He killed himself in June.
I didn’t know him, but I’ve witnessed the impact of his choice.
His girlfriend’s Facebook posts demand, then beg, for answers.
Her son -not quite old enough to understand- knows life is different, forever.
Today was the right time to write about this, on what should have been the 64th birthday of Robin Williams.
Suicide is stupid.
It’s the result of a cry for help never being answered.
Depression and anxiety can come from anywhere – the triggers are endless and the consequences can be terminal. Unfortunately, the stigma from depression, anxiety, self-infliction of pain, and suicidal considerations is overwhelming – sometimes more overwhelming than the pain itself. These afflictions are all about a need to be listened to and to know that you’re not alone, but many people suffer silently rather than risk facing derision or the lack of consideration in the eyes of others.
I come from a family that doesn’t understand depression. To their eyes, it’s not real. It’s something to be shrugged off, a battle to be fought of mind over what matters. More exercise, healthy eating, mental distractions – those are the solutions. Little weight is given to chemical depression and medicated treatment.
“If only I could just be happier, I wouldn’t be depressed.” It’s cyclical reasoning at its worst, and it’s why so many of us never get the lifeline we need.
It’s second nature to expect medical treatment when someone breaks an arm. There’s no “Just shake it off and get out of the slump” or “It’s all in your head – just push through and you’ll be fine.” Yet, in our modern society, mental illnesses still scare so many people that we’d rather just pretend they don’t exist. By belittling the issues and downplaying the severity of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, we are essentially burning victims at the stake, terrified of getting infected by this mental witchcraft.
Suicidal thoughts can happen to anyone, even you. They probably already have, at least once. Maybe not a fantasy or a command compelling you, but in some fashion or another, even if just a gentle tug on your sleeve or a subtle whisper in your ear. Driving home late one night, stressed with no end in sight, and you think, “One twist of this wheel, and it could all be over.”
It’s at this point I should make it clear that I’m not entertaining suicide as one of my long list of paths for my life. I suffer from depression, and it can be severe at times, but in the end, I am a narcissist who fears not leaving a legacy more than I fear the crushing pressures of life itself. Don’t worry about me.
If you deny that depression is real, educate yourself.
If you suffer from depression, you’re not alone.
Never be afraid to reach out for help. There is someone (and likely an entire community of someones) who has been through it before and understands. There are online communities full of empathy and support and the love you need to get the help you deserve. Because you do deserve it. Everyone does.
Here’s a small buffet of resources – there’s something for everyone, and I’ll try to add more to this list as I come across additional sources of help, information, and support:
- To Write Love On Her Arms
- Project Semicolon (note: I love the message of this organization, but hate that even with its disclaimer to the contrary, the faith-based aspect seems to mean that unless you’re a Christian with depression, you’re out of luck.)
- Freedom From Fear
- Band Back Together
- Stigma Fighters
- Postpartum Progress (for moms. Duh.)
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- The Good Men Project (for those of us saddled with an almighty D.)
- Self Abuse Finally Ends (Don’t worry – they don’t mean masturbation)
- Thrive Works
- Mental Healthy
- Mental Illness Mouse
- Defeat Depression
- Crisis Text Line
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- The Mental Illness Happy Hour
- Courage Beyond (for the military and their families)
- PMDD Girl (for women affected by Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- MoodTracker (an app to help you manage depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder)
- (I’ll add more links as I come across more resources)