Your mind is your greatest gift. It is limitless in its capability, only bounded by your will to grow. It is a realm where you can seek comfort, and learn to rely on it like a companion in our quest of life.
The world appears cold. Shelter seems to be nowhere in sight. Love becomes a lost concept, and anguish slowly begins to fill in for the void love left. Without love, with no warmth to be found, and no place to seek shelter from it all, the will to live fades and the fire diminishes until there is nothing but ashes remaining.
My sister, Brittney, suffered this fate. Her mind fell victim to bipolar depression, and on July 3rd, 2015, this mental illness absorbed all the love available to her. She took her own life as a result. The illness, pervasive like a tapeworm, had fed on her well-being until her soul starved to death. She got to the point where she believed this was her only escape, to free herself from her torturous, futile endeavor. Her unsurmountable fire had been extinguished.
Britt was diagnosed with bipolar disorder far before we lost her. This disorder controlled her actions, made her irrational at times, and constrained her ability to perceive the world with an open mind. We, we being those fortunate enough to know her, didn’t look into it enough.
We figured that, if you pop a pill a day, it would dissipate like a normal disease would. This was far from the truth. We expected Britt’s outbursts to subside, yet they became more frequent. Her friends, my family, and I wrote these off as a byproduct of her personality, not the disorder that crippled her. We couldn’t see the effect it was having on her. We couldn’t see how, in her mind, she was being distanced from us.
There is a duplicity being fed to us, which says, “Mental illness is an obscure, mythical creature. They can help it, they’re just being selfish or they’re just being a brat. Just give them time, they’ll grow up one day.” What a grave lie that is.
Not only are these people with mental illnesses suffering, but that pain is being magnified because there is such an overwhelming lack of support. We became creatures of habit, believing that since we cannot observe the source of the problem, it does not exist.
I lost a sister because of this. Her bipolar fits put a heavy strain on her relationships with others, myself included. Instead of investigating the cause of her increased mood swings, or the severity of the impact they were having on her, I used the stigma of mental health as a reason to take the easy route and ignore it all. This stigma was just as much of a contributing factor as the parasite itself.
It served as a catalyst for the development of her depression. Not only did she lose control of her actions to her disorder, but her voice was silenced by the world around her. I can’t even imagine how lonely she must have felt.
I miss my sister, more than any of these words could ever describe. I wish I could hear her laugh and feel her embrace one more time. I was so lucky to have a sister as caring, loving, and unique as her; some people don’t even have the privilege of having a sibling, and I was fortunate enough to have three of the world’s best.
After countless nights of crying and feelings of disparity, I realized that we only have two choices when faced with a tragedy like this: We can either bear their burden or syphon their strength. Those who have lost loved ones to mental illness, we have to remain persistent in our fight to shed light on this neglected problem.
Mental illness is a not a myth, but a very undeniable reality. It should not be ignored, but rather stand at the forefront of discussion. The loss of my sister, a gem of the world, cannot be overlooked; it has to stand for something. There are so many others out there who are enduring the same plight she battled with. We can help them. We can break the stigma. We can open our eyes and realize that ignoring this detrimental, unseen, cancer-like category of illness is devouring the quality of life and the motivation of countless others, and we have to help those who are slowly losing the means to help themselves.
Your life is worth something far beyond the scope of what your illness allows you to see. You are wildly unique and have a potential to be a beacon of hope for others. You can plant your roots against the current of adversity and show the world that you are not afraid to admit you need help. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking assistance for an illness that forced its way into your life.
We have to speak, for those that have lost their voice. For those that believe they are a lost cause, with no remedy available for them. Help is available, and I promise there are those out there who are willing to help you find it.
I love my sister, and I will fight my hardest so that no one else has to lose someone so special to them.