There has been a lot of talk and backlash from the mental health community about the use of the word “selfish” in regards to suicide. I felt as though I had to speak out as the caregiver of a bipolar spouse. You may not agree with me but hopefully you will at least be able to understand my point of view.
I have discussed my husbands episodes with mania in quite vivid detail. It is much more difficult for me to relive the dark days of depression. My husband went into a very deep depression for about 5 months. At that time, I was working while he was off on long-term disability. It was very difficult to leave him during those days but I had no choice. Someone had to work.
We talked a lot and I kept the conversation very open. I thought he was telling me everything. He was not. One day I came home to find him sitting in the bathroom with one of our large butcher knives. I was shocked and very upset. Looking back, I should have known. The signs were there. He just never said the words. The very first thought that popped into my head was, “You selfish prick! How could you even think of doing this to me?” I never said it out loud.
Those of us that live and take care of someone who has a mental illness, know very well the pain and agony you go through everyday. We understand the depths of despair you must be in to consider taking your own life. We understand how ill you are and that you think that committing suicide is the only way to free yourself from the way you feel and think. We know that you feel that this is your last and only option.
Is Suicide Selfish?
That said, we are the ones fighting for you, and with you. We are the ones in your corner, helping you everyday, and when you talk about taking your own life, we feel betrayed and hurt. Those are OUR honest emotions. We may “feel” you are being selfish. We can’t help how we feel anymore than you can’t help feeling depressed.
selfish (sel-fish) adjective
1. devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
2. characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself:selfish motives.
I looked at this definition and studied it. I came to one conclusion: that when we think it is you being selfish, it is in fact us being selfish. Because we want you here with us, no matter what we have to overcome together.
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