He Lost His Battle with Mental Illness …

chatrapati-shivaji-maharaj-1057875-mThey say it all the time, “He lost his battle with Heart Disease.” or “She just couldn’t beat that Cancer.”


You never hear, “He lost his battle with Mental Illness.” or “She just couldn’t beat her Bipolar.”


Why does it always go something more like, “He committed suicide.” or “She killed herself!”?

Because that IS what it goes like every time. She offed herself, he hung himself, he put a bullet in his brain, she went and OD’d. There is so much disgust in each and every one of those statements. So much shame. So much disappointment.

A well-known young adult author, Ned Vizzini, died yesterday. “According to the Los Angeles Times, Vizzini committed suicide.” Which is not only sad and heartbreaking, it is also a tragedy that it has to be said so plainly, so bluntly and in such a way that it shames his name.

I know, I know. I’m being a bit dramatic, but I can’t help it.

FACT – Almost 2 Months ago exactly … I almost lost my battle with bipolar.

FACT – I somehow rose above the lies my mind was telling me and decided to get help.

FACT – Without the army of support and resources I had by my side, the outcome may have been very difficult.

I am NOT condoning taking one’s life, and I hope no one gets that from what I am saying here, but I do know that it does happen sometimes. And I also know, from experience, sometimes without someone else putting that voice into your head saying, “You can have a better life. Just seek the help you need!”, that it’s not always possible to win.

However, let’s be honest, in some of the more tragic cases, even with support and help, your own mind wins regardless. Our minds are powerful. They can have us believing the most ridiculous of things. Sometimes it’s impossible to discern fact from fiction and unfortunately the things we believe are facts, are anything but.


That doesn’t mean we don’t try to fight. Or at the very least we SHOULD try to fight. We should fight like hell actually. I know I fight like hell. And so far I’ve kicked the shit out of this battle. I’ve pretty much told my illness it can go shove it … and where! If I am able, if I am coherent, and if I am not of a delusional state, you can bet I’ll be fighting.


What if I am not able? What if I am not coherent? What if I am having delusions? What if I just can’t fight anymore???

Those what ifs ARE a possibility. For anyone suffering from any mental illness that includes at the very least depression, those what ifs can disappear and become statements … I am not able. I am not coherent. I am having delusions. I just can’t fight anymore.

If those things happen, is that person who fought like hell up until that point any less valiant because they lost the battle? Do all the battles that had been won get swept under the rug? Does he or she no longer get to be known for their strength, but instead for their weakest moment?

Well I can tell you for certain, if (and I hope that if is a NEVER) I ever lose my battle with mental illness … I sure as hell hope that I am known for going out as a fighter. Because just like a cancer patient getting chemo and having surgeries, I too have sought out treatment, taken meds and even been hospitalized. I have fought. I will continue to fight. Still, if I ever do lose the battle, I know it will not be because I gave up, it will be because my mental illness was bigger than  me.

So, to Ned Vizzini, I am so sorry you lost your battle. May you rest in peace and please know, though you were not able to beat your illness, you fought valiantly, made a huge difference, and went out as a hero!!!


If you are thinking about harming yourself, or know someone who is, we advise you to get help immediately by doing one or all of the following:

  1. Call your doctor.
  2. Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room to get immediate help or ask a friend or family member to help you do these things.
  3. Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor.
  4. Make sure you or the suicidal person are not left alone.

7 thoughts on “He Lost His Battle with Mental Illness …

  1. The last comment I left on this blog was one of vile judgement. Marybeth–PLEASE take my apology and forgive me! I will admit, I almost lost the battle, too. I attempted to take my life last year. I like this post. You are right! It is like losing a battle to cancer or another illness. We shouldn’t be shamed if the mental illness gets too big and we lose the fight. And it IS a fight! People do not really understand unless they’ve been there. Even though our communication has been scare I think of you…a lot. No lie here. Just being honest. I, too, hope I can go out as looking like a fighter if I lose, but we have to make a voice known and advocate like hell to make sure others know we fight every single day! Just like those with other diseases.

  2. Thank you! That is very poignant and inspiring. I agree that taking one’s on life is written and spoken about in such a negative way. Losing a battle with mental illness is so much more precise, so much more relevant. I have been in and out of hospitals and currently feel like I am losing this battle. I am still fighting though. I hope that if I ever did lose that people would think of me that way, that I did fight.

  3. It’s okay. I realize we all go through our ups and downs. It happens and my admiration for you hasn’t waivered. I kinda figured you were going through something … and/or at least hoped. I’m glad you are still fighting and didn’t lose. I think this has been an aweful year and we should seriously all give ourselves a pat on the back for making it through.

    I do sincerely hope you continue to fight along side me 🙂

    <3 Hugs <3

  4. Thank you for your kind words. I do hope you continue to keep fighting. It may feel like you are losing the battle right now, but I promise that is temporary and there is a great deal more to be fought … and an even greater amount of things to be gained.


  5. I’ve fought, too–through six hospitalizations and years of therapy and medicine. So far I am winning out. I fought through a depression earlier this year without suicidal thinking, which I count as a major victory. It can be fought with good treatment and lots of support. If you want to know more about my fight, you can see it on http://www.julielwhitehead.wordpress.com.

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