encouraging those at risk to get help through responsible reporting practices. These recommendations dissect how the media can positively increase awareness of suicide.




Having a safe and private way to speak to speak to someone who will be supportive and nonjudgmental can help to prevent suicide. The Samaritans offer this needed support by phone, email, text and in branch offices for those in the United Kingdom.


Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide


Teenagers just like adults can feel so overwhelmed and confused by the struggles of life that they consider suicide as an option. This society focuses on stopping teen suicides with information provided for teenagers, parents, and educators.


Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)


Those having thoughts of doing harm to themselves and those who do not know what steps to take when someone they love appears suicidal can use these resources from SAVE. Suicide facts, warning signs, and myths are addressed.




Find Information here on different suicide prevention topics including how to recognize depression in elderly individuals.


Suicide Prevention Resource Center


Everyone can play a role in aiding someone to not commit suicide. These customized fact sheets give an overview of suicide related situations that those in specific roles might encounter. Guidance on appropriate responses in these situations is also addressed.


Take 5 to Save Lives


These ideas are created to help prevent a suicide related death in just 5 minutes.


The Bright Side


Greater understanding of suicide leads to earlier recognition of symptoms and timely intervention to save lives. 10 reasons not to commit suicide are also featured.


The Jason Foundation, Inc.


The Jason Foundation offers public workshops, training for professionals who work with youths, and information for parents to protect children.


The Trevor Project


Suicide and crisis intervention directed at youths and those who interact with youths dealing with issues related to sexual orientation. The Trevor Lifeline can also be reached at 866-488-7386 for immediate aid.


Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program


Reviewing the warning signs and risk factors associated with suicide can be helpful if determining if a teen you care about needs to get help.


Youth Suicide Prevention Program


Videos, posters, and other resources here expose the truth about youth suicides. Awareness of the warning signs discussed here and frequently asked questions relevant to kids, teenagers, and parents can aid in preventing tragedy.


From http://www.autoinsurancecenter.com



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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


This is alert from SAMHSA (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

More than half of all adults with serious thoughts of suicide do not receive mental health services

Slightly more than half (51.8 percent) of the 8.6 million American adults who had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year did not receive mental health services according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

SAMHSA’s report shows that among those who had serious thoughts of suicide and did not receive treatment, nearly three out of four did not perceive the need for treatment.

Each year more than 35,000 reported deaths are attributed to suicide and studies have indicated that those who have serious thoughts of suicide are at increased risk of suicide attempts and eventual death by suicide.

“Suicide is among one of our nation’s most preventable causes of death and it devastates the lives of countless families and friends left behind,” said Paolo del Vecchio, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. “The earlier we can reach out to people in crisis with needed mental health services, the more lives we can save, and the more people we can help return to happy, productive lives.”

The SAMHSA-sponsored toll free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline –1-800-273-TALK (8255)– provides 24/7, year round immediate confidential counseling for people in crisis or for people who are concerned that someone they know may be in crisis. The Lifeline can also be accessed online at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

The report, Half of Adults with Serious Thoughts of Suicide Do Not Receive Mental Health Services, is available at:

Click to access spot136-suicide-services-2014.pdf

It is drawn from data from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey of 67,000 Americans from across the country.

Additional info on SAMHSA’s suicide prevention programs and other resources is available at http://www.samhsa.gov/prevention/suicide.aspx.
For further information SAMHSA programs please go to: http://www.samhsa.gov/

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.


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Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church.

Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am very pleased that Pastor Rick Warren is helping to take the lead in getting rid of the mental health stigma within the Christian culture.  Warren, who is the best selling author of The Purpose Driven Life, lost his son to suicide. He is now opening up a dialog within the Christian community about mental illness. Warren, founder of Saddleback Church will team with  the Roman Catholic Diocese of  Orange and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to host a daylong event  next month focused on helping church leaders reach parishioners who are  struggling with mental illness.

Many pastors and church counselors have zero training in mental health issues and can do a lot of damage to the faithful. My own experiences within the church has not been helpful. When I was sixteen I was told by a church counselor that I just wanted attention when I told her that I felt suicidal. Fortunately my parents were smart enough to get me to a real therapist.

The other mantra that churches often use is that taking medications means you do not have enough faith in God and that you are an “addict.” There are actually very few psychiatric medications that are addictive. Addiction is defined as taking more than prescribed due to tolerance to the medication’s effects. Sleeping pills and tranquilizers have abuse potential, but medications for depression, mania and psychosis do not. So there is no such thing as a antidepressant addiction and it is not designed to make people “high.” When people tell you that you are addicted to antidepressants ask them what the street value of Cymbalta is? The answer: Zero.

There are plenty of well-meaning Christians who give disastrous advice. One of the most hurtful things is when they say that depression is a sin. One of the hallmarks of depression is guilt. So all they are doing is piling on more guilt and depression on that person!

And the big one: Suicide. I believe with all my heart that we need to have compassion towards those who have attempted or succeeded at suicide. It isn’t up to us to judge someone’s heart. Most of them do not intend to hurt others and in fact often believe that they are a burden and that everyone else would be better off without them. I cannot even begin to explain to others the thoughts that have gone on in my mind when I attempted suicide. A minor argument that I could have easily resolved by my apologizing became a reason to punish myself.  I can emphatically say that I was out of my mind at the time, because I would not have done that in my normal frame of mind. And there was also nothing else going on in my life to trigger my depression.

While I am sad about the tragedy of Rick Warren’s son’s death, I hope that this will help shed light on traditional Christian attitudes towards mental illness and inspire pastors and counselors to learn more about how to help those who suffer from devastating mental illnesses.

To find out more about what Rick Warren is doing read here.

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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This inspiring story is from www.deeperstory.com/your-story-worth-finishing

Your Story is Worth Finishing

by Luke

Content Warning: This post speaks candidly of suicide and suicidal ideations.

The purpose of this post is to raise awareness for National Suicide Prevention Week. Know the signs. Be involved. Be a safe place. Go to the NSPW website to learn more.

I. The Wound.

Two years ago, I was sitting alone on the floor of my closet at 2 in the morning with the cold, metallic heft of release resting in my lap. I can still remember what it felt like. It was heavy and awkward in my clammy hands as my fingers traced the letters etched into the slide:


It wasn’t the first time in my life I’d been down this road, but it was definitely the farthest I’d ever ventured down it. There had been thoughts in the past, even some rough plans, but never this detailed. I was ready, except I hadn’t written a note.

I’ve struggled with depression my whole life. I self-medicated with whatever I could – adrenaline, food, a little pot, more than a little alcohol and a lot of prescription drugs. But you probably never would’ve known. My family and friends didn’t know while I was growing up. I was an athlete, an honor student, a musician. I was involved in church. I had some genuinely great friends. On the outside I looked like the kid that had it all together, while on the inside, I was fighting just to hold on.

And so the charade continued.

Two years ago, I was “successful.” Two years ago I was “happy.” Two years ago, I had a good job and a wonderful family and all of those things that let us know that we’ve made it.

But I was broken. The birth of our second son marked the break in the walls of compartmentalization I had so carefully and painstakingly built, and years of repressed psychological and emotional damage came flooding in. I was out of control. I needed to regain control, and this, I reasoned, was one way to do it.

But I still needed to write a note.

I sat contemplating how to frame the end of my story, trying to find the words to make sure my wife didn’t blame herself, as my thumb involuntarily stroked the safety. How could I make her understand, make them all understand that it would be better this way, that they would be better off this way?

But I waited too long. My oldest son cried out in his sleep with a night terror. Instinct took over, and before I knew what I was doing, the gun was back in the safe and the boy was in my arms, body racked with sobs of terror and tears streaming down his face.

At some point, I’m not sure when, I realized that he’d stopped crying, and that the sobs were mine.

The tears were mine.

Some day I’ll tell him that he saved my life. Some day I’ll tell him that his tiny hand on my face that night was the first thing I’d really felt in almost a decade. Some day I’ll tell him that it was at that moment in his bedroom in the middle of the night that I realized there was a different way to take control.

I started thinking about a new note, one to reach out for help instead of offering premature goodbyes.

II. To the Wounded

You think that you don’t matter. You think you’re invisible. You think you’re alone, that your life has no value. You think that not being alive is better than being in whatever hellish reality you’re living in. You need to control something, and you think this is the only way to do it.

But you do matter. Maybe you don’t have a two year old with impeccable timing to let you know that you matter, so this is me telling you that you do. You matter to you. You matter to people around you that you don’t even realize. You matter to me because I see you on the same road that I was on, and this is me going right back down that road to get you.

This is me opening doors that I’ve never dared to open publicly because the fact that you’re reading this means maybe you’re looking for a reason not to and I’m telling you that this is it. This is me, jumping up and down, waving my arms and screaming that I see you, that you’re not alone, that your life has value. This is me telling you all of the things that I wish someone would have told me when I started down that road. It is worth it. You’re worth it. You are loved, you are loved, you are loved.

If you close the book now, when the drama in the story is at its most fevered and the pain most intense, you’ll never know how the hero of your story would’ve turned out.

Your story matters, and it’s worth finishing.

The world is full of people who’ve been to those dark places but who came out the other side and discovered a better way to take control: by re-writing their own stories.

Reaching out for help was one of the hardest, most painful things that I’ve ever done. Healing is ugly and it’s messy and it takes a long time and there will always be scars, but what matters is that our stories go on. My story could have ended with a widow wondering what she possibly could have done and two boys growing up wondering why their dad left them alone, but instead, it’s still being written. The pages are dog-eared and highlihgted with words and lines and whole paragraphs crossed out in some places, but in spite of all the edits, it’s a story that’s worth finishing.

And so is yours.

“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Do not be afraid.” – Frederick Buechner

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please seek help. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline has trained counselors available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you don’t want to talk to a stranger, reach out to a family member or a friend. Talk to a pastor or priest. Talk to someone, anyone. If you’re tooo scared or embarrassed to talk to anyone else, you can talk to me. You can @ me or DM me on twitter @lukeharms or email me at luke (dot) a (dot) harms (at) gmail (dot) com. Take control by reaching out and deciding to heal.

RECOVERY FROM BIPOLAR DISORDER IS POSSiBLE.  This is a post from about a year ago. Enjoy!

English: Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France. *...
English: Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France. * Additional noise reduction performed by Diliff. Original image by Luc Viatour. Français : L’éclipse totale de soleil en 1999 faite en France. * Réduction du bruit réalisée par Diliff. Image d’origine Luc Viatour. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Finding Hope

It is very frightening to fall into the abyss of bipolar depression. It is like the eclipse of the sun, plunging us into darkness and chaos. Suddenly nothing seems certain. Our dreams and hopes for the future are shattered. We wonder if we will ever be the same again. We may be so lost that we end up in hospitals and institutions, receiving frightening treatments and medicated to the hilt. We feel like freaks, isolated from society and often rejected and misunderstood by our family and friends. We may even attempt suicide as a way to end our pain. How then can we find hope? How do we make sense of what has happened to us? Read more

I wrote this poem in the year 2000 when I went through my worst suicidal depression I ever experienced. I have been reluctant to share this with people because it is such a dark poem. However it does have a positive message. It is about waiting out the storm. At the time I wrote it, I really thought my life was over.  I just wanted to die. But on some level I think my sub-conscious was trying to tell me something.  I wasn’t planning on writing what I wrote, it just flowed from me.  My waiting paid off, since I do not feel this way now. So please take this as an encouraging and life-affirming poem.


Night Song

By Mary Rogers


Etches into my soul

Sears my heart

Echoing in its bloodless interior

I am waiting

Silence greets silence

As the hours go by

Darkness seeps into an airless room

And seals it as if it were a coffin

I am waiting

My ears hear sounds

Unknown to man or gods

And , oh God!

I wish I understood

The secret language of the cosmos

I am waiting

I am set adrift

On this dark sea

With not even the moon

Or the stars for light

I will wait, and wait patiently still

A Travesty of Justice Against the Mentally Ill!

Pregnant woman in the shadows (BW image)

Pregnant woman in the shadows (BW image) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I received this horrifying e-mail today. Many of you may already know about this as it looks like this case is moving towards a trial. However it is not too late to make your opinion known! Please read and sign this petition and pass this along to as many people as possible!


When my friend Bei Bei found out she was pregnant, she was excited to start a family. But things took a turn for the worse. Her boyfriend abruptly left her and said he didn’t love her anymore, and she fell into a spiral of depression. It got so bad that she tried to kill herself on Christmas Eve.

Luckily, a friend found Bei Bei and rushed her to the hospital. Bei Bei survived, but after an emergency C-section, her baby — whom she named Angel — didn’t survive. It gets worse: now an overzealous prosecutor is putting Bei Bei on trial for murder.

Bei Bei lives in Indiana, which has a law that was meant to criminalize people who attack pregnant women. This law has never been used to convict a pregnant woman of harming herself — and suicide is not even illegal in Indiana. Bei Bei went through a personal tragedy, and now she could face 45-65 years in prison.

I started a petition on Change.org calling on prosecutor Terry Curry to drop charges against Bei Bei. Will you click here to sign?

I am terrified for my friend, and also for the precedent this trial could set. What if a woman like Bei Bei was struggling with suicidal thoughts, but then was too afraid to seek help because she knew she could be prosecuted?

After Bei Bei tried to kill herself, she did everything doctors recommended to save her fetus, taking rounds of medication and consenting to emergency surgery. When doctors told Bei Bei that Angel had to be taken off life support, Bei Bei was so devastated she had to be sedated.

Bei Bei has already been through so much — it seems like Terry Curry is the only person in Indiana who wants to prosecute her. I hope that if thousands of people sign my petition, we can bring enough attention to his cruel vendetta to get him to drop the charges and let Bei Bei finally move forward with her life.

Click here to sign my petition demanding that prosecutor Terry Curry drop all charges against my friend Bei Bei Shuai.

Thank you,

Brooke Beloso



Drive-By Snarking

Sam saves Emily from drowning herself (2006).

Sam saves Emily from drowning herself (2006). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, it finally happened. I had my first “snark attack” on my blog. Frankly I am surprised that it has taken so long for this to happen since I do post on some controversial topics. Even though it was an unpleasant experience it did spark some thinking on my part. In essence, how do you explain your illness to someone without making it sound like you are making excuses for bad behavior?

In the article in question I made it very clear that having bipolar disorder does not give you a free pass. However what I was focusing on was that there are people who have bipolar disorder who experience a break with reality, including me. Any court in the land would not consider that person to be responsible for her behavior. Now the area gets a little fuzzy when it comes to medication compliance, someone who is not getting treatment may bear some responsibility for getting into the situation in the first place. Unfortunately, I lost a good friendship with a man who has schizophrenia because he stopped taking his medication. I ended up in a very co-dependent relationship with him, which ended badly.

Getting back to this comment she basically was angry with her bipolar husband and so all people who have bipolar disorder are evil and don’t take responsibility for their actions. Furthermore mental illness is not a serious disease, like cancer, so I should just suck it up.

I won’t get into my reply here, but you can read it for yourself.

What she missed was that this article was intended to help those who are perplexed by their loved one’s behavior. To let people know that the strange behavior has nothing to do with them. In other words, I was trying to comfort people who have been deeply hurt to help them understand that they are not at fault and also that most likely the person does not intend to hurt them or anyone else.

One of my deepest regrets is that I have hurt others through my suicide attempts. However I was not doing that to manipulate and punish them, it was to punish me. I felt everyone would be happier without me and that I didn’t deserve to live. At one point I was delusional and I thought God wanted me to kill myself.

When I have told some people this it has been because I want then to feel better, to let them know that I don’t blame them and to ease their minds. While my dad gets that, I have gotten a very negative response from some other people. They just see my well-intended words as excuses and that I had some evil intent to hurt them. I have even been accused of lying about my symptoms in order to get medications, even though they do not make me high and they are non-addictive.

When I get accused of not taking responsibility for my actions, that is not true. I have made changes in my life and I no longer act destructively towards myself or others. I have not made a suicide attempt in 14 years. I think this is the best apology that I can give, which is doing things differently. I didn’t have the skills to manage my illness in the past, now I do.

But I will not admit to having evil motives when I did not. I’ll take responsibility for my actions, but I am not going to roll over and be beaten up for the mistakes I made in my past. The fact is that I want very deeply to reassure them that I do not blame them for my illness, but they won’t accept it.  That means that I am not responsible for their misery, because they are the ones who are choosing to hold onto it.

So what do you guys think? Do people react badly when you try to explain your illness to them? At what point do you think that maybe you were not responsible for your actions? At what point do you think you were? Please share.