Tragic news this week with the passing of Robin Williams. I still cannot wrap my mind around it. He was so extremely talented, was able to put a smile on everyone’s face and a laugh in our hearts. He will be missed by so many for years to come, and for those who will never know of him, my heart breaks. As talented as he was and as many TV shows, movies, and special appearances as he was in, there was so much more to this man that any of us will ever know.
My mind drifts to “the drive by fruiting” from Mrs. Doubtfire; the “itty bitty living space” and tons of laughs from the big blue genie in Aladdin; “Goooooood morning Vietnam; “Nanu-Nanu” from Mork and Mindy; “ O Captain, my Captain. Who knows where that comes from? Anybody? Not a clue? It’s from a poem by Walt Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln. Now in this class you can either call me Mr. Keating, or if you’re slightly more daring, O Captain, my Captain;” from Dead Poets Society, “I found you in hell. Don’t you think I could find you in Jersey?”; fromWhat Dreams May Come, “And if we bury you ass up, I have got a place to park my bike;” and on, and on, and on. There are so many memories. However, at the unexpected announcement of his death, the world focuses on the possible suicide more than his accomplishments.
Depression is an illness, a very serious illness, and just because we can’t see it, we tend to shrug it off and not believe in it.
Probably prior to 7 years ago and my husband leaving and my world falling apart, I would have shrugged it off to some extent like most. But now I know different. I have been there, I have felt that way. We will never know how Robin Williams was feeling or why he was so lost in that dark place that his only way out was to take his own life.
But I have been in a dark, unimaginable place. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see any way out. I could not function in the way I used to or knew I should. I could not imagine going on with my life. I often thought of ways to not have to go on. I am not what I would consider a brave person, so I never had thoughts of overdosing, or cutting my wrists, or hanging myself, or using a gun, or any of those. I did, however, have thoughts of never getting out of bed again, just laying there, not eating or drinking, or moving again, and just wasting away to nothing. I did have thoughts more than once of letting my car veer off the road so I would die in a crash. I would be driving and think about letting go and running into a pole, or off a cliff. Scary? Tormented? Sad? All of the above. As I had those thoughts one day with 2 of my 3 children in the car, I panicked and knew I had to do something to change these thoughts. In my mind, if I could think it, I could do it. Ever been scared straight? Well, I was. I got help and I have stopped having those thoughts.
But having been in that deep dark hole, I can understand someone else getting there, as well. As we see Robin Williams as the ever-smiling jokester, we fail to remember he was a person just like you or I. There is so much more to a person than the eye can see.
Just one more reason to not judge a book by its cover.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) (also known as clinical depression, major depression, unipolar depression, or unipolar disorder; or as recurrent depression in the case of repeated episodes) is a mental disorder characterized by a pervasive and persistent low mood that is accompanied by low self-esteem and by a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. This cluster of symptoms (syndrome) was named, described and classified as one of the mood disorders in the 1980 edition of the American Psychiatric Association‘s diagnostic manual. The term “depression” is used in a number of different ways. It is often used to mean this syndrome but may refer to other mood disorders or simple to a low mood. Major depressive disorder is a disabling condition that adversely affects a person’s family, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health. In the United States, around 3.4% of people with major depression commit suicide, and up to 60% of people who commit suicide had depression or another mood disorder. Wikepedia
“Suicide is a decision made out of desperation, hopelessness, isolation and loneliness. The black hole that is clinical depression is all-consuming. Feeling like a burden to loved ones, feeling like there is no way out, feeling trapped and feeling isolated are all common among people who suffer from depression………..
You can help.
Know the warning signs for suicide. 50-75% of people who attempt suicide will tell someone about their intention. Listen when people talk. Make eye contact. Convey empathy. And for the love of people everywhere, put down that ridiculous not-so-SmartPhone and be human.
Check in on friends struggling with depression. Even if they don’t answer the phone or come to the door, make an effort to let them know that you are there. Friendship isn’t about saving lost souls; friendship is about listening and being present.
Reach out to survivors of suicide. Practice using the words “suicide” and “depression” so that they roll off the tongue as easily as “unicorns” and “bubble gum.” Listen as they tell their stories. Hold their hands. Be kind with their hearts. And hug them every single time.
Encourage help. Learn about the resources in your area so that you can help friends and loved ones in need. Don’t be afraid to check in over and over again. Don’t be afraid to convey your concern. One human connection can make a big difference in the life of someone struggling with mental illness and/or survivor’s guilt.
30,000 people commit suicide in the United States each year. 750,000 people attempt suicide. It’s time to raise awareness, increase empathy and kindness, and bring those numbers down.
It’s time to talk about suicide and depression.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.”
Taken from Katie Hurley