In the five years I’ve been publishing documents and other content on Scribd, I have

never felt compelled to preface any material with an explanation or editor’s note. But the
following content — a personal essay written by Amanda Lauren on the topic of mental illness
— warrants both an explanation about its republication here and comment as to why many of the
statements contained therein are untrue.
First, there’s a high chance that you have stumbled across this essay while researching
causes and symptoms of various types of mental illnesses. There’s a chance you may feel you are
suffering from a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or other disorders. You
may be attempting to self-diagnose using the Internet because you’re afraid others might judge
you if you disclose your symptoms to them or if it becomes known that you are in the process of
seeking help. You may be looking for an honest and frank opinion about how others view people
with mental illness.
Mrs. Lauren’s essay offers many misconceptions about mental illnesses and the people
suffering from them. She offers a grim and untrue prognosis that some people suffering from
mental illness are beyond help and that the only way out of their troubled life is death. Although
she claims she was friends with the subject of the piece, Mrs. Lauren offered no examples of
times when she showed any compassion toward her friend or when she encouraged her friend to
seek counseling or medical help for her disorder. Instead, Mrs. Lauren admonished the subject
for failing to get help on her own and concluded that the only remedy to her illness was the end
of her life. Mrs. Lauren claims she was a friend, but her actions as she herself describe them
show otherwise.
Since her essay was published on the website XOJane, Mrs. Lauren has herself been
admonished in a number of follow-up opinion pieces— including one written by me. Since then,
she has conducted a number of interviews in which she defends her essay as something intended
to bring attention to the plight of the mentally ill. She has also tried to paint herself as an
advocate for mental illness, saying she hoped those suffering from emotional disorders would
read her story and conclude that the best course of action was to seek help.
But nothing Mrs. Lauren wrote in her original essay indicated any attempt to advocate for
better mental health treatment. Nowhere in her essay was a call to action, or even a suggestion,
for people suffering from emotional disorders to get help. Instead, she bluntly stated that her
friend was a burden and that she was beyond help. Both are wrong.
Nobody suffering from a mental illness is beyond help. As I wrote in an essay on
Medium, seeking professional help for a mental illness or emotional disorder is the best thing a
person can do for themselves. For those close to a someone with mental illness, it’s important to
understand that the person suffering from the disorder sometimes doesn’t think— or doesn’t
know — that they need help. Sometimes a person does know that they need help, but they’re
afraid of being negatively judged in their personal and professional lives if they express a desire
to seek treatment. This is a stigma that needs to end.
Mental illness and emotional disorders can cause problems in friendships, professional
relationships and life in general for both the people afflicted by an illness and those around them.

But real friends don’t treat those afflicted with mental illness as a burden — real friends show
patience, compassion and understanding and they encourage the person to seek help. By her own
admission, Mrs. Lauren did none of those.
Mrs. Lauren’s piece has caused a furor on the Internet in the 24 hours since it was
published. After Mrs. Lauren’s byline was pulled at her request, it was eventually removed and
replaced with an apology by an editor at XOJane. In interviews since, Mrs. Lauren claims she
has been subjected to harassment and death threats. It is hard to say whether her claims of
harassment are true, but given the reactionary nature of the Internet, it is not unlikely.
However, this is the wrong approach. Reasonable people who are offended by Mrs.
Lauren’s essay should not channel their energy into harassing tweets and death threats. Instead,
they should aspire to be better than her. They should pledge to show compassion toward the
people in their own lives who may or are suffering from mental illness and encourage those who
are afflicted by an emotional disorder to get professional help.
Mrs. Lauren’s piece deserves a place in the ongoing conversation about mental illnesses,
if only to highlight what it looks like when a person’s own prejudice clouds their ability to
understand or show compassion toward someone suffering from emotional disorders. That is
why it is being republished here. And if Mrs. Lauren truly considers herself an advocate of
mental illness, she should take comfort in the fact that her essay is — at least for the time being
— the gold standard in how not to view people afflicted by mental illnesses.
Last, if you feel you are suffering from a mental illness, know that there are many
resources available to you. Some of those are listed below:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
1-800-273-8255
Operates 24 hours a day, counselors
speak English and Spanish, call is free.
U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services’ Mental Health Portal
http://mentalhealth.org
Veteran’s Crisis Line
1-800-273-8255
https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

Active Minds
http://www.activeminds.org
National Alliance of Mental Illness
(NAMI)
http://nami.org
ULifeline: Mental health resources
for college students
http://www.ulifeline.org

If you have health insurance, your hospital or primary care provider can also offer you
resources for mental health counseling and treatment. If you are underinsured or uninsured,
many cities, counties and states offer free mental health resources — just Google “free
counseling” and the name of your city or county. College and university campuses also offer free
counseling to students and sometimes the general public. Almost all mental health counseling
services allow you to remain anonymous.
- Matthew Keys
http://matthewkeys.net

5/19/2016

My Former Friend's Death Was a Blessing - xoJane

My Friends and I
Beat Up My
Rapist, And I Will
Never Apologize

My Former Friend's Death Was a
Blessing
Some people are so sick, they are beyond help.
·

How are you supposed to react when you see something you will never be able to un-see? How are
you supposed to feel when you think you have seen and heard everything and then someone's
Facebook page snaps you out of a state of jadedness? More importantly, is it ever okay to admit you
feel it is a blessing when someone dies young? Since my former friend Leah* died, drowning in a
bathtub, I've posed all of these questions to myself.
It's hard to share my thoughts and tell Leah's story — or at least her story from my perspective —
and not judge myself on some level for exploiting an awful situation. But the person she became
wasn't really her. It was as if mental illness took demonic possession over her. The real Leah had a
beautiful heart. She was caring and a good listener. One of my favorite things about her was that like
me, she was up for any kind of adventure. She was a good actress and had a beautiful singing voice. I
met Leah in high school, but I was actually friends with her younger sister who died of cancer at the
age of 19. I can't begin to imagine how that affected her.
Leah and I reconnected when we were both living in Los Angeles. There was always something
about her that wasn't quite right. While I was admittedly, for a while, not the best adult, there was
something about her mindset that had had just stopped evolving after high school. Her apartment
was always filthy and her bedroom had clothing strewn about everywhere. She didn't take pride in
her home or respect her own property.
She also didn't have real boyfriends or go out on dates. While dating in L.A. is hard, I feel like she
probably had no concept of how to be in a relationship. While we were close, our friendship started
to come to a turning point when she blatantly tried to hook up with a guy I had a crush on. My
feelings didn't matter to her. After that, I never looked at Leah the same way again, but I forgave
her. 

http://www.xojane.com/relationships/my-former-friends-death-was-a-blessing

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5/19/2016

My Former Friend's Death Was a Blessing - xoJane

We had another argument when I wouldn't lend her something of mine that was irreplaceable and
she didn't understand why. The final straw was when I got her a job working for the same company I
did. Sure, it wasn't the greatest job, but when you need money, you work. Of course she really didn't
have to work because her parents gave her whatever she wanted. I think this partially due to her
sister's death. When Leah quit the job shortly after being hired, I was really angry with her because I
felt it made me look bad. I told her I didn't want to be friends anymore. In all fairness, I could have
been more patient, but I was going through some of my own difficulties. I blocked her on social
media, moved on with my life and didn't really think of her for years.
A few months ago, I received a Facebook message from someone I went to school with asking me
about Leah because she saw her on her Suggested Friends List. I told her we had a falling out, hadn't
spoken for years and didn't say a bad word about her. She told me that Leah had become a "cam
girl" and there were basically nude clips and pictures all her over her page. I'm not sure how that
was even allowed on Facebook. I don't judge anyone for becoming a sex worker, but she wasn't in
her right mind to consent. She sent me a screenshot which made me curious in a total Mean Girls
kind of way. I had to unblock her. 
While most Facebook posts, at least in my feed, are pictures of engagements, weddings, vacations,
children, pets and links, her page felt like the diary of a fourteen-year-old girl with an eating
disorder from a Lifetime movie circa 1993. She posted the amount of calories in every morsel she
put into her body as if it were a food diary. Leah talked a lot about struggling with her weight, what
clothing she fit into (J.Crew tank top, size medium) and included darkly lit mirror selfies.
She also frequently posted about how she was mentioned on entertainment shows, talking about the
status of her relationships with various celebrities. For example, she would post something like
"Entertainment Tonight: Leah and Leo back on," or "Dish Nation: Leah and Ben, again?"
There were also posts about her mental condition. She talked about seeing doctors, specific meds,
and being diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Many of those posts were actually self-reflective.
Others made absolutely no sense with lines and lines of word salad and strange grammatical errors.
But perhaps none of this was as shocking as her posts about her angry phone calls with her parents.
They obviously knew what was going on because she didn't have a job other than the occasional
webcam girl gig. I can't understand how a parent would let their child go on like this. Clearly, she
was suffering and severely ill. If her disease were physical, would they have let her deteriorate to that
point?
My voyeurism into her life lasted for another week or two until she started talking about me. She
referred to me as her frenemy and revealed some personal information I had once shared with her. I
became concerned about people knowing this, but then I realized no one was reading it. I wondered
why she was even talking about me, but then I realized when I unblocked her, I probably ended up
on her Suggested Friends list. This entire ordeal was upsetting and I sent a message to Facebook
asking them to remove the post. Then I blocked her again. This was putting unnecessary negative
energy into my life.

http://www.xojane.com/relationships/my-former-friends-death-was-a-blessing

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5/19/2016

My Former Friend's Death Was a Blessing - xoJane

I felt like Leah's death was inevitable. Every box for being a danger to yourself or someone else was
checked. A few weeks later I got another Facebook message from a different friend, saying that Leah
passed away. She supposedly hit her head and drowned in a bathtub. Sadly, I really believe knowing
who Leah used to be, that she would have wanted to die that way. Big and dramatic with an obit in
the New York Times. Her better self would have been strangely proud. She would have laughed.
Then again, it doesn't really matter how Leah died. She might have drowned, but schizoaffective
disorder was the hand that kept her head below water.
It sounds horrible to say, but her death wasn't a tragedy, her life was. Her sister died when she was
in college. Schizoaffective disorder robbed her of reaching her potential. There were some other
things along the way. She was alone and terribly unhappy when died. Leah with the big heart didn't
deserve that. Judging Facebook pages, we all compare ourselves to other people, what they have,
what they don't, and their accomplishments. This girl had nothing to live for.
I realize there are plenty of seriously mentally ill people who take meds and get better. I don't think
the prognosis for all people diagnosed with severe mental illness is death. There are people who
learn to manage and live happy and productive lives, but with parents on the other side of the
country and no local support system, Leah would never be one of those people. What would the rest
of her life been like? She would have either been institutionalized or a major burden on her family.
There was just no way she would have survived on her own. Drowning to death was relatively
painless compared to what she had to endure in life.
When I think about Leah, I try to think of the person she was before our falling out. I feel some
sense of guilt because I believe my last words to her were "stay out of my life." In hindsight, I was
probably being petty, but a part of me knew she was trouble and staying friends with her wasn't
going to lead to anything positive. I don't know what happens after you die. I'd like to think Leah is
somewhere with her sister, singing, laughing and practicing yoga. She is happy, free and well.
*Name has been changed.

http://www.xojane.com/relationships/my-former-friends-death-was-a-blessing

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