So nearly every blog post I’ve written involves my existence as someone with a diagnosed mental illness, bipolar depression (with a wee bit of anxiety at times). I’m so used to being the patient, I was completely blindsided by the sudden flip to the other side: a person who knows someone with a mental illness, who is in crisis.
I may as well be an English-only speaking urban white person parachuted into outer Mongolia.
A person I love quite dearly has had clinical depression for a few years now. They decline to accept the diagnosis, and therefore decline any intervention, esp. pharmaceutical. They did have a few sessions with a counselor about a year ago after calling me in the midst of a literal fit of despair; I was fortunate to have the means to get them to talk with a counselor that day. They did continue with the counselor for a few months until that counselor retired and they never established with another. They have been to see their primary care provider who did discuss the possibility of medication, but this has been declined.
This person has had many struggles and stresses in their life, definitely within the past two years there has been more than even I realized. I’ve seen the clinical depression quite evident, and not simply because I’m a nurse. They don’t have any hobbies or anything they really enjoy doing, or more accurately they don’t make time for these activities anymore. They have a tendency to sleep for long hours and not have much oomph. Without a job, the Army National Guard is their job and this is also another source of stress.
I got a call at 12:15 a.m. this morning; they were at a cross roads, and contemplating doing serious harm, doing irreparable damage to themselves and subsequently the lives of those around them. And, to my utter dismay, their response was “I don’t care”.
I think my heart stopped for a few seconds.
So I’m trying to work through Seroquel sleep and help with this person who I love more than anything, who I know is reaching out for help. The short is I didn’t get a solid “I won’t do anything stupid” from them, but I did reach them this morning by phone. Three days on nine hours’ sleep, shit work with shit superiors, no guidance with the new job responsibilities, yeah I can definitely understand why this is overwhelming.
They’re away on training right now, so 1st I tried to call the armory their unit is based out of. I got a voice mail and left a message. After a few hours of nothing, I asked a co-worker whose husband is pretty high up in the air force for help. She immediately called her husband who pointed me in the right direction and I made the call to the suicide prevention line of the particular facility they are at.
I’m glad to say that the military does seem to take mental health and well being of their soldiers seriously, and despite my utter lack of specifics, within an hour he was picked up by the MPs who brought him somewhere safe for evaluation. We were on the phone at the time. They asked “did you call someone?” I answered “yes I did. I don’t care if you’re mad at me”. To my utter relief their response was “I’m not mad. At least now I’ll have someone I can talk to”.
Don’t lose sight that although you may have your own health issues to deal with, there are others out there who need help dealing with their own issues. The phrase “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” is thoroughly frustrating because it’s true. As a friend, a co-worker, a loved one, someone who cares, your job is to voice your concern to the one involved. Whether or not they choose to act on your concerns is up to them. That being said, if it gets to the danger zone, you should do anything you can to go over, above, and around the person to make sure they get the help they need in a crisis. They may hate you, they may never speak to you again, they may spit on your grave.
Don’t lose sight that you may have had these feelings about someone else who has rallied troops around you when they were concerned with your survival, even if you thought it was a complete bunch of bullshit.
Ultimately, if all involved are alive to argue about the specifics later, I think that’s a win.
I didn’t look deeply enough to see just how much the stress has been affecting this person. They are not one to talk about their feelings. I also admittedly haven’t been doing anything to help alleviate the stresses which involve me and us. That doesn’t mean I’m responsible for someone feeling like they have no recourse other than to not wake up, but it does mean I need to look closely at myself and make sure that although I have my own issues to work through, I need to make DAMN sure those around me whom I can’t live without know that without me saying it. Words aren’t the only way to let people know how important they are to you. If someone you love is struggling, whether or not they don’t choose to admit it or seek treatment, take that as an opportunity to let your deeds and actions remind them that they are loved, that they are irreplaceable. They may still choose to do something unchangeable, but then again, maybe they won’t.
I wish for all who read this they do a solid for someone they love, and they recognize when someone’s done a solid for them. We are all unique. We all have our own struggles. We all struggle but ours is individual. We are ALL irreplaceable. Please remember that. The void left if you leave is like a black hole on the heart of everyone who has ever loved you, a permanent stain for which there is no filler. Even if you don’t love you, there is someone who does and more likely there is someone to which you are the world.
If you need it, use it. Use it for yourself, use it for someone else. Asking for help, whether for yourself or someone else, is such a sign of strength. You are stronger than you know, I promise.