“I’m scum and deserve to be abandoned.”
Irish singer/songwriter Sinead O’Connor left an alleged suicide post on her Facebook wall this Sunday, telling followers she’d taken a drug overdose.
“The last two nights finished me off. I have taken an overdose. There is no other way to get respect. I am not at home, I’m at a hotel, somewhere in Ireland, under another name. If I wasn’t posting this, my kids and family wouldn’t even find out.”
The post, which was made to O’Connor’s authorized Facebook page and is believed to be legitimate, went on to speak of the loneliness the singer has felt living without a support network.
“My family don’t value me at all. They wouldn’t know if I was dead until weeks from now if I wasn’t fucking informing them now. Well done guys, you’ve finally got rid of me. Sorry the penny didn’t drop sooner. I’m an idiot.”
According to the Irish Examiner, Gardai Police were alerted to O’Connor’s message and have since checked in on her, reporting she is now “safe and well” and receiving medical treatment.
O’Connor has spoken openly about her battle with depression in the past, describing what it’s like to suffer from the often debilitating mental illness in an Oprah interview.
“It’s almost very difficult to explain when you are the person that suffers from the thing, but the best way I can describe it is it’s almost like before you get ill, you are a solid wall. And while you’re ill, it’s like the bricks are falling away and it’s one teetering little brick.”
In August last year, the singer, who has been named one of the 100 greatest female artists of all time, also told Sky’s Entertainment Week about negative public perceptions surrounding mental illness and the impact they’ve had on her recovery.
“When you admit that you are anything that could be mistakenly, or otherwise, perceived as ‘mentally ill’ you know that you are going to get treated like dirt so you don’t go tell anybody and that’s why people die.”
As someone who’s personally battled on and off with depression in the past, I’m no stranger to the pitying looks of people who assume you require special treatment in everyday life, or treat you as if they’re afraid you may at any second shatter like a fragile vase.
The reality of depression is much like any other chronic illness, it can be managed to the point it’s but a faint shadow in the back of your brain, like a bad ex-boyfriend you’d grown accustomed to for all the wrong reasons and can’t help but look back upon from time to time, if only as a reminder of how far you’ve come. And like any other chronic illness, it rears its head with varying levels of severity in its sufferers, instigating an innately personal set of symptoms.
While some sufferers require medical intervention, there are others, like me, with less severe symptoms who can manage the condition through diet, lifestyle and a strong support network. While I haven’t lapsed in years, I know the red flags that indicate it’s time for a check-in with my GP. And so like anyone else, I don’t desire to be wrapped in cotton wool and held at arm’s length.
O’Connor’s Facebook post may have been a cry for help, but it also makes a poignant point about the isolation sufferers of mental illness can feel when we treat them like foreign objects we’re not quite sure how to handle and subsequently deny them a sufficient support system.
Supporting someone through depression is one of the most challenging things you can do, physically, mentally and emotionally. But it’s important to remember that they are not choosing to have days where they can’t get out of bed, hold a conversation with anyone or crack a smile any more than someone hospitalized with an pneumonia is choosing to sit up through the night coughing and wrenching in pain.
But unlike someone with a broken arm or a viral infection, mental illness can be decidedly less straightforward to identify, and as such is often brushed under ther carpet, with phrases like, “She’s just having a bad day,” or “He can’t handle criticizm”. Perhaps depression sufferers so often take to social media to voice their inner demons through the keyboard because they aren’t given a vehicle to vocalize it otherwise.
So even if it’s awkward, tiresome or difficult, shouldn’t we take the time to stop and ask that person who sits in the cubicle opposite us at work and hasn’t seemed themselves in weeks if they’re okay? Because depression is more often than not a silent illness that leaves its sufferers quietly tip-toeing into the shadows while everyone else shrugs their shoulders and assumes that person is just ‘too sensitive’, ’emotional’ or ‘difficult’ to deal with, and as such, confirm the sufferer’s innermost fears, that they’re alone and will never be fully understood. As O’Connor put it in her Sunday Facebook post,
“I’m invisible…I’ve died a million times already with the pain of it.”
Comment: Have you gone through or do you know someone who has depression?