Bipolar Depression & Suicide—Gone Too Soon
By Melody Moezzi
No matter how broken bipolar depression makes you feel, there is ALWAYS hope for recovery.
I first heard from Mary in April. A fellow mental health advocate, she had just read my latest book and wanted me to speak to her community about my experiences living with bipolar disorder, a condition we shared in common.
In July, when I went to speak at an event she had all but single-handedly organized—a beautiful space, a fantastic audience, standing room only, tons of books sold, a hit all around—we met for the first time. During dinner, I discovered that we shared far more than a diagnosis. Both writers and activists with a penchant for wit and sarcasm, we became fast friends.
In September, we rode trails together. True to form, she generously insisted that I ride her horse, Mystic, while she rode another, less tame and less beautiful one. Mystic wasn’t always so easy to ride, she told me. At times, he was considered unmanageable, unsafe even. But with Mary’s help, he had become not only safe to ride, but friendly. That was my first time back in the saddle in more than a decade, and I loved it. I was so grateful to Mary for the experience, and I told her so, giving her a huge hug before leaving the stables. Watching her in my rearview mirror as I drove away, waving and smiling in the shadow of a golden Carolina sunset, I had no idea that I would never see Mary again. We planned another ride soon, but soon never came.
By January, Mary was gone. At 56, after a 20-year battle with bipolar disorder, she lost her life to suicide. Aside from being an inspirational peer and mental health advocate, she was also a licensed counselor, a mother, and an absolute master at handling broken pieces, putting them back together in new, better, and more beautiful ways. And I mean this just as much literally as figuratively. Her stunning mosaic artwork was more than a means of creative expression for her; it was a metaphor for recovery.
From the moment I first met Mary, I recognized her as both an inspiration and a kindred spirit. Here was this smart, funny, and creative force of nature, thriving in so many ways, who had learned not only to cope with her mental illness, but to use her experience to help and inspire others to do the same.
No doubt, Mary was a role model for many living with bipolar disorder, myself included. But when people are so busy looking up to you, they may forget to look out for you. They may just assume you’ve got it covered. This mentality can set unrealistic expectations and make some of us even more reluctant to seek help when we need it. I know this firsthand.
Bipolar disorder isn’t something you just “get over”like a flu or a cold. It’s something you manage every day, some days better than others.
I’ve lost count of all the times I’ve been introduced as someone who has “overcome” bipolar disorder. In fact, I’ve never claimed any such thing. Still, the claim has followed me since the moment I began speaking publicly about having this condition. I have learned to manage and even thrive with this illness, but that’s different from overcoming it. Bipolar disorder isn’t something you just “get over,” like a flu or a cold. It’s something you manage every day, some days better than others. The moment you think you’ve “overcome” it, you’ve already lost.
It’s tough enough to seek help when you need it, but when people consider you an exemplar of wellness and recovery, the fear of letting them down can make it tougher still. I worry that this may have been what happened to Mary, though I can never know for sure.
What I do know is that she was gone too soon.
Mary knew that seeking help was a sign of strength and intelligence. She knew that treatment was available. She knew that recovery was possible. But somehow, for a split second, under the influence of severe depression, this fierce artist and advocate simply forgot. And that split second changed everything, for her and for everyone who loved her.
When it comes to suicidal thoughts, seconds matter. Never wait to seek help. No matter how unmanageable, untame, and unsafe the world may seem, no matter how broken you may feel, there is always hope for recovery.
The first step: stick around.
Printed as “Flight of Ideas: Gone too soon”, Summer 2016
Copyright © 2017 – BpHope. All Rights Reserved.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
I am a numerous suicide attempt survivor. Praise God, I am still alive today.
I am a Mental illness advocate and it is my passion to educate about mental illness, increase awareness about mental illness, reduce the stigma of mental illness and the stigma associated with suicide and I want to and must reduce the alarmingly increasing rate of suicides around the world today.
I continue to make a daily post about suicide everyday throughout the month of September for Suicide Prevention month. This is post #14 and if you have missed my previous ones, please check them out on my blog. Also, continue looking on my blog for more daily posts about suicides for the rest of September.
We all need to do our part and do MORE. The first steps are accepting and understanding others with kindness, compassion and love. We all need to educate and learn more about mental illness and suicide and suicide prevention. Start the dialog and be a voice.
We must all make our voices heard very loud and strong about mental illness, mental illness stigma and suicide prevention. It is critical. It is crucial. Each life is priceless. We must prevent suicides and save lives.
“Mental illness, the stigma of mental illness and the stigma associated with suicides is a thorny subject.
We must change the conversations and dialog about mental illness and suicide from an ugly thorn bush into a beautiful bouquet of beautiful red roses, symbolizing the love we all have for each other.” ~Sue Walz