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.