Recently, popular British entertainer, Stephen Fry mentioned during a podcast that he had tried to kill himself last year. The actor, writer and comedian suffers from bi-polar, and is president of mental health charity, Mind.
This is a brave thing for anyone to admit, and is proof that mental health issues aren’t restricted to any particular type of person. A big problem with mental illness is that it is not something that can be cured, or will simply go away. It is something that sufferers have to live with and adapt to. People who have never suffered from mental illness, will comment that a suicide attempt is ‘selfish’ or want to know the reasons behind it. All that this shows is a mis-understanding of mental health problems.
The admission of having problems, by Mr Fry, is something courageous and helpful to so many people. Sometimes, it is hard to picture yourself as a success, if you suffer from any mental illness, because it can be hard to predict how you are going to feel and act on any given day. So the idea that someone very successful in their chosen field whilst having a mental illness is very comforting.
What isn’t comforting is the negative commentary. People who have never suffered saying it is irresponsible to talk about suicide. But speaking about suicide is not a trigger to a lot of people. Speaking negatively and frowning upon it can be. As a person who has both self-harm and considered suicide, if I hear people telling that what I am feeling is wrong, I punish myself more. I don’t know why I feel what I feel, and I can’t explain it. So to have someone marking me down because they feel negatively towards me because I once tried to overdose (I passed out for a few hours). The feeling that I felt after waking up, will stay with me forever.
I think that anything that can bring mental health into a forum for discussion is great. I do think that people need to think about commenting negatively about such a topic, though. I know that if I read someone bad mouthing depression, it can trigger my own feelings. I believe the negative comments, that I have a lot in my life, why should I feel bad? In honesty what a person owns, has nothing to do with it. But I go through the tiring process of hating myself, because my depression and anxiety seems so falsified, because others have it so much worse than me. When I get in that frame of mind, I could cry, I could scratch myself raw or cut myself. Because it punishes me for being so privileged and having the stupidity to be depressed. I deserve to be punished for ‘choosing’ to be a burden.
In all honesty, if I had a way to choose the way I was, I assure you that I wouldn’t feel this. And that is what non-sufferers need to understand. It is not a choice, it is not based on anything in life, people suffer mental health issues, because it is an illness. There may be a chemical imbalance in their brain, or something scarred them as a kid, it could even be passed down from relatives. It could be anything, and can happen to anyone. As a person who sees negative commentary as triggers, I find those who demean Mr Fry’s admission as thoughtless cowards.
I know it is the internet, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t hold a certain level of respect for one another.