Sinead O’Connor is Telling Us Mental Illness is Killing Her. We Should Listen.

Earlier this year Sinead O’Connor posted a video from a New Jersey hotel room, in which she shares in raw, unflinching detail, her long battle with mental illness.

In the video she is shaken and terrified and lonely.
She is angry, vulnerable, heartbroken. 
The frustration in her eyes and her voice are palpable.

“People who suffer from mental illness are the most vulnerable people on Earth.”she pleads. “You’ve got to take care of us. We’re not like everybody.” 

I wonder if it matters.
I wonder if it will take her leaving to matter.
That seems to be how this all works.

In the aftermath of the suicides of high-profile figures like Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington in recent days, or Robin Williams or Kurt Cobain well before them—the world suddenly fills with grief-stricken fans offering tributes, sharing their disbelief, and lamenting the shock of the loss. They adorn doorsteps with makeshift memorials. They gather in tear-filled vigils. They create posthumous tributes. 

And in the hours immediately following such tragedies—they comb through the dead person’s social media posts, song lyrics, and last days, asking the question, “Could we have seen the signs? Were their signs pointing to something so terrible?”

Sinead O’Connor is a neon sign.
She is a flashing billboard.

Her every word, every tear, every quaking expletive born out of desperation, is a rescue flare shot into the night sky.
She is telling us where she is and how to find her.
She is showing us what it is to live with mental illness, and how pressed against the precipice of staying here, that she and so many others are.

She is begging us to give a damn while she can still feel it.
She is telling us in essence, that were her premature demise to come, it should not be a shock to us.

This is the part of mental illness that we struggle with: mentally ill people; those who are abrasive or self-destructive or volatile. We don’t like to deal with that. We don’t like to watch people ranting in lousy hotels rooms about how alone they feel and are.

We don’t care for people with mental illness very well.
We distance ourselves, we minimize their sickness, we condemn their symptoms.
We wash our hands when they become too difficult to handle, when their care becomes too messy.
We ghost them.

We don’t do this to Cancer victims or to people with Heart Disease or those ravaged by infection. We don’t make fun of them, we don’t call them weak, we don’t question their choices—and we sure as hell don’t leave them alone to be overtaken by their illnesses.

The one thing we do really well with mentally ill and depressed people is to memorialize them and to navel gaze later on what we might have missed while they were alive..

We shouldn’t miss this.

Sinead O’Connor is saying on this side of existence, “Help me and people like me, while we’re still here.” She is asking us to step into the storm of mental illness and rescue people.

She is asking it for singers and actors—but  for police officers, for school teachers and stay at home parents, too. She’s asking it for high school students and veterans and elderly couples. She is asking it for tens of millions of people who may not have the strength to lay themselves out in a video for the world to critique.

I hope we listen to Sinead.
I hope someone who is close enough to her, reaches out and into her life and tells her she’s worth fighting for, that she’s beautiful, that she’s not alone, that she matters.

I hope we all do this for our parents and spouses and children and best friends and neighbors and co-workers who need this.
I hope we begin treating mental illness like the deadly disease it is.

I hope we learn to love mentally ill people well—instead of settling on eulogizing them well.


Order John’s book, ‘A Bigger Table’ here.



271 thoughts on “Sinead O’Connor is Telling Us Mental Illness is Killing Her. We Should Listen.

  1. I am unfamiliar with this woman and her work, which is probably my loss.

    I pray with all my heart that people listen to her and to you, John P. I have shared my story of mental illness, Major Depressive Disorder, in the past. I have been very up front about it because I refuse to allow the stigma attached to mental illness matter.

    People must be brought to understand that no one makes the choice to have this disease. No one has it because they are lazy or of weak intellect.

    There are genetic markers for the various forms of mental illness, so it is in a person’s DNA. I’ll just mention that in the GOP’s evil health nocare plan, mental illness would be a pre-existing condition and no one with it would be able to get health insurance.

    People need help. They need love. They need support. Mental illness is in epidemic numbers in the USA and those are only the cases that are being treated. There are a whole lot more people who don’t get help because of the stigma or because of the ignorant uninformed comments by judgemental people. Evangelicals and fundies lead the list in abusing ill people with their cruelly vicious comments and treatment.

    Here’s a place to start:

    And I beg all readers of this blog to take the pledge to be stigma free:

      • Thank you. As I don’t listen to any stations except classical and jazz, I had not heard her before. She has a lovely voice.

        Some of the most gifted people in the world have also had a mental illness. Artists and musicians in particular.

        It is a shame that so many people struggle with it in silence. I rejoice for her courage to speak out.

        • Personally,I think any hint from a depressed or troubled person no matter who they are,expressing suicidal or self destructive feelings,should be taken very seriously. Too many have been ignored. Still today mental illness is often shovelled conveniently under a carpet of ignorance. I’m hoping people in general will educate themselves about these issues.

          • Fiona Swart wrote “Personally,I think any hint from a depressed or troubled person no matter who they are,expressing suicidal or self destructive feelings,should be taken very seriously.”

            Amen and thank you for saying.

            Too many people choose to ignore and not become involved. Too many people also mock, as we have seen here in these comments.

            • People expressing a desire for death aren’t necessarily mentally disturbed or even depressed. Many simply have a serious disease or highly advance age, with all that goes with that.

        • Her arrangement of this song is mesmerizing and was written by Prince, another gifted but wounded soul who left us too young.

        • In South Africa 🇿🇦 some people are starting to recognize metal illness but unfortunately a large majority still stigmatize it as a curse or they say that person has gone crazy 😜 due to the lack of knowledge they have about mental illness every year someone dies from suicide as a result of their mental illness and the lack of knowledge concerning mental illness there is a shortage of psychologists and psychiatrists in the medical field in our country but those who are in the medical field are doing a good 😊 job as for me I learned about mental illness through watching the oprah Winfrey show a back in my teenage years

          • Sanele wrote, “In South Africa 🇿🇦 some people are starting to recognize mental illness but unfortunately a large majority still stigmatize it as a curse or they say that person has gone crazy.”

            I am sorry to learn that South Africans suffer in this regard. I sincerely hope that it changes.

            Oprah has done a lot of good and I am glad her show was a source of information for you.

      • My brother has been fighting with schizophrenia for almost 14 years, now he´s 34 years old. It’s tough and hard live with this for all the family and most for him. But I’m proud that today all of we are more prepared to deal with this challenge. Thanks to the professional people and special organizations that know about mental illness and help families. Greetings from Monterrey, Mexico.

      • That is a great song, indeed, one of many she’s either written or covered. I’ve battled depression all my life; I planned my suicide at 20, but something made me not do it. I’ve written about it, been through numerous therapies, and writing and music have been the saving graces for me, plus that I have just decided I will not die, not like this. I sympathize completely with Sinead, musical greatness or not; she is clearly screaming for our help. I hope people will see that, and she gets the help she needs. Depression and mental illness are wearing on a person’s body and mind, not to mention spirit. I hope for the best for her.

      • I feel great live and. Compassion or touch . I pray god oaths you with someone to guide you through your difficult time .be open Minded to try what it takes. To. Be restored to the beautiful person you our

        • I feel great love ❤️ and compassion for you , may god place the right people I need your path . Wrote a note before , spell ck also changed it . Hope this gets through . Love ❤️ tina

    • Gloriamarie. Here is her most famous song. It is about her mother—the one she has blamed all her life for driving her into mental illness—at least that is what she said back in the 1980s:

      • I can relate to that, Charles, there was a time when I blamed my parents for driving me into mental illness until I was mature enough to understand that they too had mental illness.

          • Did he, Laura? By the time Prince came on the scene, the only music I was listening to was classical, jazz, blues, and folk.

            I gave up on rock when heavy metal came in as it gave me the migraine. So I never heard Prince, that I know of.

      • Sinead, please come stay at Iris Place in Appleton, Wisconsin , run by NAMI Fox Valley. It is a free peer run respite home, you are supposed to be from WI, but you have no home state. Fly in somewhere close, and I will come get you. Milwaukee, Chicago, Appleton, green bay

      • It was written by Prince not Sinead. It’s dedicated to her mother but it’s not about her mother because she didn’t write it.

      • Considering Prince wrote this song I’m doubtful its got anything to do with Sineads mother. Thanks for the misinformation though.

      • For complete accuracy, the song was actually written by Prince, and so was not actually about Sinead O’Connor’s mother. What she *did* acknowledge was that during the making of the video she wept some tears when she thought of her mother who had died in a car accident in 1985, some 4 or 5 years earlier.

        • Does it really matter???? The article is about the battle Sinèad is dealing with, not about this song!!! Thoughts and prayers go out to her, and all those that suffer from mental illness~ 🙏🏼🙏🏼

        • You are literally about the tenth person to write that. Who. Cares. It’s a beautiful song, rendered beautifully, and if Sinead was thinking of her Mum at any point while she sang it, it speaks to who she was. Literalists make me so VERY tired.

      • Actually, Prince wrote this song, and it’s about her (the singer) missing her boyfriend.

        “I could put my arms around every boy I see
        But they’d only remind me of you
        I went to the doctor and guess what he told me?
        Guess what he told me?
        He said girl you better try to have fun
        No matter what you do, but he’s a fool”

      • I can’t believe how young she is here. That was a long time ago. She could rock that bald look too. Hope that someone she knows is close by to help her.

        • Does it matter that she sang a song someone else wrote? Nearly all of the “hot pop” singers of today are doing it now, with a good chunk of those songs written by two people. She made it her own with her heart felt performances. I hate that she is struggling with mental illness but I can relate.

      • The song was written by Prince. The comment in the 80’s was regarding the video of the song, where she lets a single tear fall and later explained the love and loss reminded her of her mother’s tragic death in a car-wreck.

      • Actually Charles, this song was written by Prince in 1984. Quoted from
        Initial tracking for Prince’s original version took place on 18 July 1984 at the Flying Cloud Drive Warehouse, Eden Prairie (the same day Let’s Go Crazy was released as a single). St. Paul Peterson and Susannah Melvoin overdubbed vocals onto the track in late 1984 – early 1985, and Clare Fischer added orchestral overdubs during the same period.

        Prince was inspired to write the song about Sandy Scipioni, his personal assistant in 1980, who had to leave suddenly after her father’s death (Prince and Scipioni were not in a romantic relationship, however).

        Sinead O’Connor released it in 1990.

      • False. She didn’t write this song and it is not about her mother. it was authored by Prince. She might have interpreted his lyrics and connected it to her own experiences. But it’s not her song, it’s a cover.

    • People that struggle with mental problems do not need medication, better health insurance, or distractions …they need Jesus…and people in their lives that follow Him…. that truly love …Gods way and think more of others than they do of themselves. Love as God describes it…4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13). If we all lived this way …. those who had mental issues would have all the support and attention they need…they could truly get help

      • My daughter firmly believed in and loved your Jesus. Her strong belief did not make her want to live. She took her life 2 weeks ago. We will be forever haunted.

      • I’m sorry, but that is naive. There are people who have Jesus in their lives, in good churches, who still struggle with mental illness. Sometimes it’s in the form of hyper-religious ideation. Sometimes it’s hallucinations, and they think God is speaking to them. (I am not denying that God has spoken to people and still does. I am saying that mentally ill people, even those with a relationship with Jesus, can mistake the voices in their head for God, for Satan, for angels, saints, etc.)
        I worked in psych for years. The psych wards frequently had patients who believed they were Jesus, the Virgin Mary, or most often, Mary Magdalene. It’s not my place, or yours, or anyone else’s, to say those confused people are not Christians, not saved, or have no real relationship with Jesus.
        To say mentally ill people don’t need medication, etc., but only need Jesus, is as naive as saying diabetics don’t need insulin, only Jesus. I used to go to church with a young woman who was insulin dependent. She believed Jesus would heal her. Her mistake was in occasionally assuming He already had, and she would stop taking her insulin, wind up in the hospital, almost dying. One woman in the church spoke to her and said, “When God heals you, your body will reject the insulin. Until that time, you keep taking it.” That was wisdom.
        Saved, dedicated Christian people can, and do, suffer from severe depression, often chemical in nature, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and a host of other illnesses, just as such people can and do suffer from cancer, asthma, diabetes, arthritis, etc.
        There is NO difference. We cannot stigmatize mental illness and treat it differently from physical illness just because we cannot SEE the problem on an X-Ray or lab test. It is just as real, and God expects us to use wisdom in dealing with it.

        • I have been severely mentally ill for years now. Dr have given up on me. 3 years straight sitting on the couch staring into space. I need help. Since this article is about mental illness and how we should do something to help, I’m curious how many people will respond and help me

          • Michele, none of us has a cure for mental illness. My heart goes out to you. The most non-medical people can do is try to be there, to be an ear to listen to you, a shoulder to lean on, even cry on, and to try to pick up the slack with things you are unable to do right now.
            I worked with mentally ill people for many years, have friends who are mentally ill, and have myself battled severe depression, thankfully pretty well controlled by medication. I have seen the toll of suffering mental illness takes, not only on those who have the illness, but on their families and friends who often feel helpless, who often get burned out trying to listen and help, and who sometimes are the targets of anger and even violence triggered by the mental illness.
            But I’ve also seen mentally ill people in a sense give up, convinced that nothing will work for them. I have a good friend who right now is severely depressed. I honestly don’t know how he manages to get up and go to work. He doesn’t manage to clean his house, eat properly, handle his finances, do his laundry or even attend to his own hygiene. He sees a psychiatrist, but it doesn’t help because he is unwilling to follow any of the doctor’s recommendations. He refuses to take any medications because the ones he tried in the past didn’t help and had bad side effects.
            I’ve tried to help him understand that finding the right medication or combination of medications is often trial and error. And something might work for a while, and then stop. My own experience bears that out. The very first anti-depressant I was given had such severe side-effects that I lasted only 3 days, and then demanded a change. The second one worked like a charm… and continued to do so for at least 15 years. And then rather suddenly it stopped working. Who knows why? Doesn’t really matter why. I needed to find something else. The one I take now helps. It isn’t as good as the old one was when it was working, but it is good enough, and I can function. And it has even fewer side effects.
            I wish my friend would try again, or see a different psychiatrist, but he won’t. He won’t do anything to help himself. And unfortunately, I am powerless to do it for him. Nobody can force him to try.
            But I will suggest to you what I did to him: Don’t give up on yourself. I have known a good many psychiatrists through the years. Some were wonderful, brilliant, caring people. Some were quacks. And some were mentally ill and untreated. You have to shop around to find a good one. No psychiatrist can cure you… at least not with present medical knowledge. But somewhere, I’m willing to bet there is one who can at least improve your quality of life.
            It’s worth trying to find one, because YOU are worth it.

          • “…Since this article is about mental illness and how we should do something to help, I’m curious how many people will respond and help me…”

            Michele, I don’t know how much help I can be, but I have been ill for twenty years. It’s been somewhat of a roller coaster ride; lots of ups and downs. But I have finally found a doctor who gave me a combination of medications that brought me back to myself again.

            I don’t say that it is easy or that my life is without problems, but I have made a recovery that is nothing short of amazing.

            If you would like to talk, you can find me on Facebook under my full name Scott Amundsen. If there is anything I can do for you I would be more than glad to help 🙂

          • Michele wrote, “I have been severely mentally ill for years now. Dr have given up on me.”

            Please forgive me for not responding to you the same day you wrote this, Michele. I have been quite overwhelmned by the volume of email this blog is generating lately.

            May I suggest that you report all three of those doctors to the AMA? A real doctor doesn’t throw her or his hands up in the air and say “I quit. You’re on your own.” To do so is to invite a malpractice suit.

            I have had Major Depressive Disorder ever since I was nine years old. My parents were in denial about that for six years before I received treatment. When I was twelve, a male family member sexually molested me for two years. So when I talk about depression, I have some credentials.

            You also wrote, “I’m curious how many people will respond and help me.” As distance separates us, I am not sure what anyone of us here on this blog can say to help you. Nor do I have any idea what sort of help would be welcome. Maybe you could tell us more about what you believe you need? I’ll listen.

            My own struggles with depression were so bad that I became disabled. IN a way I welcomed that because I was freed from the single most strongest trigger: the American corporate workplace and the commuter lifestyle. I was free to concentrate on learning to manage my own symptoms.

            There were some things that helped me. One of them was to establish a few simple daily rules for myself which were: 1) bathe daily; 2) get dressed in clean clothes; 3) eat healthful, nourishing food; 4) stay hydrated; 5) walk to the mailbox and get my mail; 6) accomplish one chore or task a day. After that I was off the hook to do whatever I wanted, read, watch TV, email.

            Another idea that occurred to me in the early years of my disability was to revisit those things I had loved to do in the past but gave up because what with communting, working, and life maintenance chores, there was not enough free time for hobbies. I joined knitting groups that met once a month; a writing group that met weekly; another group to explore creativity using the book the The Artist’s Way which also met weekly.

            As much as I wanted to hide in my home and escape into science fiction, I had to balance that. I am an extreme introvert and I want and crave solitude and if I don’t get it, I become physically ill. But a craving for solitude can all too quickly become isolationism.

            I have been a person of faith since I was about two years old. My BA is in Biblical and Theological Studies, my MA in Theological Studies with a heavy emphasis upon Church History. At the time my plan was to get a doctorate and teach in a university or seminary but three years of going to school part time and working part time took their toll and I was too exhausted and I was in debt. It seemed to me unreasonable that I should continue such an exhausting lifestyle for one that would only become more exhausting when I would have to add teaching to that load.

            But once I was disabled, I resumed my studies, on my own and this gave me great pleasure and led to a deepening of my faith.

            As I did all these things, I was in therapy with a real psychologist (anyone can call themselves a counselor or a therapist but not be a psychologist), and met with psychiatrist (I don’t care what they say, primary care doctors do not have the knowledge to administer and evaluate psychiatric medications).

            One of the inspirations for my simple daily rules came from reading The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Despair by Andrew Solomen. He won the Pulitzer for it.

            Some years ago, I stumbled across an outpatient program in a local psychiatric hospital for Dialectic Behavior Therapy, so I went. I was skeptical because DBT has its roots in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and that treatment was a disaster for me as it seemed to keep me locked in the past, dwelling on all the reaons I was depressed. I know some people are really blessed by COG, but I was not one of them.

            That is one of the reasons treating depressed people is such a challenge. We are a diverse group. What works for one doesn’t work for all.

            For me DBT is crucial. It focuses my attention on this one present moment and teaches me the skills to cope with this moment in a manner that improves the moment.

            Here is an overview:

            If you are at all interested, please google DBT and the name of your community to find groups.

            DBT has blessed me so much that I now teach these skills in a local County Mental Health clinic as a volunteer. It’s a peer-led group. I am not qualified to diagnose or do therapy, btu we listen to each other and enourage each other to use the skills.

            • “May I suggest that you report all three of those doctors to the AMA?”

              I would reiterate Sister Gloriamarie’s suggestion. The Hippocratic Oath begins with the phrase, “First, do no harm.” Certainly the failure to do anything at all constitutes harm.

        • Exactly! !!!
          Thank you so much for making that clear….
          I am Bi-polar and an Amazing actress….no one knows what is going on in my Soul….in my Head…the continuous Negative and Suicidal thought’s that don’t stop!!!
          They look at me and say….Get over it…Snap out of your Misery….
          They have no idea at all… if only….
          I have walked the Christian route and tried many a time to go off my meds!!! Disastrous! !!!
          Now….I’m a yoga teacher…and that’s changed my life and outlook…
          I religiously take my meds….and see my psychiatrist…
          Tomorrow a friend and I are starting a Support group for those on our tiny island of Mauritius who are afraid to admit they have a mental dis-ease…
          Pray for us….as we will pray for all those worldwide with similar afflictions…..

      • Jet wrote, “People that struggle with mental problems do not need medication, better health insurance, or distractions …they need Jesus”

        Thank you for proving Sinead’s point, John P’s point, and mine.

        All of your suggestions betray your ignorance of the very complicated subject that is mental illness. Go and get educated and cease your abusive, judgemental pronbouncements which are like a knife into the heart of any person with mental illness.

        Don’t you think if it really were that easy we would have done it by now? I have been in a relationship with Jesus since I was at least two years old, maybe younger, and when I was nine, Major Depressive Disorder was a fact in my life.

        Get thee behind me, Satan.

      • Do you tell people with cancer or heart disease that they don’t need treatment, just Jesus? I am a born again Christian, but I still realize there are times when folks need medication and treatment along with love and acceptance from God’s people.

      • When your mind is telling you that you’d be better off dead, your brain needs medical help to become well. When you’re downhearted and feeling alone, you need human care and companionship. Your love, support, friendship, presence, eyes and ears can help nurse the seriously mentally ill back to mental healthiness. When your spirits are low and you can’t find a reason to go on, you need someone else to carry the hope for you so you can truly lay your burdens down in a safe place. Share your story and listen intently while others share theirs. We are more alike than we are different.

        A mental health crisis can require medical treatment just as a heart attack would. Someone with chest pains may refuse treatment. Someone with mental illness may too. Although mental illness is NOT a crime, when someone presents a danger to themselves or others, law enforcement may intercede to save a life. More and more officers are being trained to de-escalate a crisis. Ask for the Crisis Intervention Team or request an officer trained in handling mental health cases.

      • You are terribly ignorant and horribly, horribly wrong. This world is full of religions, of which Christianity is but one of many. This is about an illness and your trite, simplistic Jesus rhetoric is really quite dangerous to those suffering from mental illness. Please take your prayers to church and leave diagnosis and treatment to Medical Professionals instead of your make believe entity in the sky.

      • “People that struggle with mental problems do not need medication, better health insurance, or distractions …they need Jesus…”


        “The healthy have no need of a physician.” ~ Jesus of Nazareth

      • Jesus? Are you serious? This is getting old…oh wait, it IS old. As someone who struggles with mental illness (and read the bible, a few times), I can tell you we don’t need Jesus. Sure, some people find comfort in giving their life to Jesus. It makes them feel at peace or a better person. And there are a lot of people I know who have “found Jesus” and they are not happier or better people. Religion doesn’t fix mental illness. It doesn’t fix addiction. It can’t make less people gay. And it sure is hell is not for everyone. Mental illness needs people, awareness, love and to be discussed. We need to be seen… THAT is what helps.

      • Jet,

        Your statement that people with mental illness simply ‘need Jesus’ is dangerously misleading, even false. I have suffered from Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, and Depression since childhood. I am now 50.

        I was raised in a household of faith. My faith in Christ and My Father in Heaven is incredibly strong. However, in the throes of an attack, it doesn’t feel as though either of them are ‘always there’, or ‘always loving’. In fact, my faith leads to additional pain because I know that if they want to, they could remove this bitter cup from me. They could lead me from this horrific Gethsemane. But for whatever reason, they’ve chosen to allow me to continue to suffer.

        To be clear, there is comfort in knowing that my suffering isn’t in vain. That’s the gift that Christ offers. But my suffering is no LESS real because of my relationship with Him.

        Would you tell the victim of a heart attack to ignore all medical help and simply seek Jesus? Would you say that to someone suffering from cancer?

        I applaud your testimony of the goodness of Christ, but you do society a huge disfavor when you suggest that mental illness doesn’t require medication. It’s especially offensive to me, a mentally ill woman with faith who battles for her life almost daily.

      • No. We don’t need Jesus. We need people to give a shit. We need our lovers and husbands and family to not give up on us. We don’t WANT to be here, and we do our best, but we just want help in handling it. An imaginary friend in the clouds smakes of schizophrenia, if you ask me.

      • Sure, if we all lived that way… you could extrapolate some scenario in which better insurance for mental illness isn’t necessary, but SINCE WE DON’T, and you obviously know this, your fatuous comment is obscenely insensitive, jackhat!

      • No, Jet. You are wrong. Mental illness cannot be cured by religion. Have you no idea of the long history of health care and insane asylums? Accepting Jesus isn’t going to change a person’s brain chemistry. Sometimes the only thing that can do that is another chemical – medication. Your preaching is only adding to the already overwhelming stigma surrounding mental illness.

      • I believe that ALL people need Jesus…people with illnesses (mental or physical) ALSO NEED treatment. Depending on the illness and the patient, that might include medications, talk therapy, hospitalization, support groups…

        The only illness that Jesus ever promised to heal was our sin.

    • Sinead, please know that you cannot be replaced. Your soul has been traumatized and the good news is that the soul can heal if you allow it. I lost much precious daughter NATALIE to suicide nearly two and a half years ago. She wanted to be a music therapist. I created a non profit organization called Natalie’s Light. Anxiety and depression caused by trauma are medical conditions not unlike diabetes or hypertension. We want to erase the stigma for these and prevent suicide through awareness, educating everyone on the signs of those at risk for suicide, just like signs of someone choking, or having a heart attack, or having a stroke. We need your help to reconcile your trauma with elevation of your consciousness and share with the world the transformation from your past suffering that the soul can heal. We want to protect others from going through the same pain/body experience of trauma that Natalie suffered. Sending much love.

    • I have a son suffering from mental illness. He has lost his wife house and job. He has been hospitalized has had ECT treatments and presently on meds which are not working. His therapist continues to say it takes time. He has suffered on and off since he was 17. His father suffered from depression since 1997. Finally in 2011 I came home from work to discover he had hung himself in my home. I deal with my own depression. I feel like I have been taking care of depressed people my whole life. Maybe someone has some suggestions. So now I am afraid my son will follow in his fathers footsteps. Will need to do more to make the public aware of mental illness and take away the stigma which is related to it. It is a disease. People accept cancer as a disease why not mental illness. They both kill. I feel frustrated and helpless. I love my son and could not bear losing him. I would do anything to get him better. I feel hopeless and helpless.

      • Marsha wrote “I feel frustrated and helpless. I love my son and could not bear losing him. I would do anything to get him better. I feel hopeless and helpless.”


        Of course you love your son and of course you are afraid.

        I wish I could offer something concrete but I am probably far away from you.

        I have had Major Depressive Disorder since I was 9. I am alive due to the grace of God acting through various psychologists and meds. Although the meds aren’t as helpful as the medical community makes out.

        I am concerned about your own self-care. You deserve to take care of yourself. This is probably a suggestion that has already occurred to you, but I recommend a support group for family members of those with mental illness. A place to begin to look for them is NAMI.

        My BFF, wanting to educate herself about the nature of my illness, read a book she passed along to me. It is wonderful. “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Despair” by Andrew Solomon and I highly recommend it.

  2. Thank you for writing this. I have mental illness, including clinical depression. Suicidal ideation is part of my life and has been since I was a child. I am not afraid of death and in some times of my life, have seriously contemplated committing it.
    I am medicated for depression and that helps. But just like diabetes, depression is never going to be cured–it can only be treated and monitored. It takes the same adjusting of the medications, the same “testing” to ascertain the levels of disturbance in the body.
    Mental illness is not a joke. It’s not fun. 1 in 5 adults in this country are diagnosed with a mental illness. That means for every 10 people you know, 2 of them have some mental illness. It’s a common problem that bears an inappropriate stigma which prevents both understanding the problem and accepting it for yourself if diagnosed.
    I hope that Sinead finds comfort and treatment and a way out of her darkness. She deserves it, the same as any other sacred being.

    • Well written…..I am Bi polar 2 and have the genetic make up to prove it….
      I have fought the medication many a time….being a Yogi and into Alternative medicine…but the bottom line is…we need the meds to balance the chemical deficiency in our brains…
      I think of us Bi pops as Special…because we Are….
      We are highly creative and energetic bunnies on our highs….and need all the support and love and understanding from friends and family. .when we hit the low phases….
      Mental illness has been around for centuries. .but is still shunned and yes…swept under the carpet!!!
      I’ve also had breast cancer and Survived. ..and had a lot more flowers and friends around for that Physical recovery rather during my Extreme Lows of Depression.
      We might look fine on the Outside…but inside our Souls are tortured by Continuous Negative and Suicidal thoughts and the Guilt that accompanies it….
      Don’t ignore Us… A Hug goes a long way…
      It might look as if we are Totally wrapped up in our Misery….but we can’t help it.

      I am starting up a Support grp so that we can feel the right Energy from others that have and still do walk the same path…
      We can share doctors and the medications that work for some but maybe not for others….
      We are each of us Unique Souls…
      learning the life lessons we need to in this Lifetime…and most of all …reaching out to others that are on the same twisting turning paths…..
      At least our Lives are not Boring:)
      Hugs and Positive Thoughts to all you Brilliant minds Out There…..
      We Rock!!!!!

    • I hope that YOU find comfort and treatment and a way out of your darkness. You deserves it, the same as any other sacred being.

  3. I am a student counselor, and I very much give a damn. I am a ways out from licensing, but I know mental problems in my own life, mostly due to severe abuse. I tried.killing myself at 14. I am here at 58 after a few years of therapy dealing with depression. I lost a lot of my life when I transitioned. (Yes i am a trans woman) the bigotry and hatred in face daily caused crisis after crisis, simular to what Sinead is showing us. So yes i empathize as i am there also at times. She needs a professional who can teach her coping techniques. I am willing to speak to anyone who is needing to talk. Pain is no excuse to reject a helping hand. Anyone please reach out , life is so precious…

    • As the proud Mom of a courageous trans man who also struggles with bipolar disorder, I’m sending you Love and Hugs, Prayers, Good Thoughts, and Good Energy! May you be blessed and embraced by Light and held in Love!

    • hi and thank u for your post. I also have tried 3 times, once when i was 13…last time was a fluke that i was almost 20 yrs now..but the last year have been ok..kinda but i appreciate ur post. so im writing as kindof a placemark. All the best wishes..debrat peabody start..

  4. What a coincidence that this blog post lands in my email box the same day I got the one below and had just read it. The pain is real and it is more prevalent than people think. And the answers are not going to be easy.

    “None of the solutions are simple. They require changing hearts and minds, and they rely on political action that comes often in the form of increased funding. When we consider that truly addressing income inequality in the US would do much to address addiction and mental illness, the solutions become even more complicated. However, if we acknowledge that outcomes for those suffering from mental health problems and addiction usually vary based on socioeconomic status (and there’s plenty of peer-reviewed proof of this), it becomes clear that the poor are not given the same opportunities for treatment as the middle class or the wealthy.

    In the end, I think we have to ask ourselves a hard question: Do these people matter? Do those who suffer from opioid addiction or bipolar disorder or PTSD or some combination of addiction and other mental illness really matter? If people like my mother do not matter in the grand scheme of American society, then let’s just move on. If they do matter, however, then we have to keep asking hard questions and looking for impossible answers.”

    If the rich and famous cannot cope, even with all that is at their disposal, how can the poor, uneducated and support lacking people in need even stand a chance? The success stories deserve medals because believe me, they earned them!

    • “If the rich and famous cannot cope, even with all that is at their disposal, how can the poor, uneducated and support lacking people in need even stand a chance?”

      I think that the one thing the rich and famous can’t buy, and often lose because of that status is safe community and steadfast connection. They have the means for professional support, but that won’t buy them a friend who checks in weekly or daily because they honestly care.

      While the poor struggle with professional care they may more easily find safe community and connection, if they can find a path to talk about their struggles and ask for help. And really, this last bit, this is the insurmountable mountain of mental health and money and fame or lack there of don’t make that any easier.

      • This is an uninformed comment. This is a dream you have here, lol. I guess you didn’t listen very closely to what she said. If she, with a huge heart and pocket book ends up like this, what about people with less means? People with mental illness don’t skip through the courtyard, requesting friends, because they don’t have any. YOU have to help, YOU do the footwork. People who don’t feel good, isolate themselves.

      • I know plenty of poor who struggle with illness and mental illness and don’t be have a community or friends who check in. People get tired of it. Those who can afford can go to clinics and seek out more help then those who are poor. Your idea that the poor have more of a community is wrong. Maybe this has been your experience but that does not make it universal.

    • That is a phenomenally spot on question. I hope we find a way to help all in need sooner rather than later but I fear in today’s climate that may be a futile wish.

  5. I’ve been living with Bipolar Disorder for seventeen years. The medications I take help ease my symptoms; without them my life would be one harrowing nightmare after another.

    Unfortunately they have side effects; I have gained nearly one hundred pounds on a frame that used to be slender. But it is the price I have had to pay for sanity.

    I don’t think anyone knows what I go through day to day and I don’t know how to explain it.

  6. “I hope we begin treating mental illness like the deadly disease it is. I hope we learn to love mentally ill people well—instead of settling on eulogizing them well.”

    Listening is needed, John, and then doing. You have said it…as a culture, we don’t care. We are not compassionate. Hypocrites rule the day. How do we fight this apathy and get people to truly care for their neighbor?

    People ask, “George, do you really think suicide is preventable?” My response? “Yes, but not while we have people pleading with us to be heard, dropping not bread crumbs, but loaves of bread for us to see and follow, and then look the other way in a conspiracy of denial, let them go, lamenting “I wonder if we missed any signs?” after which cognitive dissonance sets in and we declare, “Well, I/we did all we could.” This happened with my son, right under my nose. I was part of the denial, but seem to be the only one willing to call it what it is. I call the BS card.

  7. I have loved Sinead since I was in my twenties, and I still believe “Nothing Compares 2 Her”… We better hurry and help all the lonely people.
    Where do they all come from?

    • I am sorry, but you can’t call yourself a Christian who truly follows Jesus, and not give a damn about something so serious as mental illness. Jesus loves everybody regardless of their sins, and the last thing people need is more condemnation for something they are battling.

      • I believe that referring to their ‘sins’ counts as condemnation even as you say they are loved ‘regardless of those sins’. Sinead O’Connor, of all people, would tell you to leave your religious beliefs out of it and that what people really need is professional help and medical attention. I hope she gets the help she needs right now.

  8. Thank you, John, you said that really well. This has been going on far too long. First we housed them, then when they decided that it cost too much in taxes, we put them out on the street homeless. We have never done right by those who suffer from mental illness, that is illness not problem. We are way past time. Let us hope that the love that Christians like to talk about will extend to the mentally ill also, not just to the people who look and worship like us. Peace and Love,

    • Not exactly.

      We had high ideals about mental health institutions, though in the days before chemical help for mental health the means were pretty shocking (water therapy, lobotomies, etc). But the thing is, we didn’t live up to those ideals for long. Shortly after we built our mental health institutions, we were locking up ridiculous numbers of people in horrific squalor with terrifying abuse. There are a number of pieces written or taped on the subject.

      That’s why progressives supported deinstitutionalization. The idea was that people were supposed to be moved to smaller programs like group homes and day programs, where they would have more freedom, and people would receive the least restrictive treatment setting possible for their conditions. However, the progressives lost power and the conservatives took advantage of the closing of the institutions to slash mental health funding to almost nothing. They left nothing to pay group homes or day programs. And so the severely mentally ill were thrown out on the street.

      Institutions were truly horrific, at a level that cannot really be put into words. If you want to see what it was like, google ‘Geraldo Rivera Willowbrook State School’ and have a gander. It is a shame that the progressive dream of least-restrictive programs that housed and treated mentally ill people in kind, clean, programs that reflected as much as possible the patient’s wishes has not been realized, and likely never will be.

      • I agree and what I said is we have never done right by them. Never, people used institutions to house people they didn’t want. I know that, I also know that when they let them out they didn’t follow through and these people were put on the streets and thrown to the wolves. I had a cousin with schizophrenia and the family never could get help for him. When they closed the institutions, they closed the halfway houses where he lived and he lived on the streets most of the time because when he would get his subsistence he would be robbed, he was vulnerable. He was an adult so they would tell us nothing we could do he had a right to make the decision to be homeless. My mother would try, but there was always some reason why they couldn’t do anything. So, since I am 75 and this all happened in my lifetime, I think it is fair for me to say, It is a mess, it has always been a mess and until we look at mental illness as that an illness not a choice it will stay a mess. Peace,

  9. We lost our sister to mental illness. There’s a stigma attached to mental illness like no others, the “crazy” stigma that suggests that mental illness is avoidable, or willful, or deliberate, as if someone mentally ill wants attention or to make other’s lives difficult. Another is the fear it will rub off, or that others will categorize you as crazy too just for reaching out to help. But the real problem is that people get frustrated because they expect mentally ill to behave like those who aren’t, to “just get over it”. As if that’s possible. We don’t ask cancer patients to just get over it. We treat it, we raise money for research and new cures, we go out of our way to save their lives. Sadly, the mentally ill suffer alone. And left alone they fall into the abyss of no hope, no reason to live. And then, they’re gone.

    • I lost a friend who was as close as a sister. She was bipolar, but she was also an attorney, witty, vivacious, and adored. We had trouble noticing her run up to mania and it ended in a drug overdose. She was 28.

      At her funeral I remember walking up to her open casket to tuck a note under her pillow and give her a goodbye kiss. She was wearing the same skirt suit she had on when she was called to the bar (not the heels though – she was laid to rest barefoot. Sorry if that’s TMI.) I couldn’t see one thread of gray on her jet black head of hair.

      This was almost 20 years ago, but whenever I come back to my hometown I make sure there are fresh flowers on her grave, because she mattered. The stigma and silence surrounding mental illness is evil. It killed my friend as surely as cancer or a drunk driver would have.

  10. Ok..
    Easy to write about but what specifically would you do?
    Also , cancer can’t be compared to mental illness. Think about the differences between treatments to illustrate my point.

    • We have developed a method for using audible sound in the human biofield for detecting and correcting noise and resistance in the body’s electrical system. This method has proven effective with a wide range of ailments on the physical, emotional and mental levels. It works with the body’s biofield, which is causative and gives rise to imbalance on the physical/experiential level. In the emerging field of Biofield Science is the solution to most imbalances people experience. I could help her out of her dark place in just a few sessions.

    • Why, yes, Steven, in this case cancer CAN be compared to mental illness. They are both diseases found in humans. Jon is making the point – can you argue with it? – that we do not stigmatize and shame people with cancer (and heart disease and polio and broken knees), but we do shame and stigmatize people with mental illness. That’s the only comparison he’s making and it is valid. He is not making any other types of comparisons.

      • I have both cancer and mental illness. When I was first diagnosed as stage 4 (there is no stage 5). I was relieved that I need not have the courage to kill myself any more. I am refusing all cancer meds.. As my cancer is hormone fed I have begun taking HRT to help it along quicker. This way no-one will know that I am killing myself and no-one will need to feel any guilt.
        Ironically, cancer psychologists are so much more supportive than most other counsellors.

    • A callous response, and certainly unnecessary. What can you do? Reach out. If someone shares with you that they struggle with or suffer from a mental illness, don’t abandon them. Don’t make jokes at their expense, don’t blithely refer to things or people as “bi-polar”. Don’t insinuate that their illness makes them less capable or competent, that it compromises their intelligence, that it puts them in a position where they cannot discern right from wrong or that they pose some inherent danger to anyone else. Don’t make light of mental illness in public, or around company when you’re unsure who may be affected by the things you’re joking about. Always offer to reach out, remind those in your life that if they need a shoulder or an ear that you will be there in whatever ways you’re able, and that if they should ever feel so low as to think that suicide is the only and best way to solve their problems, to call you – and to not act, to give you a chance to remind them how loved they are.
      And as for the “differences” – are they really so much so? Perhaps the difference is that radiation and chemotherapy can be scheduled, are only temporarily ongoing before giving the body a break in an attempt to recuperate and rebuild itself before the next onslaught. Beyond that, though, how different are they? In both cases, some people respond better to certain treatments than to others, and it’s next to impossible (or at least quite difficult) to know if any single person will struggle more with one treatment type or medication than another without trying them first and hoping that the good outweighs the bad. Both require extensive treatment, sometimes therapy on top of medications, to help the individual cope with their situation and the damage caused. Both can require numerous medications with serious side effects that can cause enormous problems mentally and physically and can leave the person with long-lasting effects that cannot be undone, or may eventually require more, different meds. And even with the best therapy, doctors, treatment, and medications, sometimes the end result is death – no matter how hard anyone tried.
      So please tell me how this is apples to oranges. Because nobody asks for cancer, just like nobody asks for a mental illness.

    • My nephew has full blown Schizophrenia. He is another person than the one he was. He has been missing for four years. We have no idea if he is alive or not. I’d rather he had cancer, there is a cure. Ty.

    • Clearly, Steven Pino, you are one who believes that mental illness stigmatizes a person because you are also woefully ignorant of key facts about it.

      The term “mental illness” was coined to describe what was then believed to be illness located in the brain, hence “mental.” A more correct term would be “brain disorder” and then one can see that one can compare a brain disorder with cancer because cancer is a disorder of the cells.

      What we call mental illness is every bit as physical an illness as cancer or any other disease which has genetic markers.

      I am aghast at your depth of your lack of compassion for those with mental illness and for those who love us. Your words re an example of the kinds of abuse so many of us have come to expect from so-called Christians.

      Honestly, I am fast coming to the conclusion that anyone who disagrees with what John writes here about mental illness is someone who is in denial of having it.

  11. Her family has been trying to help her for decades while suffering quite a bit of abuse from her. Do you have any words for them John?

    • That’s exactly what I was thinking. Some people with mental illness (and I have been diagnosed with Panic Disorder for most of my life) end up alone in hotel rooms not because people are mean or callous but because they can be abuse, manipulative nightmares to their loved ones. I have relatives and in-laws with addictions, personality disorders, and untreated mania, and at some points I have had to create distance for my own sanity.

      Healthcare policy is another matter…a national embarrassment that you must be rich to get proper treatment. Looking at you, politicians, insurers, AND therapists who don’t accept insurance.

    • As the mother of a son with schizoaffective disorder, I love my son and have tried to help him for 10 years. He has physically assaulted me and his 3 year old daughter (who I am now raising). The laws in this country make it virtually impossible for families to get help for their loved one unless they are able to show that they are a harm to themselves or others and then our only option is commitment (which in the case of my son, he’s mastered the ability to be convincing to authority that there is nothing wrong and is released). The HIPPA laws do not allow family to speak on behalf or be involved with his care and create enormous suffering for us all. Even with the assault, I know this is a paranoid delusion and not my son, I have to keep my distance even though I love him and always will. I continue to try and help from a distance. It’s absolutely agonizing for us all.

      • My daughter is diagnosed the same and with high functioning autism. She is 19 and since she’s turned 18 I know EXACTLY what you mean about how hard it is because of laws and such. I’m hoping to get guardianship but even that has its limits. My daughter as well can be very aggressive and turn my home completely upside down when she is not well. It’s heartbreaking but it’s frustrating as well as we are all only human and limited at times as to what we can do. She too knows how to put the happy face on if she needs to and has been released from hospitals too soon almost every time because of this. As she gets older it seems her illness gets worse ( and she goes to a therapeutic school, is on meds, has name it. It’s been decided that she needs to go to a group home now in hopes to not only help her gain some independence but also improve our relationship with her as she has completely drained the life out of me and her sister. I love her dearly but sometimes no matter what you do you can’t save someone from themselves. I’m trying though…but to say I’m not terrified for her future would be a lie….and the guilt I feel as a burnt out single mom is immeasurable ( I also have depression and anxiety and recently been told PTSD that I manage best I can while trying to meet the needs of my family )…I care….I care about all who feel this way…but sometimes all that can be done ( with the somewhat crappy system and resources that are available) has been done and you do have to try to keep your own sanity as well. I agree with the stigma though…I battle it within myself and I worry about it for my daughter. I wish people understood that mental illness is far more complex than it seems and show more compassion for the people suffering AND the people who love them. I hope she is able to see her value and if people have reached out begin to see she’s worthy of saving 💜

    • Not speaking for John, not speaking for Sinead’s family: speaking as the parent of a child with bipolar disorder. The chaos and suffering caused by mental illness is undeniable and immense. It is relentless, it is unmanageable, and it is unbearable. But it is not intentional. No one chooses to be mentally ill, no one chooses to be at the mercy of a mind altering and sometimes crippling disease that overwhelms and controls, that destroys and deceives. It’s not my intention to minimize anyone’s suffering or pain; in fact our family has suffered greatly and we each have suffered at the hands of this beastly disease. But it’s not his fault, it’s not her fault. The person who is mentally ill suffers more than we can imagine – did you watch the video, see her torment and distortion? It is the illness that is doing the damage, that is the villain, the tyrant.

      Before my son was accurately diagnosed we lived in fear of him for years. He destroyed furniture, punched holes in the walls, attacked his sister (including once going after her with a knife), attacked his father, and even hit me. His screaming and yelling terrified the dogs and drove away friends. Whenever he left the house I had to steel myself, not knowing if I’d ever see him alive again. Every night I went to bed demolished by the poison, the vitriol and violence, every morning I woke up hopeful only to go to bed demolished again. I can’t tell you how many times he broke down sobbing, lamenting the abuse and terror he had inflicted on us, remorseful for and terrified of how out of control and angry he was. We’ve had to call 911 to contain him and protect us from him. Yet we held onto knowing there was a sweet and sensitive young man we occasionally caught glimpses of who was buried far below the quicksand of his illness.

      Today he takes good care of himself and lives on his own. He is a rising star in his field and has a very promising future ahead of him. But that’s all dependent on his compliance with taking the medication that saves his life every day. My son has the great good fortune to have found treatment that gives him a “normal” life, and he has the understanding of how essential it is – do you have any idea how rare that is?

      We need to start understanding that mental illness is on a continuum just as physical health is. We need to stop blaming people for their illness and have compassion for their suffering. We need to develop better treatments and make them easily accessible and affordable, and we need to educate people about their illness – how it will lie to them and tell them they don’t need to take their medications anymore or that it’s not worth the side effects (which can be brutal). It is very possible and even likely that Sinead burned her bridges over and over again, but we can’t give up on her or anyone who suffers mental illness. Condemnation and contempt benefit no one and remedy nothing. Let’s open our minds and our hearts, just as we would want someone to do for us. It’s the only way out for all of us.

      • I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder years ago and only did something about recently. I was out of control for many years. Fueled by alcohol and drugs, I was unaware of the consequences of my actions. I was selfish and I hurt a lot of people. I joined a Twelve Step program and did something about my disease. By letting god guide me through each day and taking steps to ensure my sobriety, I have been balanced and sober for several years. The right combination of medication and visits to a psychiatrist have made all the difference. I am married now and enjoy a wonderful life. My only regret I didn’t act sooner.

        • John, congratulations on your sobriety and on getting help for your bipolar disorder. So many people self-medicate with alcohol, weed, and other substances – I hope you know that you’re not alone there, no need to judge yourself. You had to be ready. When my son began to self-medicate because his psychiatrist misdiagnosed him and put him on medications that exacerbated his condition, that drove me to the rooms. Fortunately my son’s experiment was short-lived, and gratefully I’ve stayed with my program. Having a support group, learning to take responsibility for my own behavior and not try to control or cure my son, learning to navigate my own serenity amidst the heartbreak and bombardment of my son’s troubles – I don’t know how I would have survived without my Twelve Step family. I really want anyone reading this to know that there is help and support out there; there’s no need to go it alone.

    • I have words for them. I do not know their specific journey, but would they have given up on her if she had dementia or a severe brain injury that caused the same behavior?

      The thing with caring is that the mentally ill person will love you one day and cuss you the next. A time out and some distance may be needed and certainly intense treatment at such times, but abandonment (especially not letting her see her child) is cruel and only adds to her mental anguish. Few mentally ill people have no “good spells” or times when they are able to care and be cared for, even if it does not last. These should be celebrated, rewarded and encouraged. You cannot do that when you just abandon them.

    • Yes, oftentimes with mental illness that has a paranoid component (as does Sinead’s), the people who are closest to the ill person are desperately reaching out to help but the ill person believes that they have sinister intentions and cannot be trusted. This is a huge problem, which I don’t think this article addresses at all.

    • I do.

      She’s dying, and you are worrying that she has been hard to handle. If she dies, will it be easier on you? Are you making your decisions based on that?

  12. Mr. Pavlovitz – I’m stationed in Tokyo, Japan, and from time to time I read your blog due to its connection with Facebook, but I admit that I’ve never taken the time to ever respond. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, but I have observed how people respond whenever someone writes something that they don’t agree with, and it is usually not very pretty. My country have appeared to have lost how to agree to disagree as we like to say. Here in Japan, the people can be snippy as well, but the Asian culture teach their people a lot about respect and showing respect to your neighbor, so even the young kids know a lot about that. I hope what I want to say doesn’t offend you, but I’m betting that it will given the nature of the discussion. When it comes to mental illness in society, I agree that we often turn our heads and never think twice about what others experience in their lives. There is a segment of our own society in America that we fail to help with their mental illness issues, and that segment is by and large the gay community. Many top notch scholars are on record that homosexuality is a mental illness issue, and I must agree with that finding. Not only just homosexuals but people with issues of their gender as well. Talk to any transgender person, and it will become very clear that there is something terribly wrong. Our Creator did not make a mistake when He created mankind. My heart breaks to read about how parents will encourage and in some cases, will even push their children into homosexuality or transgenderism as early as 2 years of age. How sad that is. No child remotely has anything sexual on their mind when they’re 2 years of age, and everyone knows it. Still, we go right along with encouraging and pushing people in that direction. I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but the country that do the “best” surgery for what is called “sexual reassignment surgery” is the country of Thailand. They do more of that kind of surgery than any place on the earth, and if you ask many for their opinions about it, they will tell you that the Thai doctors are the most skilled of any that do those surgeries. There is a “however” that I must speak to. What many people don’t know or hear about very often are the persons that have regrets for having gone through with the surgery. They learn that being born a male or female wasn’t the problem at all. I actually met a man that had the surgery to become a woman, and he then had the surgery reversed, but of course they could not restore or repair his penis that they cut off and used the cavity to make a vagina, so they pretty much butchered him and did a makeshift penis that, by his own words, “is nothing like what a penis should look like”. Can I tell you that my heart ached for that man for months, and I would see him occasionally at a store that many of the Military people frequent here in Tokyo. My issue is with our political correctness to make people feel better about themselves instead of doing the right thing by them. Transgenderism is without a doubt a mental health matter that should be given much gentle care and attention. It is not normal for a man with thick hairy legs to walk into a store at the Shopping Center with a tight skirt on, pumps, makeup, including bright read lipstick, a scarf, and a woman’s hat. That is not normal Mr. Pavlovitz, and I believe that everyone knows it, but what I can’t figure out is why have we sunk into such a abnormal attitude about these issues? I truly believe that the American Psychiatric Association had it correct during the early years of their research because they submitted to politics. The newer organization, NARTH, has many top researchers in the field, and I have read much of their materials and have been strengthened in my belief that homosexuality and transgenderism should both be put back on the mental health list, and at least we can properly address many of the issues of brokenness in the people who suffer from these pathologies. I saw a show called “I AM SAM”, and it is about a teenage boy trying to become a girl. He began taking medication that stopped the normal male growth and development in order that he might start the process of becoming female. He has gone to at least three medical Doctors, including a transgender doctor, and all of them said that they would not be able to do the surgery to give him a vagina because of the lack of development in his penile canal, so they are trying to figure out how to conduct such a surgery. I don’t accept for one moment that that is what God intended. I’m not sure why he feels like a female, but I know that based on his parents words as well as the young man’s, he was born a healthy and bouncing baby boy. The parents, particularly the Mother, encouraged their son to start playing the role of a female, and from the appearances on TV, it is clearly a major mistake that may possibly cause great harm to that young man. May God give clarity and bring healing to all souls that are confused and misguided in this way, and may they find deep healing in body, soul, mind, and spirit.

    Thank you, Sir!

    • Much of the mental illness suffered by gay people is caused by other people who make them sick through constant statements and profession about their unworthiness, unhealthiness and sinfulness. The further I get away from ignorant people like you the better I feel.

      Why is that?

      Maybe that is what Jesus meant when he called the Pharisees vipers and snakes. You would rather poison people than care for them.

      • Being gay is not a mental illness. Mental illness does not cause homosexuality. Period. Seriously, folks, this is the 21st century. Mental illness cannot (I repeat) cannot be caused because of someone else’s ignorance. If you’re genetically predisposed to it, then trauma can trigger the genes that are already in place. But people do not simply become Bipolar because they’re gay and people mistreat them. You can’t blame any other illness on being gay, nor can you state that any other illness leads to being gay. It’s a medical illness …. a biological illness.

    • I’m afraid you are confused, Lillian Richie. There are NO legitimate mental health professionals who think homosexuality is a mental illness. That idea was thrown out decades ago. It was only listed as a mental illness, incorrectly, for about 20 years, based on seriously flawed information from studies dating back to the 19th century.
      In order to be classified as a mental illness, something has to meet very specific criteria. Homosexuality meets NONE of those criteria… not a single one. Hence it CANNOT be viewed as mental illness, and in fact, cannot be scientifically viewed as anything other than a normal variant of sexuality.
      As for transgender individuals, you said to talk to any… I have known MANY. They have a mismatch between their gender identity and their physical sex at birth… and that is all. Any other problems they have stem from what they have had to endure from ignorant people because of that mismatch.
      Most surgeries for transgender people take place in Thailand because it costs about a third as much as in other countries. But there are approximately 25,000 surgeries each year worldwide. One California surgeon alone indicates she does between 900 and 1000 each year. And the vast majority of people who have the surgery find it dramatically improves their quality of life. This has been the case for all the trans women I have known.
      NARTH is not a legitimate organization in the field. They are not motivated by scientific truth, but by religious and ideological bigotry. They are incapable of being objective. The APA, contrary to what homophobic organizations will claim, did not yield to political pressure. When the APA reversed its 20 year position on homosexuality, the modern gay rights movement was still in its infancy. It had no political clout of any kind, and few supporters.
      APA encountered a small number of gay demonstrators at one of their yearly meetings. They were deeply impressed, because it was the first time they had met gay people who were not patients seeking help for mental illness. They were so impressed that they invited these people to attend the meeting the following year. They learned that the vast majority of gay people have no symptoms of mental illness, and that homosexuality itself meets none of the criteria of an illness. And that is the ONLY reason it was removed from the list of illnesses. And had they not believed seriously flawed studies from earlier decades and the previous century, it never would have been classified as an illness in the first place. Those studies were so flawed, so ridiculous, that not even the most ardent hater of gay people would believe some of their “findings.”

    • Lillian, I’m not sure how we strayed from Sienaid’s call for help to homosexuality and transgender issues. The only conclusion I can make is that you’ve chosen to connect the two so that you can stand on your soap box and preach. I’ll respect that you have your view, but what you say is so simplistic, so missing the mark of reality. So judgemental and cruel. We just don’t understand the human body, the way that it develops and the complexity of all the systems interconnected in what makes us up. The study of the brain is still in its infancy and how it interacts with our bodies is still much of a mystery. We are not all knowing. I know both homosexuals and transsexual individuals and although they may struggle like all the rest of us with issues in their lives, their quest to accept and understand what makes them different is not mental illness. They often must suffer great loss, from family members like you who don’t understand, and that’s in addition to the struggle within themselves. Maybe an inability to see that we should love all people equally without judgement is a mental illness. I’m sad for you’re lack of compassion.

    • It is both sad and disgraceful that you have hijacked this thread and article on mental illness to push your own form of bias and ignorance. You are sadly misinformed on so many topics you mention. Perhaps it would be best, if you can’t show respect for the author and other folks here by staying on topic, not to post at all.

    • There are NO top notch scholars on record who state that being gay is a mental illness. the only folks who promote such claptrap are quacks in their field.

      NO parents are pushing their children into homosexuality or into being transgender at any age, let alone 2.

      Isolated, one off stories of a person’s bad experience does not offer evidence of anything about being gay or transgender.

      God doesn’t make any mistakes, but occasionally nature does.

      It’s a shame that the first time you come out of the shadows to speak it is to promote such utter BS. Thank you for your military service, but please drop the armchair, paperback psychology! You are just promoting pain and misery for the lives of others with your unfounded views.

      David Allen, AA, BA in Behavior Science, MTh
      Gay man.

    • Lillian. Konichiwa.

      ….thank you for your thoughtful input. I’m in a similar thought process as you are. I think if we are honest, being LGBT, is still a dilemma for many. [I think the radical social engineering that our culture is embracing is unproven.]

      Secular society is free to wander wherever their hearts & feelings desire. .. but Believers have already chosen the narrow, difficult, painful path. [Say ‘No’ to Self. ] We all have challenges in this life. As we apply our obedience & our faith to those struggles, we are in good company.

      God sees his Children, and there can be reasonable happiness in this life, and supreme joy in the next.

      • Thank you Ms. Leslie M. I agree that maintaining our faith in God and striving to be obedient to Him is key. Hope you’re having a great evening.


      • Believers have already chosen the narrow, difficult, painful path.
        – Leslie Marshall

        Come, you who are heavy laden and I shall give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
        – Jesus Christ

    • “Many top notch scholars are on record that homosexuality is a mental illness issue, and I must agree with that finding. ”

      The overwhelming consensus of the mental health professions is that homosexuality and transgender identity are NOT mental illnesses. You are cherry-picking those who confirm your own preconceptions.

      “NARTH” is an ideologically biased pressure group, not a credible scientific forum, any more than the Flat Earth Society (which counts “scientists” among its members) is a reliable source on matters of planetary science.

      As for trans people regretting their choice to transition: you are citing specific individuals (I will take your word that they are real people), with no evidence that they are a representative sample. Have you spent any time getting to know a happily adjusted trans person? Perhaps you should try that before you draw your conclusions.

      It is furthermore absurd to suggest that parents can pressure or encourage their children to become gay or transgender. If that kind of influence worked, there would be no gay or trans people. Until very recently, all parents encouraged their children to be straight and to conform to expected gender norms — and the vast majority still do. That has never prevented people from turning out gay or trans if that is who they are — it has only caused them to hate themselves.

      Your obsession with stereotypes like “a man with thick hairy legs… with a tight skirt on, pumps, makeup, including bright read lipstick, a scarf, and a woman’s hat” reveals that this is a matter of your own personal discomfort and not out of concern with mental health. As, frankly, does the fact that you feel compelled to bring up this preoccupation of yours in the context of an article asking for compassion for a woman crying out for help for actual mental illness.

      Before you try to tell other people what is “normal” in their lives, take a close look at your own reasons for being so concerned about the topic.

    • Thank you for your comment, but on some points I must disagree. We can agree that gender changing surgery is a radical solution but I think the demand is there because society won’t let those that identify as the opposite sex to live in those roles fully without HRT or surgery. I feel that the root of the problem is our societies giving arbitrary and semi-rigid roles to people based on their genitals rather than who they truly are.

      As for the argument that homosexuality is a mental illness is not backed up with evidence. It is not just American psychiatrists that changed their classification from pathology to variation, the change was world-wide by 1990 by WHO, even in countries that imprison and execute homosexuals. Recent research seems to suggest that it is epigenetic, a trait in the DNA that is not activated unless certain conditions happen, and the trait activation can be carried down as well. Such traits are usually not expressed until puberty, like many traits of sexual maturation so that “healthy baby boy” can be transgender. Transgenderism may become present early in life or during puberty.

      I believe we LGBTQ people tend to have more mental illness but we can’t separate this from the discrimination we get. Open and universal acceptance of LGBTQ has never been a thing so it is to reason that we experience discrimination, sometimes violent, in many forms which can cause mental problems of its own.

      As for mental illness, when a society treats mental illness differently than physical illness, people don’t get adequate treatment. Also Psychiatry is a far younger art than traditional medicine and not enough is know to handle even mild mental illness reliably. It is mostly hit-and-miss.

      I have learned something more regarding this subject after I have read your comment by researching the subject. Thank you for your input.

    • Clearly you know enough to know that your sick, twisted and false post would not be respected or agreed with, but you did it anyway. I cannot find anything but revulsion and repudiation for you and I am deeply ashamed that you dragged God into that sick mess you called your thinking. It is blasphemy IMO to pretend the love of God exists in you. May God have mercy, I have none to offer you.

  13. Thank you, John, for speaking out for those who often cannot find the words to speak out for themselves.
    I worked in the mental health field for years, doing direct care in psychiatric facilities. Does everyone working in such places care about the patients? No. But many of us genuinely did. I have fond memories of my patients from those days. I have poems they wrote and art work they did. And I carried in my wallet a news clipping of one of my patients who finally took her own life after a year of hospitalization. I carried it until it disintegrated, but I still remember her, her piano playing, and how much it hurt when we lost her.

  14. not really
    the only thing that really matter s is if she has given her life to Jesus Christ
    Asked for forgiveness
    Decided to trust Jesus Christ to save her soul before she dies.
    God is always waiting for the return of the lost.
    Those final hours before she meets her maker and has to give an account for her life, sin, rejection of jesus christ as savior for sin.
    what else is thier , every thing else is past

    • Everything else is past? Speak for yourself you disintegrating old man. Jesus had a tremendous amount to say about how people live their lives here and now—and how they treat each other before they die—and Jesus was not just belching hot air when He said those things.

      However, I know well the mantra that you fundie guys and gals took on back in the early to mid 20th century to justify forgetting half the Bible and to justify your “evangelism only” stance:

      Life here on Earth is short, a mere 70 years, and these are the end times. Let us then forget about all human suffering in the here and now because time is so short. Hell is for all eternity. Therefore, instead of helping others in need and treating people right in the here and now, let us focus instead on saving souls and saving souls alone.”

      That is a man-made Rot Doctern. Nowhere will you find this piece of garbage in quotes above in your Bible. You are supposed to save souls AND meet the needs of “the least of these” with kindness and love.

      James, John, and Jesus have some harsh scripture for brittle old English fools like you:

      But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won’t help him—how can God’s love be within him? Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions. Then we will know for sure, by our actions, that we are on God’s side, and our consciences will be clear, even when we stand before the Lord. (1 John 3:17-19)

      Dear brothers, what’s the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren’t proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone? If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, and you say to him, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty,” and then don’t give him clothes or food, what good does that do? So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all—it is dead and useless. But someone may well argue, “You say the way to God is by faith alone, plus nothing; well, I say that good works are important too, for without good works you can’t prove whether you have faith or not; but anyone can see that I have faith by the way I act.” Are there still some among you who hold that “only believing” is enough? Believing in one God? Well, remember that the demons believe this too—so strongly that they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that “believing” is useless without doing what God wants you to? Faith that does not result in good deeds is not real faith. (James 2:14-20)

      The axe of his judgment is poised over you, ready to sever your roots and cut you down. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.” The crowd replied, “What do you want us to do?” “If you have two coats,” he replied, “give one to the poor. If you have extra food, give it away to those who are hungry.” (Luke 3:9-11)

    • With that reasoning, one could argue that we shouldn’t give a damn about anyone, for any reason. Jesus calls us to care for and love people regardless of whether or not they have faith in Him. This is the exact opposite of what you wrote.

      That is why we are supposed to take care of the sick and poor. I’m glad that the majority of Christians don’t agree with you.

  15. My heart aches for Sinead. What IS the answer? If we are all to “love our neighbor”, are we all responsible to reach out, help her find help, maybe bring her into our homes? What SHOULD we be doing?
    I would like to point out that it is, or can be very much like this for those with a chronic illness as well. Also, eventually, as your body is stricken, so is your mind. Especially if you have friends who no longer call, or come to visit. OR, as in my case, a lovely family living a mere mile away, with no TIME! I KNOW they don’t hate me, but when I am so weak I must ask for help, they are unable to provide it. I submit that it is the times in which we live. Everyone is in perpetual overdrive. There are sports and meetings, and other friends, and meals and other’s expectations to attend to which leaves little time for the one ill and alone. There is work, work, work, which I understand, but being last place nearly all the time will make you doubt your self-worth. I am not “healthy” mentally, although I have not been diagnosed with anything clinically. I KNOW I am depressed, but will not broadcast a plea. It would hurt the ones I love the most, and I MUST believe that if they could do more, they would. Life is hard. It is harder if you are chronically ill.
    God knows I hurt, and that I cry and feel abandoned, but I know He will never forsake me. So, even though I may long for a Godly spirit wrapped in skin to hug me or visit me, I will not “expect” that. It is contrary to the spirit at work on our world right now. The days are evil, and we all are trying, I think, to make the best use of our time.

    • I know that you are trying to be understanding of your family, but being out of time is a failure to recognize priorities. Speaking from experience, they will grieve when something happens to you and they weren’t there for you. Unfortunately this is how we are failing in our culture now. It is small comfort to know people will regret their actions later. Apparently no one learns from anyone else’s experience.

      • Karyn,
        Thank you for your response. I hear and appreciate what you say, as I’ve thought the same myself. It is NO comfort to think that they will regret their actions later on….I don’t want them to suffer recrimination from within or without. My family loves Jesus, and are often involved with church activities that I myself might have attended when I was well. These are perilous times, in many ways, and they are beyond busy for most people. That doesn’t ease my solitude, but I do know that many must be in the same boat I am. Longing for even a phone call. At any rate, I mostly just wanted to thank you for your response. May God bless you and yours.

  16. We have a son with mental illness. With all the love and support we give him, life is still hard for him. I can only imagine how it is for those who suffer alone.

  17. “I hope we learn to love mentally ill people well—instead of settling on eulogizing them well.”

    Damn right. It concerns me how willingly the blinders go up on most of us regarding mental issues and those who suffer from them. We’re confining ourselves and don’t want to deal with it–is it fear that we could become the same way? I dunno, but it stinks to high Heaven.

  18. I was/am a huge fan of Sinead’s since her music burst on the scene in my youth. I watched and posted her video a couple of days ago. It is so raw and heartbreakingly honest and brave. So brave.

    My teen grandson is living with his grandfather and me. He has bipolar disorder. I have two brothers who also suffer with the disease. His mom does a great job at getting him proper treatment. The thing is is that it has taken until he was 17 to properly diagnose him. He had the ADHD label his whole childhood. Treatment for it did little. He is much better on his bipolar meds.

    I will admit to a familiarity in Sineads description of her family giving up. We do not know their side of things. I can only speak of my own experiences. I had to choose not to have a relationship with one of my brothers. He is grandiose and therefore chooses not to be treated for his illness. His cruelty is soul crushing. I tried many times through the decades. Sadly, I have to save myself or drown with him.

    The biggest problem for those who wish to standby the mentally ill is that the ill often choose not to continue treatment and then are impossible to care for because they will not let you in. They are delusional and for a time are on a manic high before the crushing depression hits. Both are terribly frightening. On either spectrum they are at high risk of dying. It is harrowing for those who love them.

    I wish I had a positive attitude but it is harder than anyone could imagine unless they’ve been through this with a loved one.

    I am cautiously optimistic about my grandson. We live in a metropolitan area where he can get the best care. He has been stable for a few months now -‘with the occasional disruption.

    The connection between mental illness and addiction is very real. I’ve observed it with many family members. Without diagnosis they are trying to find relief through self-medicating, which includes alcohol.

    I believe a good place to start is teaching all professionals who deal with addiction to take whatever steps necessary to get a proper diagnosis. The addiction industry has failed miserably. Though I notice psychiatrists are beginning to be a part of treatment centers.

    Thank you John. I follow you religiously (pun fully intended). Lol. I may even consider recovering my lost Christianity with a minister like you. 🙂

  19. John – I thought your headline of Do we give a damn? was in bad taste. It assumes we don’t and that not only sounds bad its not true for me or most people I know.
    I like the story very much. And we all must learn to connect better with each other. Loneliness and depression are super serious and they are killing us. Write on, sir. Thanks.

  20. I don’t have any answers. Everyone with mental illness is different. I have dealt with it my whole life. It’s exhausting. Being there for someone with chronic mental illness is exhausting. I tried to end my life 3 times. The next time I’ll be successful. I’ve taken meds my whole life. Sometimes they work for a while, then they stop working and you try something else and have to go through that process again. It’s exhausting. I ask myself “what’s the point?” frequently. I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to go round and round like this all my life. I’m not being a productive human being. I just want to put my affairs in order, pick a date, let people know so we can say goodbye if they want to, and I will go with dignity and the respect of others who understand that this is no life to live. Imposing your values on someone who really wants to go is torture. We’re all going to die. It’s like a terminal illness. Why prolong someone’s agony just because you believe it’s not ok. It’s not your life.

    • Linda, I am not going to argue your point because I happen to agree with you. Our society will allow a female to terminate a pregnancy, we will kill innocents in any war situation, we accept the carnage of addiction, violence and abuse as if there is nothing to be done. Yet me make both the mentally ill and the physically ill live in abject cruel torture. It makes no rational sense that we push for you or anyone else to live because we want you to, or because we claim to value life.

      I hope you do not take your own life, for that is the cruelest cut of all. That in the end you might be reduced to having to go it alone because of what we say is best seems cruel. If you know that living any longer is not the best thing or even the bearable thing for you, I think we should, as a society, allow you and anyone else who can prove their competence and rational cognition to leave us with love and support, not in the shadows and alone.

      Suffering is real, it is also really, really hard. Whether that is mental or physical or both, we need a better way to help those who seek it and to let go of those who seek that end. I have been in the place that I just want the pain to end. I realized I cannot do that to those who love me, but if someone is determined to die, they should not be reduced to doing it to themselves, alone. That is no way for anyone to die.

      I wish you peace and I will throw no guilt on you, whatever you decide as long as you promise to be rational, lucid and certain. It is as they say, ‘a permanent solution’ and you need to be sure there is nothing worth fighting for one more day alive before you take that step.

  21. Sinead and people in her predicament (as in suffering from a mental health disorder) need family and friends around them, even more-so when in the depths of a breakdown! Yet the ‘normal’ people/family that the person suffering the deep depression needs, seem to be absent when most needed, having taken umbrage at the words and anger spouted by the person in the middle of the breakdown. People should take note that these words and rants are not directed at the third parties by the person having the breakdown/rant, but the anger is rather directed at the person in the middle of the breakdown, and a bit like a person suffering from Tourette’s the words need to be either accepted or ignored. A hug is what they need, not to be shunned and isolated, as the thoughts that they endure are magnified when they are all alone, and they can’t cope.

    • Sometimes no matter how hard you try for those you love it isn’t enough. We stood by our son and in the end the depression won out.

  22. “We ghost them.”
    Yes, and their families too.
    When my son became severely mentally ill, every friend I ever had, all in the church, disappeared. I cried out for help and no one came.
    You’re right, no one does this for any other illness.

    • Carole, I am not defending what happened to you but many people are already spread thin and many people just have no idea what they can do, if they would offend, if they would be overstepping or getting in over their head, so sadly, they do “ghost you.” I wish you peace.

      • Wrong answer. You are defending them. People don’t disappear for cancer or other physical diseases. They show up and support. They’re gone when it’s mental illness.

        • Sorry Carole, but people disappear for cancer and many other debilitating physical conditions too. It happens. Many even start with the best of intentions to stay, care, be supportive, but sustaining that is never easy and everyone cannot do it. I am not defending that, I am merely acknowledging that it happens.

          When it is mental illness, the acrimony and viciousness displayed over and over can be very hard on them and justify their leaving as “self-preservation.” Mental illness is very hard to deal with for all involved. I do wish you peace, but I am not going to be dishonest to do so.

          • Why are you intent on disregarding my post? I am merely speaking to my experience. I have lost a brother to cancer. It was horrible. But, people called, delivered casseroles, put us on prayer lists. When my son became mentally ill, people ran. Mental illness has a stigma that is real. I really don’t appreciate your know-it-all attitude that disregards my experience.

    • Wow Karen, that is a lot of loss. I am so sorry. We never know what anyone else has had to endure on their journey. Both what was inflicted on them and what they inflicted on themselves. We should just learn to be compassionate and show the love of God to all.

  23. I have never really liked her work. So what? is she any less worthy of love than Terry Scott Taylor, Reese Roper, Rivers Cuomo, or anyone else whose work I DO like?

    We are terrible at dealing with mental illnesses. You need look no further than the difficulty involved in getting treatment for it, If you DID look, though, you can find people expressing their lack of compassion or dragging in their own prejudices, dressed up easily discredited talk of “mental illness” as proof.

    John is absolutely spot on here, and he didn’t even extend the conversation to all those people whose sickness drives them to cause harm to others on their way out. I don’t think you can be a follower of the guy who physically touched and healed so many people who were literally tormented by demons without understanding the need to try to be similarly compassionate. These people can be annoying as hell, and some can be outright dangerous, but Jesus didn’t come for just the “safe” people.

  24. I really do not know about all the “we” people you speak of. Everyone I know has been touched in some way by those who suffer from a mental illness through family, work, friends, and life. I do not know why so many have to suffer so much. I pray for those who bear such crosses. It is an abomination that so many slip through the cracks and receive no support.

  25. I think this is a beautiful piece, John, and I agree with you. But to start at a very basic level, what are the steps after listening? I think even those of us who want to listen, to be there, to help, are often unsure what to do. I speak as a person who’s had episodes of clinical depression and anxiety where I didn’t know how to ‘be’ helped. Cannot imagine the added complication when trying to be there for someone who suffers disorders that utterly distort reality. What do you suggest?

  26. Above the long (and very misplaced/misguided rant on transgenderism) there is a post by “tkayesh” asking about Sinead’s family members. We don’t have word one of their side of this story… for all we know they have tried desperately to help – or perhaps not. I have no way of knowing their history or what is in their hearts.
    But I will say this: We as family members also need support. My youngest daughter is diagnosed with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. She has come a very long way since the dramatic onset of these illnesses at the very young age of 13. I can tell you that there have been times when I didn’t know where to turn for true help (as opposed to just well-meaning but often totally contradictory advice). My daughter’s behaviors sometimes made it so unbelievably difficult to adequately take care of her. I am devoted to her unconditionally, and my love for her is deep, dear and eternal. I am grateful every single day for her presence in my life, and I continue to basically live my life around her illnesses and their symptoms – and I may always need to do this for her. But had she ever heaven-forbid in her worst days, now six years ago, chosen to take her own life – there is just no way for that to have been because I did not care enough or do enough for her. I had to remind myself of that daily during the darkest of her days. Had she been determined, she would have found a way, even with so much supervision. I had to sleep and eat sometimes, too, and there wasn’t always someone else available to care for her in the middle of the night. As we see here, it is not a crisis of a few days or weeks; recovery is a lifetime commitment. Even for the most steadfast in their love for the one who suffers, there comes a breaking point. We have to pull together; it cannot all rest on one or two close relatives. It is tragic when someone commits suicide, we all agree on that. But it cannot always be prevented, however hard we try as loved ones. Much grace and real, tangible assistance needs to be given to the families. We also suffer in isolation. Someone above suggested NAMI, and I wholeheartedly support this organization. It has helped saved me in saving my child. Blessings to all: Sinead, all her family, and to everyone like them.

  27. Dear John Pavlovitz and Reader:

    No. We don’t give a flying rat’s ass.

    ‘You’ve got to take care of us.’

    We do? Why? Prove it! Above all, tell us how much money you have! We support affordable health care in the sense of health care for those who can afford it. No money? We owe you nothing!

    With bipartisan support, we pour a trillion dollars into our military every year. We butcher budgets for health care and services for those with illnesses of the mind and body. And so long as we support these infernal wars, I am forced to conclude that we don’t give a rip for the Sinead O’Connors of this world.

    Speaking of our glorious military, Dina al-Assad [deputy head of the Syrian Red Crescent] just charged Washington with war crimes in the siege of Raqqa.

    It seems our US war planes heroically targeted a hospital in a civilian-populated area with illegal phosphorous-based munitions.

    US police are on track in 2017 for murdering a record number of US citizens. Many of these will be poor/mentally ill persons.

    Why would Sinead O’Connor matter?

    Capitalism quantifies life and existence with a numeric dollar value. It’s time we all grow up and faced that this utterly horrid philosophic system must be rejected, drowned and put six feet underground.


    • Exactly. Our mental health problems come from the fact we’re ruled by psychopaths…the level of collaboration is just too much.

  28. Truthful and relevant, but I have one comment concerning the comparison to cancer. I have struggled with both chronic depression, and cancer. Most cancer patients are helped and encouraged, initially… but people have little sympathy or compassion for reoccurrences (which are common) and all the health struggles that come as a result of toxic cancer treatments. They sort of cut you loose, after the initial “battle” is over. If you continue to struggle, you just aren’t “grateful that you are alive.” It becomes your fault. With mental illness true, it’s is always seen as your fault. It’s an invisible illness, and as long as you look fine, people don’t understand. The same is true of cancer, once the scars heal, and the hair grows back, you are supposed to be fine.

  29. I feel sad and angry that there is No One close to her in her hour of need …i know because everyone is so disconnected nowadays , it’s horrible wish some one reached out to her

  30. Mental illnes like depression , bipolar disorder, anxiety and others is nit a sin. Suicide as a result of mental disorder is not sin. No one with healthy mind wakes up one day and decides this is good day to die. Calling it sin its very ignorant , thoughtless.
    In this time and age we already know it is disease like any other phisical illnes.
    The brain although is the less known organ. So, we may suspect reasons, causes of mental illness but still dont know nothing for sure. Also there are no medical tests, like blood tests, x- reys etc.wich can help to diagnose and treat mental illness. Altough, we have many tools to treat it like many different medications, different forms of therapy, there is no cure. The treatments help with symptoms, help to be able to function but dont cure mental illness.
    It may happen to anyone, anytime in their lifetime, same as diabetes, heart disease , cancer….
    Depression is like cancer to mind and soul. Affects all aspects of persons life. Also affects body giving very unpleasent , often painfull, very hard to deal with symptoms.
    Whoever never went through it , most likely will never understand. Its difficult even for sick ppl to understand the illness and control it.
    Lets put the stop to stigma. People need to realize its the same type of illness like any other.
    No one will say to the person with broken leg to take the cast off and keep walking , pull himself togheter, get over it, move on. No one expects from person with broken leg to run, function and live exactly as before.
    I was very healthy on body and mind my whole life. I was strong, brave, smart. My mind was clear, sharp and bright. It was very easy for me to learn anything. I was aleays busy with school, work doing my best . I was responsible, punctual, well organized. Obstacles , problems used to be only challenge. Almost nothing was impossible.
    Until one day… Major depression and acute anxiety crushed me completely. It changed me, it changed my life. It was hell on earth. I was fighting for every breath, fighting to stay alive. It did almost killed me. When finally after weeks of suffering alone at home I ended up in hospital, My body was acting as I was in last stage of terminal illness. There was no pchisical illness. I was about to and ready to die , both mentally and phisically.
    Did I wanted to die? No. I just wanted this horrible pain to stop.
    Four years later, thanks to intensive treatment, I am still here.
    Am I the same as I used to be,? No.
    Every day its struggle , its a fight, its a war to get up, to keep going, to just keep my head above the water , to function at least at minimum level, to survive. Its real fight to try to stay on the bright side of life and dont fell again into the black hole. Its so scary to even think about this dark place where I used to be. Its frightrnning to evrn think thst one day I may go back there again.
    The demons are still here. The triggers are still here. Im trying so hard not wake them up.
    I dont want to die. Thoughts of suicide so strong before, now still crossing my mind now and then. I fight it back. Im strong enough now to fight it back.
    I became numb. I was trying so hard to
    Stop all the negative thoughts, emotions …that I became numb. I guess, its better to dont feel nothing then feeling hopless, helpless, despair. But when you are numb, you are missing so much out of life like joy, happiness… You are only exiting, surviving.
    Dont tell me its a sin. Im praying to God every day to take this burden from me, heal me, give me peace, strenght.
    When I was at my worst, I talked to God 24/7 non stop. It did not feel like I was sleeping at all. I was begging Him to save me in any way , by taking away my pain or taking me.
    The illness its real, the pain is real.
    We dont chose it.

    • I am sorry you have suffered so Maya. No, you did not choose it and neither did God choose it for you. You seem strong so I hope you find the right mixture of support, independence, purpose, therapy and medications that will help you find the peace you deserve. Know that people do care and I will listen if you need to “talk.” Sometimes it feels good just to unload and let it all out, organize your thoughts and let someone know your pain. Email me at:

  31. Lots of “I’m praying for you” and other crap in these comments. Where is she? What is her phone number? I’ll get her to my house, get her help. Somebody must do something. I’m somebody. So are you.

    • Bob, I don’t know that her message is asking strangers to come to her aid as much as just a general plea to those who do know her and could help her as she shows us that even talented, resourceful people struggle deeply with mental illness. What you can do is support the organizations in your area that offer help and certainly if you know someone struggling with problems that overwhelm them, reach out and be the friend they need.

  32. This is heartbreaking because the truth is, there are no easy solutions.

    Just trying to help a mentally ill person is a major challenge. They push you away, they refuse medical options, they don’t seek medical or psychological intervention. They cannot tell you what they need. I know–I try often, not easy, because you usually face rejection.

    Just being there isn’t enough. Just providing support, advice or suggestions isn’t enough. This is a problem without a solution yet. They don’t know why they are “broken.”

    Hope has to come from more research, more study and more evidence-based solutions. And the medical community needs to take the field of psychology and psychiatry as serious science–something they fail to do currently.

  33. This is heartbreaking because the truth is, there are no easy solutions.

    Just trying to help a mentally ill person is a major challenge. They push you away, they refuse medical options, they don’t seek medical or psychological intervention. They cannot tell you what they need. I know–I try often, not easy, because you usually face rejection.

    Just being there isn’t enough. Just providing support, advice or suggestions isn’t enough. This is a problem without a solution yet. They don’t know why they are “broken.” I am not saying we shouldn’t reach out–I will continue to do so, and I hope others will too. Even if we can’t effect change, we can at least let them know there are people who care.

    But hope has to come from more research, more study and more evidence-based solutions. And the medical community needs to take the field of psychology and psychiatry as serious science–something they fail to do currently.

  34. It is killing me as well. Navy Vet and 16 years of information security experience, I will be homeless Tuesday. PTSD and GAD.

    • Dana, I am so sorry to hear that. I am sending you thoughts for strength and the peace you deserve. If you have fought this long, don’t give up now. I hope you have some resources lined up to help you. Tell us what we can do?

  35. In my world this shit scares people away and now I’m thankful. I realized I’m accountable and nobody else. My mother has suffered from anorexia for over 20 years because she has so many enablers. Her friends, the church and the system. She wanted the attention and it worked and now probably half million in hospital bills.
    I know the pain, its awful, it’s dark unlike anything. Depression, anxiety, alcoholism, bulimia.It hurt my eyes to leave the house because I had not seen the sun in so long. Two things saved my life – recovery and accountability. I love Sineads music..I wish her the best.

  36. Clearly many will not “give a damn” but many will, though not be sure what they can do. Number one is to start thinking of mental illness as you do other medical issues and let us all learn to leave the judgment, insults and stigma behind us and see that even angry, offensive, impulsive, obsessive, depressed, manic, addicted and problematic people are suffering and in the throes of their illness, therefore not themselves.

    I think some who are in this blog community are in some of the categories that could be mental illness. Sadly the responses (mine included) do not always seem to offer any slack or sympathy.

    Until we can look past the anger, insults, difficulty, outbursts, and trouble their illness can help/cause them to do, we cannot be what they need.

    She mentions that she is also physically sick with possibly a kidney stone, which is very, very, intense and lasting pain that can last days and really wear you down. That alone can cause anxiety, sleep deprivation, and mood/anger issues as you are just so physically ill. Add that to any mental condition and trouble will erupt.

    Sometimes you do have to distance yourself for your own protection while they settle down or get over the episode, and they usually do. The person spitting mad, manic, rambling, texting, calling, emailing, yelling invective and threats today is remorseful, quiet, shamed and closer to normal a day or so later. That roller coaster effect is very hard on all. It does cause families to disrupt and dissolve. That is the sad reality of dealing with a mentally ill person.

    Would we abandon them if it was cancer or paralysis or some other debilitating disease? Then we need to suck it up and not abandon them when they curse us, get into trouble, use drugs, etc. It is one of the hardest relationships humans can have. But depriving them of their children, kindness, decency and some form of love is being cruel to someone who literally cannot help it.

    I do not have the answers, and one size never fits all, but my compassion is with those suffering on either side of the equation. We need better facilities, half-way houses, assisted living situations, and much better intervention for when the person will not see they need help. There is a lot of work to do.

  37. Few more words about the stigma…
    Many people connect mental disorder, depression, suicide with substance abuse.
    Well, let me tell you : this is not always the case. I am the best example. I dont drink or use dugs at all. That doesnt mean I think it makes me better then anyone who struggle also with addiction.
    We need to ask thus question : what was the cause of addiction? In many cases depression or other mental illnes was first. Addiction must to have its roots somwhere, it must to start somewhere.
    Many people stuggling eith mental illness self medicate themselves by alcohol or drugs. In long term it causes more problems but at some point may seem like some type of solution , temporary solution . They get themselves into alcohol or drugs to feel better for a moment, to be able to sleep, to forget, to get a bit of relief, to survive another day.
    Dont call depressed people lazy or weak. Dont say suicide is selfish.
    I thought I was made from iron and nothing can break me. Well, when depression came I broke in million pieces like a tiny glass. It did broke me and left me broken, often still in “paralyzed ” kind of state, confused, lost. I am known for saying ” I am just zombieing around”. Well, that may sound funny to some but this is real true , reality for me, feeling like an empty shell, ” walking dead”.
    Some time ago I asked myself what can be good about depression. Nothing is goid aboyt it. Its not pretty at all.
    The only one positive thing about my experience I can find is being able to understand others better, to love others more, have more compassion for ppl as individuals and the whole humanity .
    I was watching lately last interview with Chester Bennignton who died of suicide last month. Well , he is talking about the same thing. We both, obviously complete strangers but having maybe similar experiences, came to the same conclusion.
    Yes, its so great to be loving, understanding and compassionate to others. But…here is my message to the onse who struggle with mental illness:
    – learn how to love yourself first,
    – be compassionate to yourself,
    – learn how to really take care of yourself,
    – make yoyrself priority ( no, its not selfish),
    – be gentle, kind to yourself,
    – forgive yourself .

  38. Hello everyone. So on last night, a few of us watched the show “I AM JAZZ”, the show about a 16 year boy wanting to become a female. The episode showed that Jazz, his Mother, and Manager, flew to San Francisco to consult with a Doctor that specialized in the transgender surgery. After the consultation, the Doctor said that he would be able to perform the surgery, though they would have to graft skin from other parts of Jazz’s body in order to help make a vagina.

    Now, when Jazz and his Mom returned home, he was excited and told his Father, “Now I can make my body match my feelings, and I can become a complete woman”. Allow me to make two points that I think are pertinent to the issue of mental illness.

    1. First, no surgery will ever make a male a female.
    2. To use Jazz’s words: “now I can become a complete woman”.

    Remember, we often hear from those in the LGBT community, “having a penis or a vagina doesn’t make one a male or female”.

    Well, I’m sure that Jazz didn’t intend to say what he said because if he had thought about it, he would have realized that he was admitting to the world that what makes a “woman a complete woman is that she has a vagina!”

    I have a feeling that the producers are going to try to clean that up at some point because of the potential to set back the whole transgender movement.

    Mr. Pavlovitz, I do sincerely appreciate your heart of extending compassion to persons that do in fact suffer from mental illness. I just hope that at some point in life that we can all extend that same compassion to the LGBT community given the extreme evidence of mental illness there.

    I have tremendous compassion for that young man, Jazz, because I know that he will live to regret this journey, and it will be too late to correct the mistake. God is loving and merciful, and I hope that Jazz will find healing as well as the woman in your posting, Ms. Sinead.

    If I may, I want to leave this link with your readers because a few of them say that people don’t have regrets, and this site says otherwise.

    Thank You, Sir

    • You have zero respect for trans people. You keep referring to Jazz as a boy and “he.”
      The procedure for vaginoplasty is pretty standardized, and the results are nearly always excellent, indistinguishable from a woman born female. Ordinarily, the skin of the penis is used to create the vagina. The only time a skin graft might be needed is if there is insufficient penile skin to form the vagina, but that would be very rare.
      But you know what, lady? That’s really none of your business. It’s between Jazz, HER parents and HER doctor. You somehow don’t enter into the equation at all.
      Not going to waste time with your link. Are there some people who have had the surgery and regret it? Probably… a very tiny minority. But when sites are promoted by anti trans or anti gay people, you can’t believe anything they say, because they have a proven tendency to lie and make up stories to promote their agenda. For all I know, NONE of the people it mentions are even real.
      Here’s what I know: I have at least 40 years experience working with transpeople. That includes those who had just started transitioning and those who had completed the transition. Out of the many such individuals I have known who had male-to female surgery, not a single one regretted it. Every one of them said it made her quality of life far better. What you have to ask yourself is why that bothers you so much.

      • Mr. Carey, you’re wrong. While I have tremendous respect for human beings, I have no respect for the attempt to convert a man to a woman or a woman to a man.

        No amount of bellyaching will ever change my mind about this matter. Jazz is a Male and always will be. He will simply be a feminine man and nothing more. Bruce Jenner can call himself “Kaitlyn Jenner” all day long, but the reality is he will always be Bruce Jenner. It doesn’t matter how long anyone has worked with so called transgendered people, no one can change the biological and physiciological makeup of a man or a woman, and Men like Jazz and Bruce will always be Men even if they do get their penises chopped off!

        Greetings from Tokyo!

        • Lillian so you admit you are close minded and not open to changing your mind, that’s fine– at least show some compassion then.

        • I’m not wrong. You have no respect for trans people, and you prove it with every hateful, ignorant post.
          You understand zilch about what it means to be transgender, what medical science says about it, what transgender people feel and live through, or what their lives are like before and after transitioning.
          You’ve placed yourself in some imagined position of moral superiority, but ignorance is never morally superior. It’s just ignorant.

          • Bill Carey wrote, “You’ve placed yourself in some imagined position of moral superiority, but ignorance is never morally superior. It’s just ignorant.”

            Not to mention it is NONE of her business. A person struggling with their identity is a person who deserves compassion, empathy, and support, not judgmentalism such as so many dish out.

            I am sick and tired of their claim to the moral high ground when we are all sinners.

            When we want to judge another person for what we perceive to be their sin, that is the Holy Spirit nudging us to pay attention to our own.

    • Lillian, no matter how many times you post the same misguided, misinformed ugliness about transgender people, repeating it will not make it true. Ever.

      I hope God is loving and merciful to you, and forgives you for the ugliness and hatefulness in your heart over something you clearly do NOT understand.

    • WTH is your problem? Please just leave this thread if you can’t quit badgering everyone about your obsession with spreading lies and BS about trans people. My son is trans and I couldn’t be prouder of him for his courageous struggle to be who he was meant to be. You obviously haven’t studied anything remotely intelligent, just biased religious and/or right wing nutters who probably don’t believe in climate change either or who are waiting for “The Rapture” to rescue them. I have been by my son’s side all the way. I’ve read study after study, talked to doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, university professors. You only seem to have read things that agreed with your prejudiced suppositions. You seem to only “know” unhappy trans people, and no happy ones. You act like one or two anecdotal tales is ‘proof’! You remind me of all the bigots who claim they ‘know’ Muslims, or that they ‘know’ Black people. What they ‘know’ is what they see on FOX News or religious media, or hear from right wing politicians. They possibly know two people and not very well, and they judge the whole group by those two experiences. If you can’t educate yourself than please stop poisoning people’s minds with your garbage. I’m sure even Jesus has heard enough from you!

  39. Pingback: read this and think about it for a minute… – a hieros gamos with life itself…

  40. I’ve been a fan since her first album, and I’ve followed her mental illness saga, played out in videos and rants, for years. But this is different.

    She says in her latest video that A.) she’s a person of means, and B.) she has a therapist she loves.

    In Sinead’s case, what are we to do for her? She’s looking for a welcome from her family, whom she has, by her own admission, treated terribly. So what can we do to help her in particular?

    As for mental illness, I’m a loud advocate for awareness and post about it at least weekly (and have for years). My daughter suffers from it, and we share thoughts and articles on anxiety and depression regularly. To me, destigmatizing it is the most important thing.

    If we’re concentrating our help efforts somewhere, I’m going with the folks who don’t have means and therapists they love. But that doesn’t mean people don’t care. The people who care about these things are the people who always care.

      • No Beamer, it does not mean “nothing.” It is the very real difference of finding and being able to have the medical care and resources for stability that you need.

        The poor will never be treated as well, as thoroughly or as completely as those with resources or stardom (until that is all gone, of course). Being rich and famous can even shield you from the consequences of your mental illness (I can think of some examples) in ways it never will for the poor or working class. It also can engender sympathy and support that the poor and working class will never have.

        The bottom line is that it cannot keep you from being mentally ill, so on that score, we are all even.

        • I wasn’t talking about that and I am not interested in debating the issue.

          Talent, money, good looks and personality means nothing when you experience mental illness. We are all equal and naked– illness is the great leveller– that and death.

    • Leslie, even someone of means and getting help for their mental illness doesn’t make it go away or guarantee making it manageable or even protect them from suicide. Even today, with the plethora of psychiatric medications and advances in talk therapy, mental illness treatment is still in its infancy. We understand that psychiatric medications work but we really don’t know how or why so we can’t predict which medications will work with which patient. Right now we need understanding and compassion, something that seems to be in shorter supply now.

    • Leslie – Glad to hear that you are a loud advocate for awareness of mental illness, and that you post about it often. Where do you post? I would love access to whatever you have shared, as my daughter suffers from the same illnesses as yours. I agree that de-stigmatizing MI is such an important thing, and would like to expand my own advocacy. Thanks.

    • I agree with you Leslie 100%. The first and most important is to distigmatize mental illness. This is the answer to the onse who are asking here ” what can we do, how can we help?”. This is the first step. Mental illness should be seen as any other illness and people with mental illness should be treated with the same care , support, respect and compassion as others with phisical illness.
      The isolation, beeing left alone to deal with the problem, being treated as less valuable, lack of support , understanding, respect , feeling alienated, feeling ashamed , embarrased , all those things may make the persons with mentall illness condition worst and even results in suicide in many cases.

      • Maya, claiming that we can “distigmatize mental illness” assumes that we, as individuals wanting to help (which was the question) have that kind of power at a time when this nation is so divided and angry that we cannot even agree on the most basic decency level of a president, that everyone deserves medical care, food and shelter. Such an undertaking cannot even be done in the conversations on this blog…

        • Sandi I don’t know why you made a comment to me to oppose what I said when I was saying the same thing as Robin.

          Do you have something against me specifically?

          Or did you just not read carefully what I wrote?

          Geesh … :/

          • I made my comment because I did not agree with what I believed you were saying.

            I do not agree with Robin that Leslie said or implied that having resources which so many lack means mental illness goes away, guarantees it is manageable or protects them from suicide.

            If you meant to say that wealth or fame does not shield anyone from mental illness, then we agree but that did not seem to me to be what you were saying. A wealthy person has so many more tools available at every level that it is not possible for me to feel it means nothing in relation to treatment and options. It may not help them agree they have a mental illness, it may not help them see they need help, but you cannot deny it can help them get it.

            I promise you I do not have any issue with you or anything against you. Your sensitivity will cause me to refrain from responding to you. Problem solved.

      • I agree Maya and thankfully people are speaking up and changing some minds, even though there are those who refuse to change their minds, we can trust that there is some progress and moving forward on this issue.

        Thanks for your comment 🙂

    • How can we care? People with mental illness need a support group. Sinead does have family, friends and professionals working with her. In misguided moments she expresses all kinds of things. But hang on before the collective blame of the article is heaped on our heads. Is this another Irish guilt trip? Sineads problems have been ongoing and are haunting in her melodies and lyrics, I never felt that comfy listening to her work.
      Mental health issues are a part of life. I think our way of life nowadays is increasing the strain on mental health, we must all be aware and mind our health, try protect and help those around us. Just like those in Sineads circle. But what can WE do about Sineads mental health really? At least she gets her upsets out, I think the real problem is that many who commit suicide wear the happy mask. Now they are the ones we must watch for.

  41. We need to de-stigmatize mental health. It needs to be like dental health, something you get checked every once in a while, and treated for if you are off. Our children should be screen once a year in school: we would have less suicide, mass shooters, abusive adults, and sociopathic presidents and those who vote for him. It is ironic that those who have had therapy are often more healthy than those who would never go, think they are fine, and call others “crazy”.

    Sinead O’Connor is a warrior, and has been a hero for many for a long time. If you do not know her music, you owe it to yourself to find it. She is a genius, and like many geniuses, must struggle with the dark side of her gift. Being sensitive enough to write and perform the way that she does sometimes makes it difficult to function in everyday life. Most of the the amazing things that have been created by humans were possible only because these people stuck around long enough to make contributions, despite the fact that interacting with the world was difficult in ways that others could not comprehend. They are often martyrs for humanity.

  42. I appreciate you speaking up for the mentally ill – too few of us make an effort to properly care for them. But, as the daughter of mentally ill parents, and as a cancer survivor, I have to disagree with this statement:

    “We don’t do this to Cancer victims or to people with Heart Disease or those ravaged by infection. We don’t make fun of them, we don’t call them weak, we don’t question their choices—and we sure as hell don’t leave them alone to be overtaken by their illnesses.”

    I have found that some people DO question the choices that heart disease patients or cancer patients must have made to cause their illness to happen; if we can convince ourselves that it was their choices that caused the disease, then we can pretend we can prevent those illnesses happening to us. We don’t call people with cancer “weak” but we do tell them they need to have a better attitude, that their recovery relies upon changing their attitude. And many people with cancer are left alone to be overtaken by their illness – friends disappear, partners tell them “this isn’t what I signed up for,” employer terminate them in the middle of the biggest fight of their lives.

    People fear mental illness in themselves, which is why they stigmatize it in others, and people fear cancer in themselves, which is why they stigmatize it in others. In our modern American society, we fear death so much that we inappropriately react to all kinds of illnesses, and the people with those illnesses, in the hopes that what they have isn’t “catching.”

    I pray that Sinead doesn’t take her own life, I pray that she finds helpful treatment and relief from her symptoms.

  43. The problem is not the public, it is the system. We (my family, and myself and colleagues at work) have done EVERYTHING to help a mentally ill relative or client get help. The hospitals do not keep them. They do not agree to voluntary help. We do not ignore or forget them…but the mental health system allows those that are mentally ill and unable to make certain decisions for themselves to do so anyways. Then they die..and articles like this about what the public do come out. We need to be talking about what the mental health system and mental health laws do to enable this.

  44. “We don’t care for people with mental illness very well.
    We distance ourselves, we minimize their sickness, we condemn their symptoms.
    We wash our hands when they become too difficult to handle, when their care becomes too messy.
    We ghost them.”

    We do just as bad, or worse to people who have physical disabilities, people with honest / negative attitudes, people with bad pasts… in short, ANYBODY who doesn’t fit what Society tells us, is “perfect”.

    If we’re so concerned about “mental” illness…we should cure OURSELVES, first. Maybe then, we’d have minds and attitudes that were open, and honest, and compassionate about those who are different – whether by disorder or design – and so that people like Sinead O’Connor – who is now pleading for her Life, such as it is, to be looked upon with some degree of compassion..not disdain, like she KNOWS Society treats those who don’t measure up.

    None of us measures up.

    Means we must all be mentally ill.

    Let’s hope for her sake, as well as our own, that somebody knows how to read signs…

    • Neil, if you know of a cure for mental illness I would like to know. I have had depression for probably over 30 years and I was diagnosed in 2002. I take medicine for it, it helps, but none of that has cured me. Talk therapy has been helpful, but that doesn’t cure me. I have my good days and bad days, just like anyone else.

      • Robin, I wish there was a cure for mental illness, especially for the one I have. However, I have found a form of treatment that has really made a very great deal of difference in my life. I’ve mentioned it before: Dialectical Behavior Therapy. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

        Seriously, it has had the most positive effect upon my life.

        • Yes! Of all the different types of therapy, excluding my years-long relationship with a great psychologist, taking a DBT course helped me the most. Unfortunately, I first had to go through a DBT course run by our local mental health clinic which was primarily geared to people with Borderline Personality Disorder and that skewed the way the course leaders taught the course and I felt those leaders also did a poor job. I had better luck the second time around. Not all classes or leaders are equal so it’s important to get some recommendations or references on the leaders before you start if you have that option. But, yes, great therapy! It doesn’t replace my medications but it is very helpful.

          • Siddigfan, Marsha Linehan, the psychiatirst who developed DBT did so as a treatment for people wtih Borderline Personality Disorder and her first two books on the subject were geared in that direction.

            However in her second edition of “DBT Skills Training Manual” she has done a major overhaul and revision and the therapy has been adapted so that any person with mental illness can benefit.

            I was fortunate to be exposed to the modified DBT and if a person is ready to confront their stuff, refuse to live in denial, well, I have found it the most liberating treatment I’ve ever experienced.

            Hmmm… that sentence ran away from me. LOL

  45. everyone is talking about it….which is good…but has anyone who is in the area done a welfare call? taken her food, drink and care?? has anyone in the u.s. who can reach out bothered? that is what i want to see….that is what i need to know. can you do that please? find her and check on her? get her help?? mister ‘celebrity blogger’??? actions speak louder than words.

  46. I think Sinead O’Connor uses mental illness as her get out of jail card for a lot of her obnoxious behaviour. The reality is, she can be an ignorant, rude, self-obsessed, narcissist at times, who has learned to manipulate and guilt-bomb her followers at the drop of a hat. To suggest that all of her behaviour is a product of mental illness is just too big a leap of faith for some. O’Connor is undoubtedly a very disturbed woman but where do you draw the line when it comes to these constant outbursts? Should we attribute this latest video monologue to her inner demons with little or no regard for the impact her behaviour is having on family or friends? Or should we respond to this latest cry for help as you might the local village drunk? If the truth be known, O’Connor probably needs a good psychological kick-up-the-arse yet nobody seems to want to take on that task for fear of tipping her over the edge. Her foul-mouthed narrative and rampant attention seeking is as much a product of dysfunctional behaviour as it is mental illness and the media need to stop feeding into the myth that everything she says is the product of a deranged mind. The reality is, O’Connor can be extremely lucid by times and this constant poor me act of hers can vacillate between being victim and aggressor in the blink of an eye. Threatening suicide as a means of drawing attention to oneself is one of the most selfish, manipulative things you can do to family or friends. It has a devastating effect on anyone’s ability to speak out. The thought that you might be the one to tip them over the edge is one of the most terrifying threats you could impose on any loved one whether it’s your intention or not. The threat of suicide renders everyone mute and those who DO threaten it need to be aware of the impact it can have on those around them. For O’Connor to have any chance of recovery she needs to look at the harm such threats do to her children as well as herself. She also needs to drop that extraordinary sense of entitlement that comes from those who think they ought to be loved no matter what. Life doesn’t work like that no matter how much money you’ve spent as she so often reminds us. If you hurt family and friends and trash them in public they’re not going to jump into your arms just because you happen to be paying the bills. They too might also be wounded by your caustic remarks and a good dose of empathy goes a long way when it comes re-building bridges with those she has hurt.

    • Have you ever worked in psych? I am guessing not. I have. If you had, you would know that even severely mentally ill people sometimes have lucid moments.
      Did you know that when people with bipolar illness are in a normal state, they are some of the most wonderful, lovable, friendly people on earth. But when they are in a manic state, those same people can be some of the most hostile, hateful, obnoxious people on earth. And it is ENTIRELY beyond their control. They don’t even know they are behaving differently.
      The whole point of mental illness is that people who are mentally ill do not always act rationally. They do not always behave consistently. They are not always loving and kind and friendly. They can be…. and then the brain chemistry will change and their entire demeanor and affect will change with it.
      It’s pretty callous to assume someone with a mental illness is playing games, or using it to get sympathy, attention, etc. Living with a mental illness is like living in hell. And it can be worse if they never know from day to day whether they will be calm and lucid, severely depressed, floridly psychotic, or manic. A little sympathy would help.

    • It took years of unconditional love but my mom (who suffers from mental illness) and I have a good relationship, for the moment, which I treasure– but we could take a turn for the worse at some point yet I treasure these moments when she is okay.

      I have a tenderness towards those with mental health issues because I have seen how my mom suffers. It is beyond her control so I don’t want to ever add to her burden. Sometimes in the past I have had to keep my distance but I always wait for the storm to pass and come back to her.

      I think if you listen to Sinead in the video you will hear her say she has regrets but she also describes her illness. I have compassion for her.

      Society needs to change their attitude towards mental health issues and start with treating it as a disease not a choice, not a result of sinning or bad choices. We need to stop blaming people for it.

    • Edward, those are hallmarks of bipolar-disorder. People who suffer this feel like they are on top of world and can do no wrong for a period of time followed by a period of crushing depression, regret, and guilt. It is likely a neuro-chemical imbalance according to current theories. The brain trying to make more of those chemicals than it can sustain production. The receptors get a flood of the “feel good” chemicals and then when the supply eventually runs out the depression comes. People with bipolar describe it like a modern roller coaster ride. I don’t wish that on anyone.

    • Edward White wrote, “I think Sinead O’Connor uses mental illness as her get out of jail card for a lot of her obnoxious behaviour. The reality is, she can be an ignorant, rude, self-obsessed, narcissist at times, who has learned to manipulate and guilt-bomb her followers at the drop of a hat. ”

      Hmmm…. is this true only of mentally ill people?

      What you write, Edward White, is the same kind of Bravo Sierra I’ve heard from so many people, especially Christians, who want to pretend I didn’t exist, and didn’t want to get involved with being supportive.

      What you don’t realize is that your words are a form of rape in which you blame the victim. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn you have said these same abusive words to others you know personally.

      Here’s the best thing you can do if you want to sit in judgement on people with mental illness: join a support group for family and friends of mentally ill people.

      Get educated and stop hurling this Bravo Sierra from your mouth and/or fingertips. One in five people have some form of mental illness and those are only the ones with actual diagnoses. Imagine how many more there are who haven’t sought treatment.

      Here’s where you start your education:

    • “I think Sinead O’Connor uses mental illness as her get out of jail card for a lot of her obnoxious behaviour. The reality is, she can be an ignorant, rude, self-obsessed, narcissist at times, who has learned to manipulate and guilt-bomb her followers at the drop of a hat. To suggest that all of her behaviour is a product of mental illness is just too big a leap of faith for some. O’Connor is undoubtedly a very disturbed woman but where do you draw the line when it comes to these constant outbursts?”

      I have suffered from Bipolar Disorder for twenty years. Medication and talk therapy have kept me relatively stable most of the time, but there have been “in between” periods when I have:

      a) Self-medicated with alcohol because my meds either stopped working or I couldn’t get them;

      b) Manipulated my loved ones into buying alcohol or doctors into prescribing meds that were the wrong ones.

      There are too many others to name them all.

      I am sick unto death of people like you who sit as judge and jury and executioner on those of us with mental health issues. We didn’t ask for these problems and we certainly don’t need you judging us to push us farther down the slippery slope we are already on.

  47. I have loved Sinead since I first heard her. I’ve loved her music. I loved her bravery in calling out the deep, hidden corruption within the Catholic Church, years before people would listen and demand action to stop the abuse.

    Tapping into the feelings that makes art so vivid can also mean that those feelings dwell close to the surface. This is not a new concept, as Van Gogh’s paintings will tell us. There are a number of musicians – Judy Garland, Amy Winehouse to name but a few – where the distance between the song and the emotions disappeared. But that also means coping with those emotions can be a struggle. Riding the waves can be challenging for anyone struggling with depression or mental illness. Doing it in front of cameras on a world stage is even more challenging.

    It breaks my heart to see some of the ugly, sad things I’ve read about Sinead on social media. The same respect given male musicians like Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington is largely absent with Sinead, and with other women who walked this path before her. Sexism is just one more wall of ugliness for these women to battle.

    I know this story is more complicated than we can see from a few inches of news print or a bit of social media. Mental illness weighs heavily on the family involved, and those bonds may well have been broken. A doctor who calls her his “hero” makes me wonder if she’s around the right people for her health – people who will ensure she gets the medication and therapy she needs.

    My sister took her own life 6 years ago, and at the end of the day, you can offer all the help in the world. You can offer money, a place to live, you can offer everything you have, but love and help can only go so far. The person fighting that fight has to do some of that lifting themselves, and sometimes they’re too tired, too afraid or too paralyzed by fear to make that leap.

  48. In 1992 Sinead O’Connor tore up a photo of the Pope during her performance on Saturday Night Live.

    That the Almighty God has decided she should suffer for her sins is not ours to question.

    Sinead O’Connor knows why she has reached this point in her life. She knows exactly why.

    • Wow… judgmental much? It was my understanding that Jesus had already suffered for our sins. He doesn’t punish our mistakes and failings (and we all have them) with illness or by robbing us of our sanity.
      Many years ago, a Catholic man on a pilgrimage to Italy was visiting a church. Inside the church, he suddenly felt overcome with a strong emotion, and needed to go outside. He stepped outside into a courtyard on the side of the church. To his surprise, he saw it was full of people lying on cots in various stages of dying. Kneeling next to one of the cots was a young man spooning water into the mouth of a dying man.
      Without looking up, the man kneeling there asked the pilgrim, “Will you help me?”
      “I don’t know,” he replied. “What’s wrong with them?”
      Still not looking up, continuing to spoon water into the dying man’s mouth, the man answered, “They have AIDS.”
      “AIDS?!” the pilgrim answered in disgust and revulsion. “They probably got just what they deserved!”
      The man on the ground still didn’t look up and didn’t stop giving water. Instead, he asked, “Which of us wants to face the worst possible consequences for our smallest mistakes?”
      For a moment, the pilgrim said nothing. Then, somewhat defiantly, he asked, “Why should I help you?”
      “That depends,” the man on the ground said, still not looking up.
      “Right. It depends,” the tourist echoed. Then, unsure of himself, asked, “Depends on what?”
      For the first time the man kneeling there stopped feeding water and looked directly at the pilgrim. He answered, “On this: Who do YOU say that I am?”
      Immediately, the courtyard was empty, and the pilgrim stood there alone, shaken to his core. He went back home to the United States, but was never the same person again. He learned never to judge others, never to assume that people deserved the terrible things they went through. He instead became a buddy working with men dying of AIDS.
      One day, Jesus and His disciples met a man born blind. Believing that such things were the result of sin, they asked Jesus, “Who did sin that this man was born blind? Him, or his parents?” Jesus answer, “Neither did sin. He was born blind that the glory of God might be shown through him.”
      Did Jesus mean that neither than man nor his parents had ever sinned? Of course not. All have sinned. What He meant was that sickness, disease, infirmity, disabilities, are not the result of our sins. If they were, every single one of us would be dead or dying.
      Sinead’s mental illness is no more the result of sin than someone else’s epilepsy is the result of demonic possession.

      • Bill Carey, this made me weep.

        What greedy, selfish, judgmental people we can be. I have long wondered why is it our knee jerk reaction is to look for what we consider wrong, what we can destroy with our harsh attitudes.

        It is so very wrong to concentrate on sins of others when, for one thing, Jesus shows us another way. It is so very wrong to concentrate on the sins of others when they are NONE of our business. It is so very wrong to concentrate on the sins of others when we are full up to the back teeth with our own sin.

        • That account of the pilgrim in Italy has exactly that same effect on me every time I share it. I can’t get to those words, “Who do YOU say that I am?” without crying.

          I’m reminded of a time Mother Teresa was visiting a hospice in NYC set up for people dying of AIDS. She was there on a tour, as a visitor, not to work. But immediately, she walked in and began to work: feeding, bathing, etc.
          On self-righteous person who was in the group taking her on her tour asked her, “How can you touch those people?” Her answer still brings tears to my eyes. She said “Every one of them is Jesus wearing a most distressing disguise!”
          Too bad many other Christians can’t learn to see Jesus in others: “If you have done it to one of these, the least of My brethren, you have done it to Me.”

          • Exactly, Bill Carey. Every single person in the world is our neighbor and Jesus tells us to love them all.

            Which is not the same thing as agreeing with them;

    • Jesus had compassion for those who are sick. I will follow Jesus because I believe he represents better how God behaves and thinks about people.

    • Marah, I believe Ms. O’Conner was already mentally ill, likely bi-polar disorder, before she even thought of being on SNL. She is also easily misunderstood. Apparently she knew of the scandals in the Catholic Church before the rest of us and she, in her own way, tried to fight back. People with bipolar tend not to make good decisions during their “high”. One guy described it as being constantly being high and then withdrawal of drugs, except the drugs you are hooked on are inside your own head.

      It is days like this that I want to scream at G-d “Why did you do that us? What is the point of having this burden? Why do you crush some to death with this burden and make us helpless to stop it?” and I doubt that there is a G-d.

    • What an ignorant thing to say. And even if…….EVEN IF she knew how she became ill, it makes no difference at this point. The poor girl is crying out for help, not your pontificating attitude. HELP!

  49. As someone who’s experienced mood disorders (managed well with meds, therapy, self-care) s/p a long family history of mental illness, I understand in my own way how she may feel or at least just deeply empathize. When I’ve been in a tough place, dear friends have simply asked how they can support me, which usually means lending a listening, non-judgmental, attentive ear…and something so simple has often made a huge difference simply because the door is opened to be heard, cared for, even if no one else can absolve the pain or discomfort. Not feeling alone is h-u-g-e,

    Suicide prevention training proves that simply listening and talking with someone in despair can shift their hopelessness and prevent drastic life-endings.

    My heart goes out to Sinead.
    I wish I could ask her directly what I/we could do to support her right now in the way she needs … make it a little more personal, I guess, Offer a listening ear that’s a little more personal.

    Thankfully so many people are risking vulnerability to speak up about mental health issues, which paves the way for others to do the same.

  50. Here’s the thing: this is so common in the creatives, the poets, the artists. And we take from them and consume their souls and we give so very little back.

    So she’s looking at you with those damn huge doe eyes and people are saying , “Oh , she just wants attention.”

    And that’s right. That IS what she wants. Your time, your heart, your thoughts, your hand. What if you gave it to her? And bought more time for her to bear witness to her world through her art? It’s not that much to ask. If you feel it is, it says more about you than about her.

    Godspeed, Sinead. Keep the faith.

  51. A large part of the problem is that we do not support the people closest to the mentally ill, but we expect them to take on the greatest share of care for their loved one. As a result, the closest support network for a mentally ill person is untrained, unequipped, and will invariably burn out, leaving someone like Sinead alone.

  52. For a couple decades I’d suffered from mental illness, depression specifically, and my family treated me like I was an embarrassment and that I’d brought it on myself by, and I quote, “Not exercising enough, not eating right, and not thinking enough positive thoughts..” Even the loving brother who took me in wanted to practice ‘tough love’ on me by pushing me and scolding me until my college son told him to stop. One pair of family members tried to sabotage my treatment by arguing with the doctors that I was just acting, trying to get attention. That I was a “Drama Queen”. Thank God, my doctors didn’t believe them. Later in life, I was found to have a growth in my lung which was thought to be cancer because it had grown. My family members couldn’t stumble over themselves fast enough to offer help. Evidently, to them, cancer was a ‘real illness’ and more glamorous for them to share with their friends. I was no longer an “embarrassment”. But I was furious! Thank God, all the testing and the doctors decided they were 98% sure it wasn’t cancer but they still aren’t sure what it is. I will live with the fear and perpetual testing to monitor it and, eventually my family grew bored waiting for something exciting to happen. After half a century, I still have the depression, though more controlled, and it’s still ignored and I’m treated like a child who is a disappointment and an embarrassment because I ‘never fulfilled my potential’.

  53. If I knew how to reach this talented lady I would certainly reach out to her and let her know that people DO care about her and want to help–now, while she is still here with us!
    I have suffered from P.T.S.D., Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety and Panic Attacks for years. I am on an antidepressant that for now, is “enough” to keep the bottom from falling out. I have also been hospitalized due to depression and suicidal ideation. It’s not pleasant obviously but my life now is MUCH improved over what it used to be.
    The thing with mental illness though is that one can relapse at any time and it can take a long time for a person working with their medical provider(s) to find the “right” medication for them–just as it can take more than one try to find the right therapist. It can be VERY discouraging when having to deal with all of that despite having no energy or motivation to do anything but merely exist.
    Currently, I and my family have great concerns over my (half) brother who is 46, has many gifts/talents, loved to laugh, was always sensitive and caring and a responsible and hard worker and citizen. He accepted Christ into his life at age 8 –I led him in prayer which was a great honor!
    Today, my brother is a completely different person. He has been in trouble with the law for the first time (this happened in 2011 and then again in 2016 but this latter time he was falsely accused of domestic violence. I say falsely accused because even though I have ZERO tolerance for violence and lawbreaking–family member or not–I SAW the marks left on my brother from his live in girlfriend–AND I spoke to this lady’s previous boyfriend who went through the exact same thing with her–she falsely accused him and he had to get a lawyer to clear his name)
    For the past five or six years my brother has been drinking quite heavily and smoking pot. He and this lady had a baby boy who is now 4. The little one is developmentally disabled–I fear it is because BOTH of them have/had addiction problems. They live apart now–my brother gets weekend visitation with his son–which they would NOT approve if they truly thought he was a d.v. offender.
    I believe my brother is not only addicted but mentally ill. His entire personality has changed over the past few years. He has terrible mood swings, his house is nearing foreclosure, he doesn’t take good care of himself or his home as he used to (the home is gross), he has lost his car, he no longer works due to depression and anxiety symptoms as well as his alcohol addiction. He has MAJOR anger issues seemingly out of nowhere and insults our elderly mother, makes her cry. He has called her a “devil” and “evil”, he has threatened me physically. He has doubted his parentage and accused our mother of sleeping with his uncle. (OUTRAGEOUS and TOTALLY not true!) He has recently told me that he has “been arguing with the angel of death…you know, the Grim Reaper and I told him if he tries to get me, I’m gonna kick his %$@$% ass!”
    The next day or even a few hours later he can be nice as can be. He has made suicidal innuendos and direct threats but when our mother sent the police there before, he turned on the charm and basically said “You know how moms can be—they can be worrywarts. I wouldn’t do that to myself.” And at times, that’s exactly what he tells us–that he’d never harm himself.
    We are at our wits end. The police said that time they can’t force him to be hospitalized if he’s not admitting to suicidal intent and not a harm to anyone else. Please, if you pray, pray for him? Thanks!

  54. I am a person who has struggled with mental illness myself, and lived with it in others, my father specifically. He had lots of “help”- in and out of mental hospitals, but that did not stop the periods of terror when he came home and then had to go off again. They did not understand PTSD from being a soldier then, nor brain injury from being a champion boxer- they attributed it to him being the enemy and being unwilling to heal himself.
    My mother would alternate between describing him as a “very sick man” or as a “weak” man. The sum effect of growing up with him meant I and my sisters have struggled to various degrees of mental illness ourselves, not that we would openly admit to it, considering what we saw our father go through.
    I recently took a test to determine my state of mind and was pleased to discover that for all intents and purposes I had recovered- not that I can cruise and assume I would never become symptomatic again. And these days my counsellor looks at me and asks, how can it be that am I doing so well considering my history.
    But the thing is, what was at the core of my recovery was that I wanted truth and spirit and goodness and love in my life, there was something in my that wanted to live at all costs, unlike my father, who wanted to die. Despite being rejected by my family ( for being the only one who dared to want more than it had handed to me ) I had friends who loved me and I loved them.

    You see, I read your article and I don’t buy it. Recovering from mental illness is not just about others caring for us, it is also about us-in whatever way we an manage- caring for others too, and about us caring for ourselves.
    It is a team effort and we ourselves need to be part of that team, not just demanding care off others. It is easy to call others to care- not so easy to have been in the maelstrom up close to extreme mental illness. Just as we are taught in first aid or in lifesaving, one does not go into a situation in which one might also become a victim.

    We are taught when rescuing a person who is drowning that when they start kicking and pushing us under because of their own fear, we are to let them go in case we drown ourselves. In order to rescue, the one who is to be rescued needs to be in co-operation with that life saving enterprise.
    It is not enough to yell at the world and demand help when you have a history of pushing away every person who gets close to you. ( those of us who have followed Sinead’s story for a long time will be aware of this back story, one you have neglected to mention )
    And it is not enough for a Christian guy to write a blog like this and guilt onlookers about this tragedy and say, you know, this woman is at breaking point and it’s everyone else’s fault. ( did you put feet to your words and go and seek to be with Sinead btw? )

    You compare our society’s attitude to mental illness to those suffering with cancer- well you know, if a cancer patient were kicking and screaming and biting and thrashing, manipulating and guilting those who wish to help her; they would not be staying around either.

  55. Pingback: The Sinead O’Connor Video And Why I’m Furious – Madeleine Swann

  56. I can’t fully agree with this article. I look at people with cancer the same way as a drug addict or a person with mental illness if they choose not to get treatment. I can’t feel sorry for those that don’t want to take care of themselves. Telling someone they matter often results in a response of “no I don’t” I have no follow up for that, it simply sets the other person up for dissapointment.

  57. Thank you for this. I have wrestled with depression for several years. I can usually manage, but every now and then I get overwhelmed and need someone to talk with. Unfortunately, friends are usually too busy to listen or don’t want to listen. And crisis hotlines won’t deal with anyone who isn’t suicidal. Why do we wait until people are on the brink of killing themselves before we pay attention to them?

  58. Yes I give damn. Good for her.
    My book talks about this too:

    It is important that we listen to this very brave women, change is needed to end stigma. It seems it’s the last taboo, ugly rants, embarrassing tears, yep you got it…for all it’s worth. And hey, it’s life threatening too. Just like a heart attack it can strike without warning.

    We are in the 21st century and still folk run away when the illness rears its ugly head. Yep that’s correct I have lived this with family and partners.

    I decided last year to write my life story, it was to break stigma. My Irish friend Sinead is doing the same thing. Education.

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  60. We don’t do this to Cancer victims or to people with Heart Disease or those ravaged by infection. We don’t make fun of them, we don’t call them weak, we don’t question their choices—and we sure as hell don’t leave them alone to be overtaken by their illnesses. —I was left alone with my mental illness while undergoing a six-week program of intensive group psychotherapy. I admitted myself knowing I needed help. They were the loneliest six weeks of my life.

  61. Pingback: Sinead O’Connor – Life & Times of A Borderline

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