Larry Sanders, the former Milwaukee Bucks basketball player, recently disclosed that he’d taken a leave of absence from the team in order to be treated for depression and anxiety. He later took a buyout of his contract and currently is not playing anywhere in the NBA.
Someone I used to work with, who apparently somehow has been oblivious to my mental health status for the last 10 years, made a comment on this story on Facebook. He said that he would never make as much money in his life as this “useless (expletive)” and hoped he would overdose.
Even for this guy, who is known for his acid tongue, that was pretty low.
Sanders is a millionaire, yes. I am on disability and live at poverty level. But mental illness doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor. His suffering is no less than mine. This is why we need to continue to educate people.
There’s that oft-quoted statistic that 1 in 4 people in a given year suffer from mental illness. For some, it’s one-and-done. For others, like me, it’s an unending cycle. No matter the circumstances, everyone deserves to get help, and a lot don’t.
Larry Sanders could afford to get help. I am fortunate enough to have insurance. Many people don’t, or the insurance they do have won’t adequately cover mental health and the medications it often requires to help people improve. Community mental health organizations frequently have lengthy waiting lists. We need to find a way to help everyone, not just those with means.
“Normies” tend to be frightened of people with mental illness. The truth is that we are not all violent, not all mass murderers — almost none are, in fact. What we are is misunderstood and poorly treated, as seen above. Larry Sanders deserves compassion, not vitriol and hatred. If you have ever experienced an episode of clinical depression, you would never wish it on anyone else, even someone you really, really dislike. I can’t adequately begin to describe what it feels like, except to say that the pain is crushing. If you’ve ever wondered how anyone could even think about committing suicide, it’s because depression hurts that bad.
Larry Sanders is to be commended for speaking his truth. Other athletes, notably Brandon Marshall of the Chicago Bears, have spoken out, too. So have actors and comedians and many others in the public eye. It’s great that they are using their platform to get the word out. But clearly there is more work to be done, if someone can call a depressed person a “useless (expletive).”
Please don’t let ignorance stop you from speaking your truth. Please don’t let stigma stop you from seeking help. Please do know there are people who understand and care. Check out the following resources:
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
Psych Central peer support forums