Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of the Irish 90’s band ‘The Cranberries’, as it points to, took her own life via drug overdose at 46 years young yesterday–46 is young by all current standards, however, when you deal with constant, chronic, debilitating depression/anxiety/bipolar disorder, well, 46 seems a long goddamn time to suffer here on earth. I’m 47, been suffering most of my life, in fact, I don’t remember a time (other than with my kids, they are true life savers) I wasn’t wishing for a quick painless death to end the morbidly invasive thoughts, the constant terror attacks of emotional grief I’ve learned to get used to at this point (if you can’t beat’em, join’em). I navigate it daily. But I don’t want to just ‘navigate’ anymore, I want to thrive, not succumb to this illness, and yes, I, as well as she, as well as all of us, have intense moments of sheer joy and intensely happy times. My kids have given me that. My kids have helped me see beyond myself in many respects, I get to be here to make sure they have the very best life has to offer, and damn it, if they too are inflicted at some point, I’m the North Hollywood, San Fernando valley bitch who will be their biggest advocate and protector.
That’s if this illness doesn’t destroy me first. Shit.
And therein is the problem with it. At least being a writer gives me an outlet, so many have no outlets other than escapist remedies, and trust me, I’ve tried those too.
We have lost some really crazy talented folk in the past year or so–Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, now Dolores O’ Riordan (there’s more, I am not leaving them out on purpose, I’m just so upset I can’t think straight right now…I’m beside myself). And let me divulge what we’ve all learned about these people we’ve come to know but don’t really know; these were highly intelligent and high functioning, cosmically conscious (by reading the quality of their intellect and grace in interviews n’ such) talents who were parents as well as creative visionaries. As I’ve read of one suicide after another, the through line is always the same–their families were the the real reason to keep going, the music second. Being a human first, your work second, seems to be what we are having to learn the hard way.
I’m no celebrity, and that’s troubling in many ways when I disclose my own mental status, us normal folk tend to live in fear of being discriminated against or worse, not believed (I can’t tell you how many people think mental health issues are total bullshit till one of us finally kills ourselves, oops!) for our openness, where someone in the limelight often get’s more vocal and or fan n’ peer support, and that in no way takes away from their suffering one bit. To suffer in public is probably harder than to suffer in front of maybe, like, 10, and I’ve been a performer and such for most my life, but ‘the masses’ I am. Yet, I have an amazing support network, I must establish that–how did I get so lucky to have the friends and family who support me through my mounting turmoil? I’m a lucky one in many respects and I thank god for the people in my life who take the time to nourish me when they got their own shit going on. We all got shit.
The famous folk who have been brave enough to come out with their illnesses have raised awareness for people like me and my emotional kin, and I’m so so so incredibly crushed some had to end up losing their lives in the process. I hate having to post this today, but Dolores O’ Riordan’s death has hit me hard due to the similarities in our personal lives. I felt I had to.
Suicide has a very creepy side effect, and yes, it’s the fact that it’s somewhat contagious. Please take care of each other, please reach out, please support, please be a community who cares and helps out, do favors for each other even if you don’t feel like it, it’s what heals, it helps, It makes a big difference, it really does. You know the saying “together we stand, divided we fall?” It applies to mental health not just the military, so get on board even if your hella’ busy.
As far as I’m concerned, mental illness has never been accepted into the mainstream, cancer has, drug abuse has, shit, almost every ailment gets more do-overs than we do. But that’s the lack of education on the subject–and you can’t look at depression under a microscope as easily as a high white blood cell count, so that’s an issue when getting people to invest in your recovery. But you know, we are all of you, or more precisely, there’s more of us than you will care to admit. I bet almost every other person you know is hiding their own emotional dysfunction, some better than others, and that boss or boyfriend, or teacher or cop you encounter day in and out, might just be suffering in silence themselves, as in clinically depressed or meets at least one on the myriad of mental health disorders on the deli sized menu. You never know what’s lurking in the hearts, minds, and chemical make-up of someone else, but It’s rampant, that I’m experiencing the more I come out myself as an advocate for mental health.
But I get it, coming clean is fuckin’ scary, it is, n’ I don’t care how accomplished you are, hell, doctors have one of the highest depression rates amongst professionals who suffer–suicide: it’s not just a dentist’s disease you know.
‘Tis a double edged sword to disclose your mental health, you know exactly what I’m talking about too, especially if you love your work but love your kids more. The shunning is real, the not hiring is a dirty little unknown fact, and you know, the not being included sucks all kinds of assholes even if you are more qualified on all other levels than the folk doing the judging.
Sad state of affairs if you ask me, and you can ask me anything and I’ll be honest with you–honest but supportive, supportive but wickedly (humor heals, not just love) funny, and yes, I will always try and get a laugh out of a depressed comrade by any means possible (no PC humor here folks, can’t risk it at this point).
The Funny Shit: it helps me but only after being validated. See how that works? Validation first, comedy second–won’t even secretly judge and laugh at you even if your paranoia convinces you I will. I won’t, believe that. In fact, you just might end up being my goddamn hero. So like, maybe we don’t need to be sneaking around in the bushes n’ under the covers smelling like ‘a bag of armpits’ or like, creepily spying on the neighbors in fear of losing what we have? People who listen and don’t judge you on your mental status like me exist, you just got to find and create your community of go-to’s and not make the mistake of ‘casting pearl before swine‘…that’s super important with this illness (until society catches up and catches on, and they will, it’s coming). So hear this; investing yourself in the wrong people can do more damage than good, so in that case get a life sized Halloween doll (I have a 6 foot 5 pennywise clown) and talk to it if you must or your dogs (that’s if your aloof canine doesn’t get up and leave the room if your anything but super happy, so yeah, that can backfire and make you feel like drinking bleach, so beware with animals, too).
*Choose your audience wisely is what I’m saying. And they’re out there, the earth angels I’ve blogged about the very first time we met, you just have to manifest them and you can. You will.
While I’m on this rant, I’ll go on to say, to remind you or anyone dealing with a loved one who suffers, that it’s not personal when we, they, you, he-she-it, can’t cope and or lash’s out…maybe that’s why we tend to isolate so much, no one wants to dump on a partner all day long, that’s contrary to popular belief, I know, but that’s the truth. We love you too much to want you pulled down into the muck even though your down there with us and can’t figure out how to help.
Here’s the part of the blog where I get more clinical, like science n’ shit, n’ you know, I just don’t want to rant about how shitty this disease is, I want to help find solutions and so do lot’s of people in the medical field, so let’s light a fire under the asses of scientists and get some truly curative treatments on the market. Ketamine is a big start in the right direction, but it’s not an end all be all.
*Note, Depression lies to you. It’s one of the most seductive sexy liars you’ll ever encounter in your whole damn life, no joke. Seriously, it can get you to off yourself, it’s seriously bad news. Don’t believe the lies.
*Depression destroys your faith in not only yourself but in everything you used to love and were once fuckin’ pumped over (but still are, you just are being sabotaged and fooled, don’t believe it, you’re still worthy, you’re still viable, you’re still hot, you’re still better than everyone else…kidding, well sorta..made you go “Ha! Wait, what?” at least).
*Clinical depression on any level will drain your internal resources if you don’t find a way to monitor it and keep it in check…remember (not that you forgot, maybe you never knew?), your brain is as plastic as you keep it, and I’m not talking cheap plastic ‘chachkies’ made in china either, I’m talking physiological ‘plasticity’–the ability to keep the mind pliable and flexible, able to synthesize new information and create new neuro-pathways, the kind that tend to die off with age and chronic trauma. Gotta keep’em working, gotta keep’em growing. (Check out the science on telomere length; BTW, telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes from aging, fascinating in fighting diseases of the mind and body. Hoping to see meds made in hopes of keeping these telomere lengths long and lovely when a cell divides, that instead of dying off due to age and chronic illness.)
*It’s just the same as working out your physical body, your brain needs the same or more as you age, for depression and the other fun AF disorders that co-inside with it, tends to get worse as we trudge on, not better, so get on it A-holes! I am! And trust me, I’m pretty screwed up but still doing A+ work (but at my pace, not your pace, the pace that allows me to not collapse, so know your boundaries, know your rhythm, know what works for you and stick to it), so you can too.
*And let me remind you, if your a sufferer, you must be on your own recovery all the time, never letting up. Just how it’s gonna go, so get used to it and move on. If you’re not on it every single day, you can relapse or get worse, even in a remission period, so support yourself through it. Sorry. Sucks, I know. But there is hope, and yes, there is help, and yep, there is healing and you don’t have to become a hot-yoga-sugar-free-vegan to obtain relief.
In ending, I’ll leave you with a piece from an article I just read up on yahoo today in honor of Riordan’s passing. It’s from the great empathetic mind of someone in the media who seemingly has it all, Rick Springfield. I totally and completely admire both his honesty and talent, Springfield’s unabashed candidness regarding his own brutal suicidal depression and the self loathing, something he’s struggled with all his life, gives me some strange comfort–I’m not alone, no matter how cheesy that may sound. If Rick Springfield can suffer and he’s still here, then there’s hope for me. I don’t know why that makes sense, but it does, so thank you Rick Springfield, you help me every time I read up on you when I’m in the trenches. A reminder to all that mental illness does not discriminate as we’ve learned just today with the sickening loss of Dolores O’ Riordan.
From the yahoo article:
“Springfield described his depression, which he calls “Mr. D,” as something that “you kind of become acclimatized to … almost like a friend.” He added that suicidal thoughts are “part of my makeup.”
‘When you get to the really dark point nothing’s enough’
The father of two said he has always “been very open” with his two children about his depression, saying: “They see the darkness in me.”
He added that while he knows taking his own life would “devastate” his family, in his darkest moments, he isn’t able to think about that.
“You think, ‘They’ll, you know, they’ll get through it.’ And they will, because we’re human beings and we deal with stuff,” he said, adding that during his worst bouts of depression, all he is able to think about is “just getting out.”
But he’s still here, and I believe he will be for a long time due to his commitment to keep awareness at the forefront. Be vigilant people, be supportive, to be available to comfort and listen to each other, and you can always count on me to be some-kind of light for you cause I know you are valuable, and we need you here. Know I will tell myself this same thing 25 more times today, even when I don’t wanna believe it, cause depression lies…lies, not reality, remember that.