Of course, the news of Robin Williams’ death has stayed with me. But not only because he had such amazing talent, but because of the circumstances of his death. When my husband told me that he committed suicide, I did not believe him. I said, ‘That has got to be a hoax.’ I really wish it had been. Then learning the way he did it shocked me to my core. There are no words to describe the hopelessness he must have felt.
I have felt hopeless, depressed, like there’s no way out. I have felt like I would never be happy again. I have cried uncontrollably, thinking I would never stop. I have had panic attacks that rocked my world. I have even thought for a millisecond that it might, just might be easier not being on this planet. But never, have I ever, considered killing myself. It is so foreign to me. It is beyond my comprehension.
However…I get it. I have felt the feelings that don’t have an explanation. I have been on the treated side and untreated side. I know that I will never go untreated again. So I get it. If you are clinically depressed and you go untreated, I can see how there would be no other option. It is miserable, horrible, painful, uncontrollable, and hopeless.
My depression and anxiety began in 1987. I did not agree to treatment until 2001, when I had my first panic attack. Fourteen years!! I was offered medication in 1987. No way! Not me! I just figured I was crazy and that was it. I can’t say that I was miserable for fourteen years, but I could give you numerous times in my life that would have been a lot easier, happier, and a lot less painful, had I been treated. I could say that I waisted 14 years of my life, but I wouldn’t dare. I am who I am and that’s it.
Even after I began treatment and felt like it changed my life, I still felt embarrassed and frustrated about being on medication. I was determined to get off of it some day. I only told certain people about it. It was a deep, dark secret.
What a joke that is now! I shout it from the rooftops! It’s so freaking hereditary! My grandmother had it. My father had it. Two of my brothers have it! My poor nieces have it! Geez! It just is what it is.
I’ll never forget my therapist from 2 1/2 years ago telling me that I should look at depression as a separate entity that I can talk to. I decided to take it a step further and get really pissed off at it. I wrote a message on a bright pink sticky note that I wanted to picture here, but it kept coming up as a featured photo. Didn’t quite want it to be the first words displayed. It simply said, “Fuck you depression. Get out of my life.” My Dad told me he did the same type of thing back in 1959 when he dealt with the same issues. I will keep it forever as a reminder of the control I have over it.
This other quote is something I pulled off of Facebook. The part that especially resonated with me is the very first line. “…please resolve never to ask them why.” In my experience, depression is just like any other horrible disease. I don’t think anybody ever asks, ‘why do you have cancer? or ‘why do you have diabetes?’. If you suffer from depression, you have a serious disease. You need help. You need treatment. Just like any other disease. You do NOT need to be embarrassed or ashamed. You are NOT alone. You are NOT crazy.
I can recognize depression in other people. I get better at it all the time. I try to make a point to ask them how they are doing. I even sometimes dare to say something like, ‘you seem sad.’ Sometimes I even offer to be a friendly ear if they ever need to talk. I don’t mind sharing my experiences with just about anyone. I am never afraid of what they will think of me. It’s just not an issue. I am who I am and I am proud that I am beating this disease. Those of us who understand it have a responsibility to reach out to people who may still have questions. This disease often causes horrible and unthinkable things to happen. Let’s all agree to step forward and do something about it.
Maybe some of this could have saved Mr. Williams. Maybe not. The only thing I know for sure is that he is not suffering anymore. I will have to be ok with that.