An Open Letter To Amanda Lauren From Someone ‘Beyond Help’

Having nearly died by suicide six years ago, I can imagine what people would have said about me. They would’ve talked about my deep depressions, my unpredictable rage, how lost I was.

Maybe, like you, they would’ve said that I was better off dead. Maybe, like you, they would have callously remarked that some people with mental illness can’t be helped.

Here’s a letter for you, Amanda, from someone “beyond help.”

You were right to judge yourself for exploiting Leah’s story, because it’s exactly what you did. You took the life of a mentally ill person and diminished it, deciding to use her struggles for your own personal gain.

Mentally ill people do not exist as entertainment for you. They do not exist as a sensational story to tell. They are not a product for your consumption. We are not property, we are not objects, we are not paychecks for you.

But ethics were never a consideration for you, Amanda.

Let’s look at the facts: You celebrated the death of a mentally ill person. In doing so, you told people everywhere, “Some people with mental illness are better off dead.”

And you believed it, too, it was the crux of your entire essay. You, a self-declared expert on mental health recovery, have decided that some people with mental illness would be doing themselves and the world a favor if they died.

I want to ask you something. What did you think you were offering the world in writing this? What good do you think you were doing? I can’t see the good, but I can see the immense damage and pain that you’ve caused my community and myself.

I can think of a mentally ill teenager that would read your essay and say, “Maybe I can’t make it after all. Maybe I’m not supposed to.”

I can think of a society that already stigmatizes mental illness saying, “See? Sometimes they’re just crazy and there’s nothing to be done.”

I can see relatives of mentally ill people saying, “Just give up already. There’s nothing we can do.”

I can see a police officer pulling the trigger, deciding in a split second, “He’s crazy, that makes him too dangerous.”

Mentally ill people die because of attitudes like yours.

They die because they stop believing in their ability to recover in a society that tells them they can’t. They die because the stigma around their illness – stigma that was rampant in your essay – prevents them from seeking out help or accessing treatment. They die because their support systems abandon them. They die because law enforcement ends their lives.

We are the victims of violence and trauma because we encounter people every day who see us as less than human – people like you, who believe that being crazy is an invitation for tragic mistreatment and even death.

Six years ago, they might have said that I was beyond help. They sure liked to emphasize how severe my disorders were, how dysfunctional I was. Like your “friend” Leah, they might have said that death spared me from a life of institutions and burdening my loved ones.

(Maybe an asshole ex-friend would’ve made a buck at xoJane talking about my life with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. A kid can dream, right?)

But let me explain something to you, Amanda.

I wasn’t beyond help.

And it took six medications, and it took a psychiatric hospitalization, and it took a hell of a lot of support from the people around me (who, no doubt, felt the burden of my illness at times), but I am slowly but surely climbing out of the depths of severe psychosis and depression.

People counted me out for years, thinking that I could never reassemble my life after mental illness had torn it apart. But those people were wrong.

And you were wrong.

You don’t get to decide, Amanda, which of us are “beyond help.” You also don’t get to decide which of us deserve to live. You don’t get to decide who has a chance and who doesn’t.

Leah could’ve had a chance – and while you toss confetti on her grave, I can’t help but think about all the people that would’ve done the same to me prior to my recovery.

It’s easy to take a glance at someone’s suffering and count them out. It is difficult – and it’s called empathy, you should try it sometime – to see that person as a whole human being that is irrevocably worthy of care, validation, and support.

Leah was deserving of that and more, not death – whether or not you believe it, regardless of what your essay says.

There are so many people like Leah in this world, grappling with severe mental illness, who are told that they will not or should not survive. They’re counted out before they’re ever given a chance to live. They’re reduced to their illness and denied their humanity by people like you.

But every mentally ill person, including Leah, deserves the chance to live their life and pursue recovery on their own terms.

And every mentally ill person has the right – the goddamn right – to be treated with dignity.

I know that there’d be a lot of confetti on my grave if I had died six years ago. But I’m glad that I made it through. And I’ll tell you why, Amanda.

I’m glad because I am still here to fight for mentally ill people. People who are considered too much, too sick, too crazy. People who are written off before they’re ever given a chance. People like Leah, and people like me.

Because we don’t deserve to die. We deserve to live, and not only that, but live to tell our stories the way they should be told.

Not by people who want to exploit our struggles, but by us, celebrating the people we’ve become because of them.

Leah doesn’t get that chance. But there are people out there who still can.

And I hope they take your essay with a grain of fucking salt.

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135 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Amanda Lauren From Someone ‘Beyond Help’

  1. mrssmartinez says:

    Thank you Sam, I’m still so shocked someone would write such an abominable post. Thank you for standing up for what is right and influential.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. fourdirectionssite says:

    Thank you for writing this response. Incredibly well said and spot on!! The stigma surrounding mental health needs to be lifted NOW so we all get the help we need without the fear and shame we are often already struggling with. Much love to you and everyone who is affected by this illness.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. naclsweet says:

    I appreciated this article and wanted to share but I decided not to because when I posted to Facebook it shows that image from the original article which I did not want to include without a trigger warning. I tried to remove the preview but couldn’t do it from my phone and I’m not at home to use the computer. Regardless, thank you for writing this ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  4. allihurley says:

    Wonderful Letter to Amanda Lauren. You said everything that needed to be said. As someone who has also struggled with mental illness and has had four failed suicide attempts, it was refreshing to read this. What Amanda doesn’t understand is that those who are haunted by mental illness are some of the strongest individuals in society. Until they’re not. Thank you for this. The millions of people who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses thank you, too.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. GraceyyGabrielle says:

    Absolutely fantastic well written piece. I can’t thank you enough for this. Although I may never be able to write as well as you, I hope one day I can be the voice and ears to the people who are suffering in silence.

    But in case anyone ever wants to read on my pieces its at lovethatexist.wordpress.com . I would like to say it is truly my passion when it comes to writing things like this while fighting off social anxieties. It’s pretty nerve wrecking for me but at the same time I feel at peace when I write. X

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Jacqui says:

    I’m glad you’re still with us. I didn’t read what this Amanda person had to say about her “friend”and have no intentions of doing so. I’ve counselled many suicidal teens and their deaths would have been tragedies, not blessings….so thank you for writing this very much needed post.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. GraceyyGabrielle says:

    But whether my comment get approved or not, I would still like to thank you for writing this piece of response. To think that I was actually affected badly makes me feel all silly now when I see your response and it reminded me to stand strong and believe in myself because there is always that little ball of hope lingering inside me. 🙂❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  8. gracestjames says:

    “We are the victims of violence and trauma because we encounter people every day who see us as less than human – people like you, who believe that being crazy is an invitation for tragic mistreatment and even death.”

    Thank you for writing this- Amanda’s piece ranged from complete misunderstanding to condescension to being just plain mean. I hope us enough of us crazy people can stay alive to support each other in the midst of bullshit like this, and to defend those of us who died and aren’t around to defend themselves.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. rachxrach says:

    Reblogged this on The Naked Truth About The Naked Truth and commented:
    Well done and spot on. The reality is that most people have a degree of mental illness in them – sometimes just waiting to come out by some series of events – trigger mechanism. Its just that some have this desease in a far more intense basis than most and as such are classified as mentaly “unstable” – a rather harsh saying. a desease is a desease and a mental desease is just that.
    I am bipolar1, and since my treatment, I live a stable, healthy, successfull and happy life. If I happen to tell anyone for what ever reason that i have been diagnosed as bipolar and I live with this desease everyday of my life, they at first do not believe me and think I may have a bizarre sense of humour.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. cherelomeles says:

    It was nice reading this stuff for it reminds people how to treat people who have this kind of illness. Just continue to write. So, all people would be awake and stop on exploiting otheres life. ThankYou🙏

    Liked by 3 people

  11. thoughtfactor says:

    I just read the article in question, and it’s apparent that Amanda is beyond ignorant about mental illness. It seems she has no clue that there is a very real potential for recovery, no matter the severity of a given mental illness.
    I have had my fair share of mental illnesses throughout my life, and my fair share of treatment to go along with these ailments. I can’t even remember how many time I’ve been hospitalized for these conditions. What I’m trying to say is that I understand this subject, and I know from personal experience that escaping the darkness of mind is completely possible.
    Amanda made the mistake of pretending to understand something she clearly does not understand, and thus this toxic article was born. I too hope that anyone who reads her article knows to take it with a grain of salt.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Call me Cordelia says:

    This was difficult to read, but for all the right reasons. I’m thankful I read your post before the original (there really are things you can’t unsee), but making this ‘issue’ more public is the right thing to do. No one is every beyond help. NO ONE.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Arnet3 says:

    When you have everything but still wanted to die “negative energy “. You can change all that any time, anywhere. But most people change for someone else, hardly for themselves

    Like

  14. Tara says:

    Upon reading your very, well-written open letter, I went back to the Amanda Lauren post. There aren’t enough words to describe the amount of stigma within her essay. I am very grateful there are people such as yourself who are displaying what it is like to be a compassionate, caring human being with hope as your battle sword. Hope to change our set of circumstances as people with mental health situations, issues and sometimes not so very beautiful, crisis at times. I have lived with anxiety, OCD, Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Anorexia Nervosa. I have survived anxiety, OCD, Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Anorexia Nervosa. My mother has survived Bipolar II disorder. I say survive because at times it feels like the battle of your life and when you come out on the other side, physically in tact and as functioning as any adult can be after enduring the trauma which exists due to mental illness. And of late, after my second child was born last year, our family survived severe Postpartum Depression. Because let’s face it, life is chaotic at best and acknowledging this and living with it, is courageous. I say our family survived because we did. We did it together. The friends who choose to be my support system survive with me. Sometimes, no actually, it does take a village and I am going to ask the village for help because my children deserve to grow up in a mindful, loving-kindness environment which does not precipitate negativity toward human beings. They need to feel it is okay to talk when their feelings don’t fit a societal box. They need to know home is a safe place and humans are beautiful. When I read articles such as Amanda Lauren, I am grateful I have learned to toss the negative, naysayers from my life; however, they will forever give me #Perspective. I have commented: we have friends, supporters and people. Sometimes our friends are not our support system which is alright. Not everyone is equipped to be a support system. This I have learned through life experience. With this knowledge I am gaining, I continue to fight the good fight for people like you, me, *Leah, my mom, the patients of stabilization units and the countless others who survive mental illness every day. I am not ashamed and refuse to ever walk with that type of fear in my life ever again. I do this for a reason. I do this because I lived. I have Hope. Stay beautiful!

    *Would you mind if I link your article to my blog, Worthybit? “Putting the human back into humanity one Worthybit at a time.”

    Liked by 4 people

  15. ChattyPhotography says:

    Really interesting read, I have an auntie with Bipolar Disorder. Being honest I didn’t have the time of day for her when I was younger as I felt she was attention seeking. She joined me and my closest family members one year and during that holiday I discovered how fantastic she was as a person. Got to take the rough with the smooth!

    I now see how ignorant I was to think she was attention seeking, I will not think about people with mental illness in that way again.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. threecharms says:

    I have someone I love so dearly, who came out the other side of an aborted attempt (actually, two). Our lives are now so rich – not without their struggles, but beautiful just the same. Lauren’s post is dangerous, irresponsible. Luckily, there are other posts that hopefully work to counter it.

    Liked by 2 people

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