I'm not generally somebody who follows the lives of celebrities, unless they make big news & even then, nothing in their lives has affected me like reading "Robin Williams dead in apparent suicide".
I literally cried. And I'm still crying as I put my thoughts into words.
You see, it wasn't bad enough that we've lost such a beautiful, bright star. Robin Williams was yet another victim of depression. And I never knew he lived with it.
Of course, now it all makes sense. Many of us who live with chronic depression learn how to hide it well from the rest of the world. Robin was a professional at it.
I've lived with depression for as long as I can remember.
For me, the hardest part is the suffering in silence. I've been so close to following through on suicide. I've been to the edge of the river, about to drive in. I've gone further than I ever thought possible.
But not once have I ever had the strength it takes to reach out during times of crisis. Not Once.
I can think of two reasons right away.
1. Stigma: once people find out you have a mental illness, they treat you differently. I've experienced this. I've lost friends due to it.
2. Misinformed or not understanding: I can't tell you the number of times, I've been told I'm just not thinking positive enough or to just not think that way.
Well, folks, it isn't that easy. That I know from experience.
I can only talk about my own experience with depression. I have some good days and I treasure them. But when the darkness comes, it's very difficult to get through it.
Imagine being locked in a dark room with no light coming through and no way out. Left alone in the darkness with only your thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness. Sometimes our own thoughts can be our worst enemies.
Some try to mask it with alcohol or drugs, which of course creates more stigma and more judgments from others, which of course only adds to the depression.
And hopefully we learn, before it's too late, that drugs and alcohol don't help at all but only add to the problem.
I hide it for the most part. Nobody wants to listen to a downer, right? So those times, when the darkness is taking over, I isolate instead.
I socialize mainly online. I can put up a lot of positive posts and comments, leaving cute little smiley faces to fool the world into believing I'm just another fun loving friend.
And if you ask me how I am? I'm good thanks, how are you?
While inside, I'm hurting so bad and I cannot make it go away. There are times it will climax to the point where I can no longer find good, logical reasons to carry on.
All of this is in silence. And I know it always will be.
Robin Williams has brought so much to so many. A friend and I were reminscing some of his early days on Mork & Mindy. Or The World According to Garp (last night I kept seeing the young Robin Williams, being flown to the hospital in the helicopter, with that smile of his saying "I'm flying"). And who could not love Good Morning Vietnam.
It saddens me to learn that in his last days, Robin Williams, who gave so much, was suffering alone. I don't mean to say that nobody supported him. But when depression get's that bad, one is very much alone in it.
We need to bring more awareness to mental illness. We need to break down the barriers, myths and stigmas that prevent people from reaching out for help.
We have to talk about it.
If you have family and friends who live with depression, be there for them. I don't mean just dropping off the number for the local hotline (though I am very happy the hotlines exist). Be there for that person. It doesn't have to be 24/7. Give them a call to let them know you're thinking about them so they know they're not alone.
Open up the lines of communication & whatever you do, watch the judgmental statements or you will only shut that person down.
We already live with the stigma, the last thing we need to hear from those we love, is how crazy we are for thinking that way.
And yes, make sure they have the phone number for the local hotline. But also make sure they know you care and that you're there for them.
***If you think somebody may be considering suicide, ask them.***
You will not "put the idea into their head". Trust me, if it's there, it's already there. You're giving that person the opportunity to talk about it.
For those living with depression, I'd like to leave you with the words my oldest son just wrote on his Facebook status. Sadly he had inherited the family curse and knows it well.
"If you are going through depression, as hard as it is to
remember, you're wanted and loved! Find something,
anything, no matter how little or big, to get you through
the day. Go for a walk, run, swim, bike ride or workout,
play your favourite game, watch your favourite comedy,
hug a loved one, talk with someone, go skydiving, ride a
roller coaster, read a book, etc. Find that little thing that
keeps you going through an episode. I love you and others do too "
Thank you David - I love you!!
Rest in peace Robin Williams. You will always be remembered and loved.