Robin Williams untimely death due to on going depression (and addiction) was a blow to many. Myself included. A funny man committing suicide has no humor in it at all. It’s so shocking, so saddening and then when I get thinking about it so maddening all at the same time.
Mental illness has such a stigma that it is often brushed under the rug, not being talked about. Stories not being shared. People suffering in silence. A disease that society seems to expect people to battle alone. Often masking behind addictions that started with the hope to self medicate or behind behaviors that portray something very different from the inside horrors. Like comedy. There are many, many people battling mental illness (enter stats here) and specifically depression of some form (enter stats here). It’s a huge number! So why are there not more programs in place??
In high school (a long time ago) We learned about the dangers of drugs, sexually transmitted diseases from unprotected sex, nutrition and good personal hygiene. Nothing was ever taught about mental health. Nothing about depression. Not much about emotions or feelings really. In my opinion depression and mental illness should be at the top of the curriculum in middle and high school. In college there should be more in place than the counselor being available. Often the person in the midst of their illness doesn’t have the will or drive to seek out help.
I had a few times in my life where I was depressed. It was horrible. I can’t imagine suffering from chronic depression and trying many things to try to lift it having no success. Some people get better with medications, life style changes, diet and exercise or a combination of these…but some continue to suffer. It takes time and trial and error, which when you already are in the midst of something so debilitating it just feels like one more hurdle to cross and it can be too much. The final straw so to speak.
I’m hoping the death of Robin Williams will lead to more awareness about mental illness. His death shows that your insides can feel very different from what your outsides portray. Hopefully more discussions about and acceptance of mental illness will get the conversations started, leaving the door open for people suffering to open up. Even just a crack might be just enough to give someone hope and save a life.
Don’t stay silent!! Here are some resources of who could help.
24-hour Hotline National Suicide Prevention Help Line: 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)
Mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors
Health maintenance organizations
Community mental health centers
Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
University- or medical school-affiliated programs
State hospital outpatient clinics
Social service agencies
Private clinics and facilities
Employee assistance programs
Local medical and/or psychiatric societies
There are many resources out there and if you know someone suffering in silence and have been waiting for them to bring it up or ask for help, they probably won’t. Ask them. Bring it up. Be persistent, they may need you to be strong for them for a while. They may be angry at you for a while. They may cry, scream or hide but they will know someone is there. You may be the light at the end of the tunnel. (*I’m not saying that someone’s depression is anyone else’s responsibility and that you should take it all on by yourself. I’m just saying that the person in the midst of their illness may need a support system to get them started. You could just be the one to get that ball rolling.)
A poem I wrote in high school:
When I look into my eyes,
I see the pain I try to hide.
So much hidden so deep inside,
I must learn to speak my mind.
Who would I talk to,
What would I say,
Who would listen anyway.
If you ever feel like the poem above or know someone who does, find help! No-one needs to feel alone in this.