Last week was a rough week for mental health. Up the road from where I live a woman cut a fetus out of a pregnant mother. In Europe a pilot with a history of depression crashed a plane. There are many obvious victims here: the mom who never met her baby, her unborn child, the passengers of the plane, and the pilot of the plane. I empathize with other people in the shadow of these stories.
The pilot had a girlfriend and parents. They probably know a bigger story than the one horrible decision he made. They have seen his struggles. They have talked endlessly with him about his fears, his problems and his dreams. They may have wished his suffering would end at times, but they never wanted this ending. If he was a good actor and hid his feelings they are hurt and sad and furious that such a thing could happen to him, and to them. Their lives are forever changed because he is gone, hundreds died, and they are left with the loss and the burden of what he did, and the question about what they could have done to change it.
The woman who cut the baby out had a husband. He took her and the fetus to the hospital. What mentally healthy person would do what she did? He is likely pouring over every detail of his life with her and wondering what he could have done to stop the tragedy, and his life is tainted by the ramifications of what his wife did.
Mental illness runs rampant and there is so little you can do if you love someone who is sick. The stigma of mental illness is real and asking for help is a series of hard choices. Medicate and risk losing the person you love to a haze of drugs. Hospitalize and risk the person’s job, livelihood and reputation. Do nothing and risk your loved one injuring himself or others. While all this is going on you are stuck with a person who resembles your loved one but is hidden behind a cloud of anger, sadness and fear. You can’t get to him/her to ask what they need from you, what they want from you or what you should do. It is a horrible place to be.
I don’t personally know the people involved in either of these news stories, but I have been personally involved in depression, and I cannot fathom what these poor families are going through. It makes my heart sick.