Friday, February 13, 2009

insensitivty to those grieving

i found out some horrible gossip about my coworkers the other night at the wake that i realized today still is bothering me. i was told that another coworker decided to tell one of my grieving coworkers that committing suicide means you go to hell. so, our friend who has passed is in hell. on top of that, other people who were not named have been saying the same thing. i know this may be seen as idle work gossip, but knowing the party involved i tend to believe it to be true. personally, i am pissed to hear that someone is so insensitive to say that. regardless of someone's religous beliefs, when someone is grieving, it is not the time to preach something so hurtful. i feel what was said was beyond hurtful and frankly unchristian. someone grieving needs empathy.
even though i was not witness to what was said, i found it colored my attitude towards the woman i was told made the statements. i avoided interaction with her. while she and i are not close, we regularly talk and i always make it a point to say good morning. i didn't today and could tell she was upset by this when she irately said good morning to me after i had been there for a while. i just wanted to avoid her all together not only because i was disgusted by the possibility she said these things, but also for fear i might blow up at her telling her how cruel i felt she had been.
beyond that, this attitude leads to the shame and misinformation associated with mental illness. i know the danger of this from personal experience. being indoctrinated with the believe that killing oneself is a damning sin leads people to believe that suicidal thoughts are sinful not just a result of a chemical imbalance. people then hide within themselves instead of getting the help needed. i feel victim to this trap. the first time my parents spoke to me about seeing a therapist or psychiatrist was when i was a sophomore in high school. the first time i finally sought out a therapist was at the age of 24 almost 9 years later. in the meantime, i developed an eating disorder, alcoholism, attempted suicide, as well as numerous other addictions. i can only imagine what might have been prevented had i felt comfortable to seek treatment earlier.
in addition, i still find there is stigma associated with mental illness. even i feel victim to this stigma. i remember the first time i had a therapist tell me i was bipolar. i flat out told her she was wrong. i told her she could say i was chemically depressed just not manic depressive. i refused to see her again. it took another year for me to accept the diagnosis.
for these reasons, i am very open about my mental illness and battle with alcoholism and addictions. i find that the more people who talk openly about mental illness and addiction the more people not only seek treatment but are understanding.
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