Monday afternoon the kids and I had a pretty good day and an even better bedtime. I wasn’t stressed when Stampy came home from work, in fact I was calmly making salad dressing for our lunches this week. It was a pretty good day. After our usual “how was your day?” conversation he said to me “did you hear about Robin Williams?”. I hadn’t, being in productive kid mode means little outside news enters my brain.
“He died today. Committed suicide, it looks like”. It was 8:15 PM.
I had a moment that felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I stopped dicing cilantro and just stood there. At first I wasn’t sure why it hit me so hard. I never knew the man. I couldn’t tell you one personal detail of his life, other than I was pretty sure he had a drug problem at some point. I could tell you this. He was an actor that had been in a ton of movies that I loved growing up. He was a comedian that always made me laugh. He was a speaker I admired. Sometimes if I caught an interview I would think “he would be interesting to have dinner with”.
But it was more than that. It was that he lost a battle that many of us fight everyday, including myself. I don’t like to talk about my depression. I’m not ashamed of it, but it’s a topic that makes people uncomfortable. No one knows how to behave or respond when you pour your heart out. Depression has a stigma, it has controversy, it has a loneliness.
I’d like to think I understand what Robin was thinking about on Monday morning, but I don’t. Even though I have sat on that ledge next to him, I know the despair of being alone surrounded by love ones. I know the hopelessness of feeling like you don’t matter. I know the sadness of self loathing. I know the feeling of being awake weeks at a time. I know how to hide my emotions in alcohol and food. I know the lies depression will tell you. I know. I have been on the ledge.
I’m writing this for understanding. Over the past couple of days I have seen blog posts and Facebook posts both supporting depression and condemning it. As simple as some answers seem, “happiness” isn’t always a choice. Some days the heaviness is just there. I can’t force my brain to correct the imbalance, I’ve tried, it doesn’t work. It’s a disease, it’s a fight, it’s consuming, it’s hard. It’s also not a disease that has one answer. Some people find help in therapy, some with prescriptions, some with the Lord, some with family, and some with exercise. Unfortunately, some just can’t find what helps heal them and makes them feel whole.
So please understand that spewing out uneducated opinions on the topic of suicide and depression doesn’t solve the problem, it just widens the gap between you and the person trying to grasp your hand to help pull them out of the dark hole.
Great post Jamie, and I totally felt the same way when I heard about it. I do too suffer from depression and anxiety and the news ripped open old wounds. My dad commited suicide when i was 25years old, we dont know why but we think he suffered from depression but was never diagnosed because of the stigma that this illness has. Many posts on facebook made me furious because people have no idea about depression and that you cant just turn it around and be happy! I have sat on that ledge and luckily never surrendered to the hopeless and devastating feelings but i know how somebody could get to that point and i think it scares me that somebody so talented and who brought so much laughter and happiness to other people can be so desperate. I hope that people start understanding the real seriousness of this illness and help others get through it!
I’m so sorry Christine! I honestly think that if you’ve never experienced the heaviness and darkness, you just can’t relate. I just hope those that can relate realize they aren’t alone before it’s too late.