I just started my new job working with people who have been diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illness. Their lives are hard. Being them and getting through the day is hard. Sometimes being with them is hard. Usually being their family member is hard. It’s not the kind of life any of us would choose to have if we were given the choice. It turns out that I kind of like the part of my job that is getting to know these people.
They’re in your neighborhood, you know. They’re in mine.
Last week a young person I like a lot lost his grandfather. The man was in his early 60s. He killed himself. He hadn’t been well, but the family wasn’t expecting his death. They certainly weren’t expecting to find his body last Saturday morning in the home they all shared. He used a gun to end his life. It was traumatic for his family to say the least.
The cause of death was a gunshot. But it was mental illness that killed him. This man, who had a wife of over 40 years and 11 grandchildren also had gangrene that had invaded his entire body. He was terrified of doctors. He didn’t confide in his family, and no one knew the extent of his sickness until he was gone. It’s a heavy burden and a hard way to be.
Every time I see one of those Wayne Dyer inspirational posters talking about how you’re in charge of your own future and everything that happens to you is the result of your own choices, I think about people like that grandpa. Sure, he made choices. But what kind of positive good does telling him his life is the result of his own choices do? How is something like that helpful to anyone but people who are already happy and stable? And then, what the fuck good is that? For those people Wayne Dyer quotes are just self-congratulatory psycho-lube.
Sometimes I get crabby about Wayne Dyer. Also about suicide and about how life can be just a miserable slog for some people.
I’m writing unedited lately, so cut me some slack.