31 March 2017

Requiem: Amy Bleuel

Amy
I suppose I should write something about the death of Amy Bleuel, the founder of Project Semicolon.

Amy committed suicide.

It saddened me greatly, but did not surprise me.
There is a dirty little secret in the depression/bipolar community that we don’t talk about because it goes against the eternally happy you-can-do-it ethos slammed down our throats in America:

15% mortality rate.

That, strictly speaking, is the fatality rate for people with bipolar disease, not necessarily depression. It is the number of people who will die as a direct result of their disease either by suicide or some other behavior associated with the disease that results in death.

Some cancers have a lower fatality rate. Yet, we see cancer as a medical issue to be addressed with great resources. We see mental illness, as a corporate society, as something to be tolerated within boundaries while Big Pharma develops one useless drug after another.

The dirty little secret is no one can tell, no one can predict, no one knows for sure whether the smiling, outgoing, full of life person you knew on Monday isn’t going to be swinging from a rope on Tuesday.

And the scary thing is – the person with the illness generally doesn’t know it either.
So did Amy, who was a depression sufferer with other attempted suicides, wake up one day and Klingon-style, declare ‘this is a good day to die?’

Perhaps, but we’ll probably never know; and that is the worst part.

Experts prattle on about ‘suicide prevention’ as if there was some kind of ethereal naloxone for mentally ill people that can ‘sniff’ out those predisposed to suicide and offer some kind of fix to get their tortured brains to see things ‘a different way.’

It’s all bullshit. We exist by the grace of God, if you’re a believer, by sheer luck and circumstance if you’re not.

Amy Bleuel, like every one with this illness, fought it every day. And every day, like the rest of us, she woke up wondering what hand her brain was being dealt that day. Or, think of it this way – every day you get up and roll the dice. One day it comes up snake eyes. Why? No idea. One day your brain says, that’s all.

That’s all I can stand. Take the pain away.

And no amount of cheery self-help bullshit or bootstrap mentality is going to have any effect. Sorry.
One day, all the king’s horses (psych meds) and all the king’s men (mental health professionals) can’t put your shattered brain back together again. Self-medication has reached its limits and your brain told you that finally on this day, you could indeed, fly.

We still do what we can in terms of reaching out for help, taking our meds, battling the demons within. But the one thing no one talks about is the demons outside – a society and economic system that is unforgiving to those with these illnesses. Never discount the effect that the world we live in can deal from the bottom of the deck or load the dice any given morning.

But since society won’t change and it’s still winner-take-all, dog-eat-dog (and getting more so), at some point there is an existential angst that contributes mightily to the brain’s decision to push the button.

Amy’s whole cause was to get the survivors and the sufferers to find each other and find strength and support. It was also to use that semicolon tattoo as a way to try to educate a society on how many of us are out there fighting in ways you’ll never know.

But there was something else. Amy was a believer. She believed in a God of love and mercy and tried her best to express that in everything she did and said.

“Faith for me plays big around the aspect of love and hope. I have had the opportunity to have people come into my life and love me with a Christ like love. Through that love I am empowered to continue my story and spread that same love to others. To have faith in something bigger than yourself allows you to keep striving for something more, something bigger.” – Amy Bleuel

I don’t know what to say. There are no guarantees. One day, for reasons no one else will understand, it will be the day. People search for reasons but sometimes there are no reasons; there are only reactions.

If I could give any advice at a time like this it would be this: understand that no one really wants to die. They just want to feel like they are needed and wanted, not shunted aside as a societal embarrassment. They want dignity and respect, not frightened stares and mumbled excuses.

For whatever time people have on this earth, they need a mission that connects them with what is real, what matters – not the false values of consumerism, but the interconnectedness of human souls that, working together, can truly save the world.

“People want to know they’re not suffering in silence, you feel alone like no one cares, to know someone is there, that is what these people go forth with, they take this energy to better themselves,” Bleuel said. “I think it’s just opening the minds of society. I would hope through my stories and platforms that they would see these are everyday people, just like you, and they’re attempting to make their lives better, but here is what they struggle with.”
“I wanted to start a conversation that can’t be stopped,” she said, “and I believe I’ve done that.”