As most of you probably know by now, Robin Williams has died of an apparent suicide. My heart goes out to his family and friends, who must be struggling to cope. It proves that depression takes many forms and even the happiest looking people could have darkness deep inside them.
Celebrity deaths are often shocking for their fans too, and social media becomes an outlet for those wishing to honour the person who has died. I’ve noticed that this time, a number of people are urging those with suicidal tendencies to call helplines, or to talk to their doctor, or even confide in their loved ones. People seem to be openly talking about depression and I hope that this communication won’t stop once the shock of Robin William’s death wears off.
Depression is something that I’ve struggled with for a while. I’d say I had it on and off in high school and it came back with a vengeance after breaking up with my abusive boyfriend three years ago. Things in my personal life sort of went downhill from there for various reasons, though I’m sure the abuse I suffered from my alcoholic father didn’t help. I’ve always felt ashamed for feeling as I do, and it has been a very long road for me to accept that I can’t control the fact that I have depression. Yes I can control things that are triggers, but at the end of the day I still struggle to keep myself going.
I do not consider myself someone at risk for suicide. I have thought about it, and I often think about death, but not because I want to die. It’s more curiosity than anything else. As odd as it might sound, I would never kill myself because of the hurt it would cause my already fractured family. I want my depression to end, but not with death. That isn’t always the case with other people, and everyone’s struggle is different.
What I want is for the stigma of depression to go away. Why can’t we openly talk about depression? Why is anything negative viewed with fear and misunderstanding? I remember one time being told that my depression could be cured just by thinking positively. That person seemed shocked to know that depression is a change in brain chemicals, not just having a bad day. Then again, this person has never felt the effects of depression and couldn’t wrap their head around how controlling depressive thoughts can be.
I find it very lonely sometimes because I fear people won’t understand. I’m often told “Don’t feel that way” or “Well it could be worst”, which are really some of the worst things you can tell someone. It’s like saying how they feel doesn’t matter, that they aren’t allowed to feel what they’re feeling. It’s not like I chose to feel the way I do. I’d rather not have my brain tell me that I’m better alone, that I will never find someone who can love me completely, that maybe I am selfish and not good enough. If positivity was enough to change my brain, I would have been cured years ago.
But the thing with depression is that there are good days and bad days. My good days might not be “happy” days, but they’re days where I don’t feel like the world is coming down around me. It’s the days where I don’t miss the people in my life who have gone away as much as usual. And those days inspire me that maybe one day I can get past the darkness.
If you know someone who is depressed, remember that it’s not their fault. Remember that kindness and being willing to listen will always be better than frustration and advice giving. Most people who are depressed know what they should be doing, but they find themselves unable to actually make it work. A little TLC goes a long way.
If you yourself have depression and think of suicide, I urge you to please call a helpline. Here is a list of crisis lines for a number of different countries.