I am rarely hit so hard by celebrity deaths, but losing Robin Williams was, as someone on Facebook said, a punch in the childhood. His suicide has renewed the cultural discussion on depression and that is a good thing – so long as people listen with compassion to those who have experience in this area. The minute you start throwing out words like “coward” or “selfish” or saying that he just wasn’t as strong as everyone else the conversation is halted. From that point on, no one listens anymore and the words of those who really understand are minimized or disqualified. And that makes me angry.
I recently wrote about how I am coming out of a bad place. A place where I wholly believed I’d seen the only happy days of my life and I’d never be really happy again. It was a bad place. And I wasn’t even close to suicide. I can’t even imagine the level of despair that a person must have to get to to reach that place.
Here’s the thing: depression lies. I wasn’t suicidal and I still couldn’t see the truth. If someone had told me that good days would come back, I would not have been able to even HEAR them over the depression screaming at me about how terrible everything would always be. I was so fucked that I didn’t even realize until I came out of it, that those were conscious thoughts I was having. I mean. I might have even verbalized those thoughts, but it didn’t make me aware of them. Depression is like that person that tries to pick fights in your family and they isolate you and tell you what everyone else is saying but don’t let you actually speak to those people and clarify things yourself – except that it’s keeping your own mind and soul from you. It’s like those estranged parents I always heard about growing up who would abduct their own children and say, “Mommy didn’t want you anymore” often enough until the child finally believed it. Except that it’s your own brain telling you that your heart left forever.
And I wasn’t even close to suicide.
I don’t know what to say, guys. If your ears aren’t open and listening to your fellow humans when they need you, if your heart isn’t open with compassion… then you’re the real problem here. End of story.
FYI: Since it is sometimes hard or impossible for people to bring up the subject of their own suicidal thoughts here is a list of warning signs. Talk to your loved ones if needed. And you know what? It’s gonna be fucking HARD. And it’s gonna feel shitty. But if they know you’ve got their back no matter what, maybe you can save a life.
And if you are struggling with depression and think of suicide as an option, please know that you are valued and needed and that we – I – want you here on this Earth.
I don’t know if it’s the sad news I can’t tear myself away from, or if it’s the fact that it’s so hot again this week that I don’t want to cook or move (especially because not doing basic daily things can be a trigger for me), but today I am having a hard time remembering that tomorrow I might actually feel great. Today the depression is louder than my logic. So I am going to do some things for me:
1. Tell you guys how I am feeling.
2. Stop listening to the news about Robin Williams for now, even if it means staying off the internet.
3. Be extra nice to me today even if all I can do is breathe.
I hope that, if you are having a hard time right now, you join me in doing some things for you. Knowing you’re out there will help me, maybe I can help you.