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Stop The Insanity!

Updated on June 21, 2012

When mental illness takes the life of a loved one

Mental illness is very real to me. I lost one of my brothers to suicide. There is nothing 'painless' about it, as one popular song goes. It's been many years, but i still feel the loss of one so dear to me. He was a gentle spirit, sweet and kind. I miss the times when i used to watch him play chess and beat challenger after challenger. He was so good, he was the talk of the town, he was likened to Bobby Fisher. I remember his heartache because his college professor thought his writings were plagiarisms. I told him they were too good, and their doubt was a compliment. I assured him, i believed his work were authentic, but i'm not sure my validation meant much. He was nineteen when he became ill, and our family watched the neurosis take hold of his bright mind, and reduce it to what seemed like a vacuum. The four year battle would be lost despite the best medical treatment. He was twenty three years old when he took his own life.

Mental illness is treatable, with new findings and technology. Things may have been different for us, if my brother had lived in this day and age, of more advanced discoveries. The old raw method administered in the past were experimental, and are now obsolete. Remember the movie, "Beautiful Mind" with Russell Crowe? There was a scene where Nobel Laureate, John Nash, suffering from schizophrenia, had just been given a "Shock Treatment" ? That sight was my reality whenever i used to visit my brother at the hospital. I was in my teens, and could barely process what was going on. It was like a bad dream, to see him being wheeled, dazed, knocked out, with foam in his mouth. I felt sick at the sight. His untimely death was a tragic episode that proved too much to bear. It tore our family apart. I was too young to understand the disease that snuffed my brother's life. I still wonder if we could have done more to prevent what happened.

I do worry about our children and the assault on their young minds given the horrific influences of a crazed planet. How do we protect them from a world that's getting more weird each day? Nowadays, it's cool to be odd, act strange, live at the edge and self 'destruct'. Are we seeing insanity as the 'new norm'? Johann von Goethe said, "We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe."

CBS reported: The Tucson shooting is the latest tragedy linked to a gunman believed to be mentally ill. In 1993, Colin Ferguson killed six commuters on a New York Train. In 1998, Russell Weston killed two at the U.S. Capitol. In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho murdered 32 people at Virginia Tech. This puts a spotlight on mental illness. In this country, 45 million adults are mentally ill. 11 million of those cases are considered serious. World Health tells us, there are 450 million people globally suffering from mental disorders in both developed and developing countries. 154 million suffer from depression, 25 million from schizophrenia, 91 million from alcohol use disorder and 15 million drug use disorder.

News everyday remind us there is insanity everywhere. Mental illness is a serious problem, health challenge that is under-recognized as a public burden. The toll of mental illness is tragic: Every year, almost one million people die from suicide; a "global" mortality rate of 16 per 100,000, or one death every 40 seconds. More than two-thirds of American women interviewed for an American Psychiatric Association survey say that the nation’s sagging economy has negatively affected their lives and the lives of their loved ones. The findings also indicate women may be neglecting their own needs while focusing on other concerns. Women in the survey report sharp increases in stress, anxiety, frustration and other negative mental health indicators since the recession, with job loss pushing these increases even higher.

When mental illness destroy the lives of the innocent

Columbine Campus psycho killer duo
Columbine Campus psycho killer duo

Greg Toppo of ,USA TODAY, from his article, 10 years later, the real story behind Columbine, reports...

"Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were a deeply disturbed, suicidal pair who psyched each other up for an Oklahoma City-style terrorist bombing, an apolitical, over-the-top revenge fantasy against years of snubs, slights and cruelties, real and imagined. Along the way, they saved money from after-school jobs, took Advanced Placement classes, assembled a small arsenal and fooled everyone — friends, parents, teachers, psychologists, cops and judges. "These are not ordinary kids who were bullied into retaliation," psychologist Peter Langman writes in his new book, Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters. "These are not ordinary kids who played too many video games. These are not ordinary kids who just wanted to be famous. These are simply not ordinary kids. These are kids with serious psychological problems."Types of Mental Illness."

There are many different conditions that are recognized as mental illnesses. The more common types include:

  • Anxiety disorders: People with anxiety disorders respond to certain objects or situations with fear and dread, as well as with physical signs of anxiety or nervousness, such as a rapid heartbeat and sweating.
  • Mood disorders: These disorders, also called affective disorders, involve persistent feelings of sadness or periods of feeling overly happy, or fluctuations from extreme happiness to extreme sadness. The most common mood disorders are depression, mania, and bipolar disorder.
  • Psychotic disorders: Psychotic disorders involve distorted awareness and thinking. Two of the most common symptoms of psychotic disorders are hallucinations -- the experience of images or sounds that are not real, such as hearing voices Schizophrenia is an example of a psychotic disorder.
  • Eating disorders: Eating disorders involve extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors involving weight and food. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are the most common eating disorders.
  • Impulse control and addiction disorders: People with impulse control disorders are unable to resist urges, or impulses, to perform acts that could be harmful to themselves or others. Pyromania (starting fires), kleptomania (stealing), and compulsive gambling are examples of impulse control disorders. Alcohol and drugs are common objects of addictions.
  • Personality disorders: People with personality disorders have extreme and inflexible personality traits that are distressing to the person and/or cause problems in work, school, or social relationships. In addition, the person's patterns of thinking and behavior significantly differ from the expectations of society and are so rigid that they interfere with the person's normal functioning. Examples include antisocial personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and paranoid personality disorder.

Note, that widespread assumptions about mental illnesses tend to overlook one important reality, which is, as many as eight in ten people suffering from mental illnesses can effectively return to normal, productive lives if they receive appropriate treatment. These treatments are readily available. Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals can help patients in a wide variety of effective treatments. This help is available, to anyone, no matter what age, economic status or race, as mental illness can happen to anyone.

The American Psychiatric Association offers the following tips:

How to Maintain a Healthy Mind

Keep your mental health in balance when there is increased stress. Mental health is essential to overall health. Recognize that stress affects your entire body. Physical activity, diet, sleep and stress management all play a part in having a healthy mind and a healthy life. Taking care of your own needs will help you remain healthy and able to respond to the needs of your family.

  1. Surround Yourself with Supportive People
  2. Look to family and friends for support when facing an emotionally stressful situation. Surround yourself with people you trust and who have your best interests in mind. Their encouragement and feedback will help you think positively.
  3. Focus on the Positive
  4. Avoid activities that cause you to dwell on why you’re stressed. Amid the steady drumbeat of negative economic news, limit your news consumption and make time for other activities, such as listening to music or reading a book. Make sure conversations with friends, family or co-workers do not dwell too long on stressful or negative topics.
  5. Socialize and Have Fun
  6. Invite friends and family for low cost and fun activities – watch a movie or play a game at home, take a hike or a walk, and/or arrange a neighborhood cookout. Inexpensive social activities can help keep you and your family healthy and focused on the positive.
  7. Know When to Get Additional Support
  8. Stay in tune with how you are feeling. Even when you are taking positive steps to manage stress, you can get to a point where you need additional help. If you notice that stress is interfering with your daily life, there are many places you can turn to for support – including your family doctor, religious or spiritual advisor, or a mental health professional.

If You or Someone You Know Is in Crisis and Needs Immediate Help

Call your physician’s office.

Call 911 for emergency services.

Go to the nearest hospital emergency room.

Ask a family member or friend to help you make these calls or take you to the hospital.

Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

A daily battle for our sanity

Looking at my own journey of struggles, i know I could be in a mental asylum today, if not for my faith in God. I am thankful for the blessing of having a very loving family and a community of precious friends. Life is tough for most, and trying to cope requires what i feel many times is 'supernatural strenght'. I've seen the worst of man. I thought i would go crazy when my daughter and i were cheated of our inheritance, and felt helpless to fight back. I used to have meltdowns whenever the gossip mill spews hurtful and untruthful stories, bringing back the ugliness of the past.

I have witnessed an early monring traffic altercation on my way to work, when a 'distinguished' looking man shot and killed the taxi driver he was arguing with. I had nightmares about it, and i am paranoid about being in traffic anywhere. Once, my husband and i sat in our car in a parking lot and heard a woman (inside her SUV) screaming, and cursing, at the top of her voice. We were sure she would suffer a heart attack. There's no way it seems to control these insanities but, we are not completely helpless to do something our loved ones mental state and health. There is help, and it is our responsibility to find it before it's too late.


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    • IslandVoice profile imageAUTHOR

      Sylvia Van Velzer 

      7 years ago from Hawaii

      I'm so glad to know there is actual help out there, and that it's working for your sons. If we can continue the conversation, from those of us who are willing to talk about it, then maybe there will be more awareness, and more effective treatment to be found. Continue to be strong.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for the blessings, IslandVoice. : ) Yes, my sons have been on medications and under a doctor's care. I wouldn't dream of going without either, to help them understand their dilemma now. Although at the time of their 'episodes'; discovery of the problem, we had no one whom we could turn to, to help. But, things worked out eventually, like that light at the end of the dark tunnel. I said a lot of prayers and tried to stay strong through it all. It has been a long and winding road, so I appreciate anyone with the courage to share in their own life stories with a topic than can sometimes be quite 'touchy' and misunderstood.

    • IslandVoice profile imageAUTHOR

      Sylvia Van Velzer 

      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Hi Shygirl. No one of us ask to have mental illness visit our families and homes. I can only imagine what it's like for you and your sons. I hope you are getting help for them, and for yourself. I only touched on a little aspect of the disease, and thought it would be of some benefit for others to share my own painful journey. Thank you for your comment, and ok. God bless you and your sons.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I thought your hub was very informative and enlightening. I have two sons who are considered 'mentally ill'. There are still those out there that do not understand it and even shun those with it. Having been through their issues, dealing with the consequences, it is very heart-wrenching and scarey. I feel for you and your family having suffered a loss, such as in your brother's case. I admire your strength through it all, as you have handled things in a positve way through outreach. Thanks for sharing this with us! :D Up and awesome.

    • IslandVoice profile imageAUTHOR

      Sylvia Van Velzer 

      7 years ago from Hawaii

      I'm sorry to hear that AA. It's a horrible thing. God bless you, and thanks for the visit.

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 

      7 years ago from Texas

      I've lost family to suicide. Very tragic. Thank you for sharing.

    • IslandVoice profile imageAUTHOR

      Sylvia Van Velzer 

      7 years ago from Hawaii

      H2, i thought it was time to share this tragic episode of an illness that struck our home, and how big this problem really is. Glad to know it brought some enlightenment. Peace!

      Mickey: Suicide is painful in more ways than anybody can imagine. I knew my brother was sick, but i never thought he would take his own life. The affects of his death still lingers. Thanks for your visit. Blessings to you as well.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      7 years ago

      Suicide is painful. God bless your family.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for your writing all this down which much have hard for yhou. It certainly gave me a glimpse of this traumatic illness. I never knew there are so many effected.


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