I was in a fever induced sleep on the couch Monday evening when I was awakened by my roommate, Doug, announcing that one of his news apps had just released a breaking news bulletin that Robin William had been found dead at his residence. I groggily croaked some semblance of grief and sorrow and fell back into a troubled sleep. A few minutes later I was awakened again by Doug’s chilling words that it was an apparent suicide. I was speechless. Which given the fact that I had no voice (I still don’t have much of one thanks to this round of crud I have fallen victim to), I guess it’s best. I stared at the ceiling for a while thinking back over all the movies and shows. I thought about the laughs this man has brought me, the happiness. I thought about the tears, the sadness, and the other emotions this man who I have never had the chance to meet has been able to evoke from me. The more I thought about it, the sadder I became. My heart breaks for him, for his family, friends, and for everyone his life touched. Most of all, it breaks because in that instant that he made up his mind, he lost his last thread of hope for tomorrow.
As time passed more details were released about his struggles with depression and his addictions. Also as time passed it appears two camps formed. Those that understand and/or are supportive to the people who face such struggles and those who are using this as a platform to say negative and rude things. I will say that my own thoughts on suicide and how depression is faced recently changed due to my own personal dealings in life. First I lost a loved one who didn’t see any way out but to end their own life. Then more recently I have faced the deep darkness that depression, anxiety, PTSD, and the likes places on a person. Both of those have greatly changed my thoughts on how depression ‘is’ and how one could possibly get to the point where suicide seems like the only way out.
Prior to the two events I spoke of above, I like many people who have never faced such things, could not grasp how one could get to a point where suicide was the solution. Then after the one two punch of these two events, I realized it’s not a solution. See, depression and anxiety disorders lie to you. They break you down to a point where your reality is warped to the point that what you are seeing is so skewed that you can no longer see past the negativity. You can’t see that things will get better. It’s a scary place to be when all you are holding onto is one thread of hope. It’s hard to hold on to that last thread of hope when your whole world is growing dimmer with each skewed thought. I know this, because I was there a few months ago. Everyone around me was telling me to just to keep moving forward, to keep going. That things would get better. What I was hearing was, that I was failing and I needed to do something different. So I’d get up the next day, try a different approach, that wouldn’t make me feel better, so I’d still feel bad, and hear my loved ones saying the same words, but my skewed reality was translating it differently. See. Depression, and anxiety, they LIE. They do so, so well though that their lies become our new truth. That new truth becomes our new reality. It’s vicious, and it happens seamlessly and without realization you begin believing things that weren’t true before, but all of a sudden they are.
There came this moment several months ago where I really scared myself. I held a bottle of medication in my shaking hands and I studied them for a good long while. I knew I held in my hands the perfect way to end it. To end the hurt. To end the fear. I was tired. So tired of being afraid all day long. So tired of crying. So tired of the panic attacks. In my skewed reality I didn’t see an end to the depression, nor the anxiety and fear. I was tired of living like that. All of a sudden it made sense and that’s what scared me. Suicide was not an answer as in it fixed the problem, it ended it. Much like when you get tired of someone bothering you online you block them. This was the ultimate blocking of yourself. With a deep breath I sat the bottle back down, tears streaming down my cheeks I realized I wasn’t ready to block myself. That’s the closest I have ever come to considering it though. What really stopped me was knowing how hurt my loved ones would have been. I couldn’t put them through that.
For them I can hold on to the tiniest thread.
For them, I’ll fight for tomorrow, always.
I’ve since thrown that medication away since I’m no longer on it. I started therapy once I was in a place to actually start dealing with the emotional side of all this and that has been the biggest help at regaining my hope.
So when I say my heart breaks for Robin Williams and his family, it’s because I’ve been there. I know what depression can do to a person. Each person’s battle is individual so I can’t say I’ve been exactly where Mr. Williams was that instant he decided he was ready to end it all, but I’ve been in a similar place. I also can say I’ve been in a similar place that many of his loved ones sit right now, after losing my own loved one due to suicide. My only hopes are that he has found the peace that he could not have here on earth and that his family finds peace and closure during this difficult time. It’s not easy being a survivor of a family member of a person that commits suicide.
I want to end with a quote from one of my favorite Robin Williams movie What Dreams May Come. It is all too appropriate. Even with the skewed realities due to depression and anxiety, that is what our truth is based upon.
“What’s true in our minds is true, whether some people know it or not.”