May 12, 2009

Good accurate portrayals of mental illness on TV

Just reading a wonderful blog post on mental illness in TV shows. This line about suicide and specifically about a character who suddenly, without warning, commits that dreadful act is so very accurately true.

"Out of every ten suicides, two show no outward signs of their internal struggles, so their suicide comes as a surprise," explained Serani. "Any sudden death presses deeply on our psyche. But suicide adds layers that complicate bereavement. Making sense of loss helps us recover. If we know someone died because the road was icy and the accident was unavoidable, we can somehow move on. If a medical illness or a tangible reason can explain a death, a sense of closure will eventually occur. But suicide leaves many questions, none of which can or ever will be readily answered. So there is a legacy of a loved one's death not making sense. There is no closure."

From reading of Kay Redfield Jameson's book "Night Falls Fast" I realized just how awful this terrible tragedy can occur, in an instant. Or over a long time, gradually leading to this point.

I've taken the liberty of copying a comment on the Amazon page. From a person who lost a family member. So sad to read.

This book is a history of suicide, written by someone who has been manic-depressive and suicidal. The history is well-researched, complex, extensive, and disturbing. At times, reading this book was like wrapping my mouth around the exhaust pipe of a truck, with clouds of soul-corroding blackness filling every corner of my being. The book just contains so much sadness and grief: the sadness of the depressed people who have taken their own lives...the grief of their families...and the seemingly unreconcilable wrongness of a world where these sort of things happen all the time.
When I read it, everything I read seemed to be about my older sister, LeeAnne. The descriptions of depression all seemed to be about her, about how she behaved and talked, and in all of the accounts, the depressed people then killed themselves, or tried to. They died, and were gone forever. It terrified me, but I was relieved to have read this, and I felt like I'd read it just in time. Night fell fast, the other hikers and I made camp in a rainstorm in a dense, wet grove of trees in New Brunswick, Canada. I left my tent and gear to go find a payphone at the flooded parking lot of a nearby truckstop. I called my sister and left a message; I told her I loved her, and told I would call her back that week. In hindsight, I should have called every hour of every day until I reached her. In hindsight, I should have called every family member and had them call her too. Because, two days later, my sister was dead.
Dead from too many Ibuprofen and sleeping pills. Dead for the rest of my life.
Dead forever. This book is a warning, a thoroughly researched, scientifically and emotionally valid look at depression and suicide. Anyone who has a depressed family member or friend needs to read this. So does anyone who has been depressed themselves--though maybe not while depressed, as it might give you ideas.
Your soul will darken for a while after reading this, but you will also become more aware. My family and I use to joke about how my sister was always so gloomy, but this book will show you that depression is not something to laugh about.
It's serious. This book could save your life, or the life of someone you love...if you read it soon enough...if you act on what you've read. If you act now.

How dreadfully sad. Can you imagine the pain the writer felt as he wrote that story? That is the sad, dreadful thing as well about suicide. The pain left for the living never goes away. The closure is never truly there. Always the lingering question of why? Just "why?"

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