I thought about not publishing this blog but then I realized that not many people read this and maybe one person could benefit by it.
It’s been a difficult week for people who thought of Robin Williams as a friend.
But the one thing his suicide has done is bring about a discussion about depression.
Robin Williams’ depression and death reminded me of Linda McCartney’s fight against breast cancer and her death. All the money and love in the world couldn’t save either one of them.
Why would someone take their own life?
Why would someone who seemed to have everything hang himself?
Depression is difficult to explain to those who don’t suffer from it.
You could have a loving family, a good job, a nice home and still drop into depression’s deep well.
Years ago people who were depressed were called selfish. They were told just to “get over it” and “cheer up”. Would you tell someone with cancer to “get over it”? Someone with heart disease, diabetes? Depression is a disease like cancer. And it can kill you, like cancer.
Take one clinically depressed person, probably since childhood, add a verbally and physically abusive parent, and to that add a weight problem. Think about the consequences.
I have. I lived that life.
There were many winter nights, as a young teenager, when I would get up while everyone was asleep, and go outside and stand on the cold concrete stoop in front of our little house. I was trying to get myself sick. I hated school. I hated my life. I hated myself. Maybe if I were sick enough, people would think better of me. Maybe I would think better of myself.
I never got sick.
What I got was a one-way ticket to nursing school, something I didn’t want.
I suffered through that…two hundred miles from home and alone in the nurses’ residence most weekends. My depression told me I must have been sent so far away from home to a school I didn’t want because I wasn’t good enough for anything else. In nursing school my depression just magnified. I hated myself even more and I couldn’t explain the feeling.
And then I married someone who didn’t love me.
A child, the light of my life.
Difficult nursing jobs.
All of this with the sword of depression hanging over my head.
I was in my late fifties when I finally sought help and got the diagnosis and medication. My job was killing me or would kill me and I recognized I needed more than platitudes. But even as a health professional, I viewed it as a stigma. I didn’t want to be one of “those” people.
Aren’t people who take medicine and go to therapists because of a mental illness weak?
You will find that we are some of the strongest people around.
We’ve learned to survive.
We’ve learned to walk away from the cliff.
We’ve learned that we’re worth continuing.
But some of us grow weary of the battle and become angels.
Somewhere Robin Williams is watching over the rest of us fighters, sitting on his head, and saying, “Nanu, nanu” to make us laugh.
8 thoughts on “Serious Saturday”
I have been to the “dark side” I guess, many many years ago–before I knew you. But, mine, wasn’t a clinical depression. It was a “what am I doing with my life, and this ain’t working.” I found nursing and loved it; I found I was good at it! I found YOU! and loved YOU! Thank you for your mentoring; thank you for walking away from the cliff. As I battle this terminal disease of mine, I am trying to hang on to every day–every minute. I hope you will too. Love to you my friend.
Love you, too. Kathy. Know that you’re not in the battle alone.
Mitzi, I have this here with my one child…every day I worry, every day I try to help, every day I come close to failing. She’s getting help but I don’t really see it working. You proved to me that it can work out, and have given me hope that it will. And as for your friend Kathy, I will add her to my prayer list and hope God gives her strength and His love.
Irene – you are the best. You’ve brightened many of my days, even if you are a Jersey Girl.
I’ve struggled on and off with this my whole life, too. I don’t talk a lot about it, nor do i hide from it. Robin Williams’ death, while very tragic and sad, is likely to save a lot of lives because so many people are opening up about this now. Good for you for writing this blog. Email me any time if you just want to bitch, moan & cry to someone who understands. Rebeccajclark(dot)author(at)gmail(dot)com. Hugs.
We never really know what others are going through. That’s why it’s so important to have this dialogue. It’s time to take mental illness of all kinds out of the shadows and into the light.
I know where Robin came from. I tried it twice and failed and the possibility of doing it still hangs over me. Clinical depression is hard, staying alive when you have it is harder.
I am very happy of those failures, my friend. Very happy.