Friday 28th November 2014
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Tuesday links

isle of introverts

  • I love this. (Fast Company)
  • Really scary medical treatments from the turn of the last century. (Mental Floss)
  • Things that make you wonder what year it is, Part I. (AV Club)
  • Things that make you wonder what year it is, Part II. (Jezebel)
  • And finally: an especially sad RIP for Robin Williams. Suicide is never the solution, people. Not ever, and not for a second. (NY Times)
Posted on August 12th, 2014 17 Comments

17 Responses

  1. c.w. says:

    Robin Williams. (sigh)

  2. PD says:

    I wish you wouldn’t say suicide isn’t ever the solution, and not for a second. There is no reason to continue living when your quality of life makes said life a constant and unbearable struggle. Please remember that some–many!–people live in chronic pain–psychic pain, but also physical pain–and face degenerative diseases that they know will eventually lead to humiliating, drawn-out deaths that cause all involved to suffer. Right-to-Death is something I support, and your comments negate others’ realities.

    • KimFrance says:

      As somebody whose reality has included extended periods of chronic psychic pain—including many days when I wished I was not walking this earth—I have little patience for anyone telling me my comments negate the realities of others.

      • LVM says:

        You are entitled to your opinion, as is PMD. But don’t mistake your lack of patience with being right. Your experience does not sound similar to what s/he was referring to.

        • KimFrance says:

          To clarify: If we’re talking about unbearable physical degenerative illness, then yes that is a very different thing, and I am 100% for it, and wish it could have been an option for my stepfather—who desperately wished for it. But I will hold firm in my belief that, in the case of depression, it is not a solution.

          • Keirele says:

            And it is my belief that there is no need to differentiate depression (a mental illness) from a physical illness. If we allow people the right to end their own lives, ethically, we cannot not pick and choose which ailments are “acceptable” or judge their reasons for doing so. If we do that, we are weighing the pain of one person against the pain of another, which is, frankly, pointless.

            Don’t get me wrong, I wish with all my heart that no one felt the need to end their lives for any reason, but that’s not the world we live in.

          • viajera says:

            This is in reply to Keirele. I agree that being “judgy” isn’t useful, but if I were one of the people advocating for the right to commit assisted suicide, I would be careful about including mental illnesses (maybe not including dementia/Alzheimers – though of course consent would be an issue there).

            Many of us would have a big problem with it. Not because we are judgmental but just because we don’t want to encourage someone to do it. Who knows what new discovery or medication could happen next year? Next month? I wouldn’t want to judge someone else for suicide, but I can’t quite bring myself to approve *changing the law* to the extent you describe.

            And I’m not sure why it would be needed. The fact is, once you’re gone, the prosecutor can’t get you. So I would just be careful about how laws get written.

            On the other hand … I am sure that, person to person, if one were trying to talk someone else into helping one do this, even in the state(s?) where it’s legal, I would imagine you’d have to give them a pretty compelling case to get someone to help. So, on that level, maybe I worry too much? And on the third hand, there are some sadistic nuts walking around too.

            Well, it’s very complicated, that’s for sure.

          • Keirele says:

            Viajera, thanks for the thoughtful response. I don’t know that I’m advocating for changes to laws regarding assisted suicide. Regardless of ailment, consent will always an issue, and a cure for any disease could potentially be around the corner. Those are very valid concerns.

            I’m coming from the point of view of living with a degenerative disease for which there is no cure and for which there is scant research. In the past I have also experienced serious depression. In my job I have worked with people who have severe mental and/or physical disabilities, and who work very, very hard to take ownership of their lives.

            I’m sad that some feel that suicide is the only way to ease their pain. But I also feel that if we try to quantify or qualify other people’s experiences with pain, we tread in murky waters.

          • viajera says:

            Keirele: you make some very good points. And I think it is good for people who’ve had these experiences to speak out. Maybe we aren’t putting enough money into research, in a lot of areas. (In fact I’m pretty sure we aren’t, I’m sorry to say.) And that is just dumb of us, since we really don’t know what we might find out. That’s not the place we should be skimping. So even though I too might not agree with every thing disabled rights groups say, just as an example, I am very glad to see them. If they don’t talk, the rest of us just won’t know. And that’s no good at all.

  3. Jules says:

    I’ve lived with a chronic illness, a debilitating, painful, at times humiliating one. When it was killing me, I thought of putting myself out go my misery, but I didn’t. Death had taken my parents at a very young age, and I didn’t want to follow them at the age of 21. I had a series of very difficult surgeries to save my life. When I had the first one, and was dealing with the psychological and physical challenges, Robin Williams “Live at the Met” made me laugh until I cried. I was forever grateful to him for that experience because he made me realize that my problems, although at times overwhelming to me, were just a small part of who I was. If he could make people laugh from his troubles, well, I could laugh at mine, too. After yesterday’s news, I wish I could have returned the favor.

    • KimFrance says:

      That’s beautiful, Jules—so glad you stuck around and that you’re better and here. I think the love his fans felt for him probably helped lift Robin Williams from his pain a decent amount through the years. xx

  4. Dana D says:

    My sister passed while under the care of hospice after a lifelong struggle with a rare, neurological disease. She lived in Oregon, and while she could no longer use her arms to self-administer a fatal drug, she could decide to begin hospice and stop eating. Hospice is, for many, a form of “assisted suicide,” but I am not authorized to make that statement so I am glad that in this forum I may remain anonymous.

    I read Kim’s admonition as directed towards those with severe depression and I believe the message that suicide is not the answer, for the depressed, is one that must be affirmed. Mr. Williams left behind family members whose grief must be both profound and complicated.

  5. KimFrance says:

    Can I just say that moderating these impassioned, articulate comments—interdispersed as they are in my comments queue with talk of earrings and bucket bags—is why I love doing this blog, and so love hearing from all of you?

  6. DL says:

    I am a physician who is fortunate to have no personal history of mental illness, but who has seen firsthand that there is no hierarchy in suffering, that the suffering of depression can be as devastating as the suffering of chronic pain. I urge you to read viewpoints such as this: http://flavorwire.com/472027/robin-williams-and-the-myth-of-battling-depression — and to consider that people like Robin Williams are deserving of your judgement-free empathy no matter how they choose to die.

    • KimFrance says:

      I read that piece this afternoon. It was smart, empathic, and is precisely the type of piece I always wish I could give to people who truly don’t understand what I’m going through when my depression hits. And I should probably take this moment to clarify that I would never, ever judge a soul who chose the path that Robin Williams did. As the author of that piece wrote:”Suicide is an act that makes perfect, terrifying sense if you’re suicidal, and no sense at all if you’re not.” Robin Williams was too sick to be thinking anymore of the pain he’d cause those he was leaving behind. But that doesn’t change the fact that he has caused huge amounts of pain nevertheless. My wish is only that he could have hung on.

    • Dana D says:

      It is absolutely true that we ALL need more empathy, each one of us, in all situations, wherever we live, every day of our lives. We need to get better at teaching empathy in our homes and in our schools.

      I still did not read anything un-empathetic in Kim’s plea, if you will, that suicide is never the solution. My goodness, what would the treatment of depression look like if suicide WAS an option?

      If one person read those words today, and found a way to crawl out of his/her darkness, then this blog made the world a better place…

  7. KimFrance says:

    A dear friend just sent me this, which the author Rick Moody posted on his Facebook page today. I think it is beautiful and agree with every word.

    I have read, frequently, in the past 24 hours, that it would be good if depression were less stigmatized, and it would be good if people who suffered with it were open about their suffering, so that we might all understand better. So let me say that in my twenties I felt that ominous cloud move into the neighborhood for a couple of years. Its menace was astonishing to me and for a while I was all but powerless to dislodge it. I was hospitalized in those days. I still feel the thunder now and again, two towns over. I still remember the loneliness and the isolation. And I feel the impressions of my fellow sufferers and their families. I pray for them. We do the best we can while we are here. Those who are not able to stay teach us a lot about courage. They are not weak, while they are here, they are very, very strong. This I can tell you because I remember.