I’ve been dealing with writer’s block big time of late and I’m sure it has something to do with my lack of running. This isn’t going to be a “woe is me” post though – I think that I’ve exhausted that particular topic for now – although stay tuned, complaining about things is an area for which I am especially gifted.
Yesterday, Twitter, Facebook and the media in general exploded with the death of Robin Williams. I suspected how it occurred and very quickly I started seeing the word – suicide. To be clear, this isn’t another post on how tragic this is (it is) and what a loss of talent and humour to the world (also true). As someone who has sat on both sides of the mental health line – that is as a professional and as a consumer – I braced myself for what I knew would be the small but vocal minority who always appear to decry suicide and those that complete it successfully.
Again, to be clear, this is NOT a pro-suicide essay – far from it. What it is for me is a plea to those of you who say how horribly selfish an act suicide is or how cowardly it is for those who “take the easy way” out. It is also a plea for those who criticize people of any means, but particularly those of good means, for not trying harder, not using the resources they had and for doing something that is so illogical or “crazy”.
Knowing that you are leaving behind shattered loved ones or making a choice from which there is absolutely no coming back from just doesn’t make sense – at least not to the majority of people. If you are part of that majority, consider yourself extremely lucky. If you’ve ever been in the position where those thoughts and possibly even making that final choice seemed possible or even logical – I’m honestly so glad that you’re still here. I know how hard some of your days, weeks and even months have been.
As someone who has suffered severe depression, I can tell you that as I sit here today, I know how illogical suicide is and how the people I love the most would NOT be better off without me or would, at some point in their lives, move on, be happier and possibly even forgive me. I also know that I have not always believed that.
When you feel at your lowest and feel like there is no improvement on the horizon, it is challenging. Putting your loved ones through witnessing this is one hundred times worse. Imagine hurting more than you thought possible, feeling like you will always feel this way AND that your loved ones are going to be exposed to this, day in and day out. It’s a vicious, horrible cycle – it feeds itself continuously. This is how depression works. You cut yourself off from the people and things you love, not out of selfishness, but out of shame. Out of guilt. Out of a desire to shield others from the horrible thing you see and feel you have become or feel like you always were.
It is easy to sit in judgements and criticize those who choose suicide. What is much more difficult is to try to understand how they got there and to empathize with their situation. Statistically, every single one of us knows someone who has either completed, attempted or contemplated suicide. We don’t all look the same. We are not all loners – although some are. We are not all addicts – although some are. We are not all people that have been dealing with huge loss or trauma – although some are. Some of us smile, laugh, joke and have everything going for us – at least according to others. Depression and suicide don’t really pay attention to demographics – they choose pretty indiscriminately.
If you feel depressed, please, PLEASE talk to someone. If you know someone who is depressed, do what you can to help them. There is no perfect, sure fire way to deal with these issues. All any of us can do is try – try to get help, try to help others and, most importantly, try not judge.