So much has been written about Robin Williams’ suicide this past Monday. I have read most of it. In the end, what I’ll say about it is this: you will never know what someone else is going through. Never. It’s not possible, unless he or she decides to share it with us. Just because someone is funny does not mean he or she is not depressed. Just because someone has financial security does not mean that he or she is not depressed. Just because we think someone ‘has it all’ does not mean there isn’t a battle going on inside. You simply cannot tell by looking at someone, especially if that someone does not want you to know, what is happening inside. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…as someone who has battled and lived with depression for most of my life, I hid it very well. It is possible to go out and laugh and smile and act as though all is well, when inside you are slowly dying. And it’s not a matter of being strong enough to fight the good fight. You can fight and fight and fight, and at some point, you may get tired of fighting. You just want the pain to stop. It really is that simple.
Mental illness, suicide, sexual assault, rape… none of these are pleasant subjects; and yet, all of us are touched by them at some point in our lives, whether directly or indirectly, and it would behoove us to be more open about them all. Is it easy to talk about for most people? No. It’s can be very difficult. And it is very necessary, I think. There is a lot shame and judgement surrounding all of them, and that makes people reluctant to talk about them.
There are a lot of people who think that committing suicide is a selfish act. Jenny Doh wore a great post on this very subject. As she said, it is not about you or me. It is about the person who wants the pain to end and comes to the decision that the only way is through death. If you’ve never been there, you cannot possibly understand. And though I find it hard to believe, there actually are people who have never felt that kind of despair. I know a few. Or they are lying about it. Most, though, have had the idea at least make an appearance, however briefly. This is the comment I left on Jenny’s post:
“Depression is a chemical imbalance in your body/brain. It runs in families. I have lost two brothers to suicide. I have been seriously close to ending my own life. I got the help I needed. Jenny, you are absolutely right about suicide not being about you or me, but about the person who does it or attempts to do it. I can totally understand wanting to make the pain stop. Someone who has never felt the utter despair and hopelessness that a deep clinical depression can bring, cannot understand how this truly feels. I would go so far as to say that no one takes his or her own life on the spur of the moment, simply because of a bad day. Many months, years or decades of pain, whether physical or emotional or both, contribute to such an act.”
I also feel like there are different ways to kill yourself that are not even considered suicide. Abusing drugs and alcohol are two of them. And overeating is probably one, too. As the saying goes, everyone is fighting some kind of a battle. Some are more obvious than others. Mental illness, though, usually is not so apparent. And as long as there is so much judgement surrounding it, people will remain reluctant to speak about their struggles. Sadly, it takes the suicide of a well-known and well-loved celebrity to get people talking about it. My hope is that, however hard it is, that we continue the dialogue even after the media attention has died down. As I’ve said from the beginning, and the second anniversary of this site is just a little over a month away, my purpose for sharing my story is because I believe passionately that we need to talk about these hard subjects so that we can, hopefully, make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering.
My heart goes out to the family and friends of Robin Williams. I believe he did the best he could and stayed in this world as long as he was able to. May you find some kind of peace in knowing that his pain has stopped.