Two Organizations Work To Decrease the Stigma of Mental Health Issues & Suicide

Yesterday, the organization called, BringChange2Mind shared a link on Facebook, of an art exhibit called, Man-Up Against Suicide, being held at the Foster Eastman Gallery in Vancouver.  I watched, Dr. John Oliffe, describe the exhibit in the YouTube video, “Man-Up Against Suicide-Depression Documentary,” on the Men’s Depression and Suicide Network. (Warning–YouTube automatically posts recommended videos on the right side of their site that may differ from the tone/purpose of the link).

The featured artists lives were touched by suicide. Some talked about dealing with their own thoughts, others of family/friends contemplation or completion of suicide.

One speaker, Doug, talked about his friend, Ron, (3:32) having thoughts of suicide. He described his friend as a “very strong person…very warm heart, very kind, very giving, but he doesn’t see that in himself.   Here’s this…shiny happy person on the outside, but there’s a lot of darkness and turmoil going on within him.” This was my experience of Dave. I’m attracted and others are too, to Dave’s sense of humor, and his compassionate, tender side. Dave struggled to see these strengths.  On the other hand, his distortions regarding his failures, his weaknesses, he fully identified with.  His struggles with depression, and his one coping strategy–contemplating death, he hid very well from the outside world. I was the only one who knew about that side of him.

In the video, the interviewee Doug, continued saying that “(4:13) There is a way out…sun will come out tomorrow, there is going to be a brighter day ahead.” Which he portrays in his art piece.

Another speaker, Jessica, spoke of her friend John, whom attempted suicide at 8, (5:52). Dave’s first thoughts of suicide were at age 9, where he fell asleep holding the knife that he contemplated ending his life with.

Another interviewee, Foster Eastman, pled for services for men (9:30), that somehow there’s a “perception that men are tougher.” He shared his thoughts on the phone boxes found on bridges (8:07), “that somehow that, that’s helpful… it’s too little too late at that point …to have rational thought at that moment is …quite a dichotomy.” When Dave starts making his exit plan, his vision becomes tunneled, seeing nothing except suicide as the answer. He doesn’t think about the impact on myself, or Beth. He’s focused on the relief. He’s at peace with his decision. He said it’s only later, when he’s out of his deep hole, that he thinks of the impact, that he understands things get better.

And this is why I’ve realized for myself at those times when I can see he’s struggling, I need to make the very difficult call to have him evaluated by a professional. To hand over the burden of making that decision of his stability to others whom are objective and trained to spot intent and decompensation.

And knowing and accepting—that even with that evaluation, once he’s released, his life is still in his hands. He has to make the daily decision to live.

Another exhibit contributor discussed the tryptic he created and his wishes, (12:10) “I wished you waited…I wish you were here…what could have been.”

That was my fear in the past, and I had similar thoughts–my mind used to ruminate on what would it be like if he ever completed an attempt. How sad it would be to lose such an important person in my life, in Beth’s.

And what I’m left to do now, (and with the help and guidance of my therapist) is to share my fears with him, how hard it is, and share my needs.

I’m afraid I’m going to lose you. I’m afraid how this will impact Beth, and it will impact Beth. How hard it is to not know where you are, to see you not taking your medication and what fears that brings up in me. Beth needs a father. I need a husband. And how I manage those fears by trying to manage you, trying to control, but realizing ultimately it’s out of my control. And the only thing I have control over is communicating to you that I love you and I’m scared. I need you to go to individual therapy. I need you to take your meds.

One of the main difficulties I struggled with being married to Dave, was feeling so alone, with the challenges of living with someone struggling with depression, with suicide.  Perhaps these two organizations can help people like me, like you feel a little less alone.   This is why I tell my story. And I am thankful when you share yours too.

As for myself, and Dave, we have found the right fit with our therapist, who has been a gift of seeing our challenges, coming alongside us and providing the support that we needed to help us to explore the issues we both had/have and help us to grow as individuals and a couple.

Thank you to these BringChange2MInd and  the Men’s Depression and Suicide Network who are highlighting and humanizing the issues and encouraging people to share their story.

Thank you readers, for listening to my story.