Perhaps the only ray of light coming from Robin Williams’s suicide is the fact that people are beginning to believe it’s okay to talk about depression. Much in the way that Rock Hudson’s death opened the lines of communication regarding AIDS and HIV, people are now openly talking about depression, bipolar disorder, cutting, suicide. Maybe the light will begin to shine on this disorder and scientists will begin to pursue solutions in earnest.
I find it difficult to believe that a society that is on the verge of proving the existence of the multiverse of universes can’t determine how to stop the flood of chemicals and resultant blinding numbness that is behind some depressions. It isn’t sadness any more than decapitation is a cut on your neck. It isn’t a choice. There is no, “Smile, and it’ll get better.”
In fact, for many, sadness is a step up. Depression is death, just without the peace. Is it any wonder some, after years of torment, choose peace, however illusory? Suicide isn’t about giving up. I’ve counseled potential/attempting suicide victims. I’ve yet to meet one who would consider making that choice it they believed there was a bearable alternative. The simple truth is for some, there is no cure. There often isn’t even a treatment other than hunker down in your undersea cave and hope at some point that you want to float to the surface.
Robin Williams is the guy you knew about. I can tell you about a boatload that you don’t know about. Depression is real, and it’s harder than you think. I kicked mine, after years of it. I promise, if you ever fall in that pit, getting out and staying out will be the hardest thing you ever do. I lost a marriage to depression, not my own. Depression kills more than just joy.
If you know someone going through depression:
1.) Don’t compare them to yourself or others you know who don’t suffer with depression. AIDS ain’t a fucking head cold. Depression isn’t a “bad patch.”
2.) Don’t tell them to cheer up. They don’t need smiles; however, empathy would be nice. Do that.
3.) Encourage them to find professional help. You may have to wait until they have the strength to rise and look for answers. In the meantime:
4.) Love them unconditionally. That last word is a bitch. It means without judgment, without rules, without expectations, and often, without success.
You may lose the battle, but it’s worth fighting. Write your Congressloser and ask them why Mental Health isn’t a primary Government Initiative.