Bootstraps and bullshit

Two celebrities have taken their own lives in the past week, and while neither death really affects me, my Facebook feed is full of posts on suicide. Hotlines, ways to reach out for help, and all types of good things, but if I see one more post about suicide being “a longterm solution to a short term problem” I am going to scream.

I was hospitalized for depression and suicidal ideation for the first time when I was 14 years old.

I will be 40 next month.

And in those years I have been hospitalized a dozen or so times in three different facilities. I have been on an extensive laundry list of medications of all types in a cookbook of combinations. I have been through a generous handful of therapist, and have a diverse and impressive list of diagnoses.

I have seriously attempted suicide three times. The last time I totaled my car and could have killed my beloved dog who was riding in the front seat.

This is not a short term problem.

Not for me.

Not for a lot of people.

Depression is an insidious disease. Mental illness is many times a lifelong struggle. And sometimes it kills you.

So if you think that depression is a choice, that people need to just pick themselves up by their bootstraps, get more exercise, think about how lucky they are, there’s the door.

That’s not how it works.

Science tells us that is not how it works.

Doctors tell us that’s not how it works.

I have fought long ugly battles for my life. I have been in ugly places.

No one, given the choice, would choose this.

So here’s to you, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, for your suffering. For all the time you spent trying. For all the days you chose to live.

I am sorry you couldn’t find a way through it. I’m sorry that sometimes, despite all the medical advances out there, sometimes the disease still wins.