Welcome back to the CGS Blog. This episode was a brutal one. Elisa’s death is the epitome of a mystery. A young woman seen on tape behaving erratically is later found deceased and completely nude in a relatively isolated water tower. Almost as disturbing as her death, is what little we know about the days and weeks leading up to her demise. One major detail about Elisa that is known, is that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression. This is something that affected me the most as I learned about her case. This is also what inspired this blog.
Mental illness is a major problem in the United States. Access to mental health treatment is often not considered much of a priority. People who seek treatment face being stigmatized. As a veteran diagnosed with PTSD, I can say without question, that I have faced that stigmatization first hand but I have also lost too many friends to the darkness of PTSD to keep silent.
There’s no secret that mental illness diagnoses are seemingly more common than even 20 years ago. There are some who would chalk this rise up to a “weak character” of the people who are diagnosed. There’s this school of thought that says, “they’re not unwell, they just need to get over it”. Others will suggest that therapists are quick to diagnose an illness to line the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry often referred to as “big pharma”. Still more react to people who are open about their struggles with a sort of silent discomfort, worried that this person is somehow unpredictable and possibly dangerous.
In my lifetime, a number of prominent figures have come out publicly with their mental health struggles. Most recently, Pete Davidson of Saturday Night Live has very publicly struggled with Borderline Personality Disorder. Just days ago, Pete posted a message on Instagram that alarmed people because he hit an overwhelming moment of darkness. I recognized it immediately because I’ve been there. I don’t know Pete but I do know that many others don’t know him either. In spite of this, a mob of strangers had been encouraging him to kill himself. This is shamefully disgusting and sadly indicative of the ignorance and stigmatization people face when they are open about their struggles.
Human beings are remarkably resilient. We can overcome so many of the challenges we face in amazing ways. However, when people are hurt and do not treat it, our bodies can only recover so much on their own. This is probably why, when someone has a fever, we tell them to take care of themselves. It doesn’t matter what you believe is causing the illness. They could have the flu, an upper respiratory infection, or something far more serious but we always say, “take care of yourself”. What is it about mental illness that doesn’t inspire the same response? Who cares if you think the person is being overly sensitive or in the depths of a very real struggle? Everyone should feel encouraged to take care of themselves. Cold or plague, bad-day or severe depression, the sentiment should be the same.
Thank you for reading this and no matter your struggles, please take care of yourself.