Help bring mental illness out of the closet.

Written and Submitted by Kathy Swisher

May of 2018 was the 15th anniversary of my Dad’s suicide. 

A very similar story, although I wasn’t lucky enough to have had my family stand by me through that incredibly difficult period. When I got the call at work, I was frozen, catatonic, I couldn’t speak, move, nothing. My partner, Shell, came to pick me up and take me home. The very thought of going directly to my Dad’s house was out of the question. I had not seen my Dad for 18 months prior to this event. 

Why? Because I couldn’t stop trying to get him help and he didn’t like it. I was ostracized for reasons that never made sense to me then or now. No one in my family believed that he had Mental Illness or they chose to ignore it. I was never to know which. Time has passed and wounds have healed, but I will never forget the pain my families decisions caused me. 

My Dad was never formally diagnosed, but it was easy for me (a consumer) to see what he would have been diagnosed with had I been successful in getting him to seek help. His Mental Illness had morphed into something dark and unpredictable after 911 happened. I believed that he had anxiety issues, bipolar, ptsd, and a form Schizophrenia. He was hearing voices at that point (after 911). He had no support as my Stepmother never believed that he had a mental illness at all. It was an incredibly difficult journey that may not have happened had I been successful in my attempts to get Dad help and had some sort of support from my siblings and Stepmother. That was not to be. 

Dad was the 3rd suicide on that side of the family in 30 years. To this day, mental illness still lives in the closet. I continue to fight to bring it into the light of day within my family. I have a brother who is diagnosed but non-compliant, a brother who has Schizo-affective disorder and is institutionalized, my other siblings have mental illness of varying levels, although they would never admit it. If you can do anything within your own family to bring mental illness out of the closet and into the open, find a way to do it!!! You may save a life as a result. 

Too many people are ending their lives too soon and it is shameful to think that you could have done something about it and chose not to. Their lives are too important. Thanks for letting me have a small voice here. I appreciated your story/journey. Peace~

Kathy Swisher