Firstly- I have to start off this entry by saying a sincere RIP to Robin Williams. The world lost an amazingly talented and funny man, who has touched SO SO many lives, and I think we’re all a little sad over it. The above quote is taken from ‘Dead Poets Society’. It is one of my all time favorite movies. It made me fall in love with writing and poetry and reading a little more than I already was when I saw it. I always wished that I could have a teacher like Mr.Keating…
Apart from the world having a little less laughter in it now I am also deeply saddened by losing another person to suicide. It hits me very deeply- regardless of if I know the person or not. I recently lost my mentor to suicide a few months ago and I was shocked and devastated by the news when I received it. He had just completed his masters and was excited about his new teaching job…and then a few days later he’s gone forever- and nobody really understands it. He shot himself and his teenage son found him. It is something that he’s going to carry with him for the rest of his life, and he, along with those of us who knew him, will never truly forget. Anytime I hear about suicide and depression- it just gets me. I had a friend in college commit suicide. I had a patient at my physical therapy clinic commit suicide. My boyfriend’s dad committed suicide. I’ve had the thoughts go through my head before.
I’m very active on twitter and one of the things that I saw yesterday once the news on Robin Williams broke were the naysayers on depression and that suicide is weak and selfish and they have no sympathy for anyone who does that. I know that people have a right to their own opinion- but I will never be able to support them in that opinion. If you haven’t truly experience those feelings of helplessness yourself- you have no right to call anyone weak, or selfish.
DEPRESSION IS A DISEASE. And I’m tired of the stigma that surrounds it. I’ve been battling it for 16 years and for 10 of those years I kept it to myself. My dad lost his job when I was in 5th grade and in 8th grade my parents relocated our family for his new job and my world started to crumble. The home I had known for so long wasn’t there anymore. I was a teenager and all of a sudden I was thrust in to this situation of making friends with people I had never seen before and realizing the friends I had grown up with didn’t want to stay in touch with me. On top of that- my brother was battling alcoholism and DUI charges, my parents were fighting constantly and sleeping in separate bedrooms and teetering on the edge of divorce, and I was overweight and in a new place and I didn’t feel pretty, or cool, or smart, or good enough for people because I was never told I was those things and I had a history of sexual abuse in my past. It all began to swirl together and I found myself in a dark, cold hole that I had no idea how to get out of. I didn’t have boyfriends- I thought it was because I was fat, and ugly, and not loveable. I thought the only thing I was good for was sex- and I let myself stay in that mindset and just become even more miserable. I wasn’t told that someone was proud of me or that I was doing well in life- I was constantly criticized by my mother and made to feel like a failure. Even as I got older and in to college and post grad it would change from not having any friends to financial issues, supporting an alcoholic brother while he tried to get back on his feet, fighting with my mom because I “didn’t live up to her hopes for me” or I was “too hateful to ever be loveable”, being disowned by my dad because I’m in an interracial relationship.
I fought my demons on my own when I was younger, I got lost in the darkness and the hole and the sadness and the despair. I was helpless because I was ashamed. People would think I was crazy. People would think I was just being a dramatic teenager and tell me to “just get over it”. People would judge me because I had to take pills. I felt like a burden to my family because I was sad and they couldn’t help me, and I felt like I would be more of a burden on them if I asked for help because then they have the crazy daughter/sister. I had a good support system in my friends in high school, though, and that helped. Even if I couldn’t explain it to them, even if they didn’t understand, they were there to try to make me smile and feel loved and wanted and for a little while I would forget about the dark feelings swimming around in my head.
Over the years I will come in and out of the dark and helpless feelings. I got really bad a few years ago and I started developing anxiety issues on top of depression and decided to see a therapist. I spent $300 a week to have 2 hour-long conversations with her (I didn’t have health insurance at the time) and try to figure out why I felt like I did and what I could do to pull me out of it. I didn’t want pills or medication because I don’t like how they affect me and I don’t like the addiction to them (they would make me sick and give me insomnia which I then had to take another pill for)….I just needed help battling these things. And she DID help. She helped a lot. And she opened my eyes to a lot of things and ideas that I had never considered before because all I saw was worthlessness and darkness. It was the best decision I ever made in my life- seeing a therapist and getting help- and even then I didn’t tell many people because of the stigma of “Oh my god! She’s seeing a shrink…”
It shouldn’t be this way. It shouldn’t be frowned upon and treated how it is. Depression- and other mental diseases- are just as serious as diabetes, and cancer, and other “health” related diseases. It changes your whole body, your whole life, your whole world….and people are suffering and too afraid to get help, or don’t know how to get help, or can’t afford to get help- because the world views it as “wrong”. And then we lose people to suicide…because that’s the last option they feel like they have.
I manage myself better, now. I still have moments that come over me but I try to fight them and use the tools that my therapist gave to me and pull myself out of it. I also have an amazing group of friends and a boyfriend who understands- they’ve been there- and they help by letting me know it’s ok, they’re there and I’m loved and I have support.
I know that my depression will never go away. It will always be this small seed inside of me that blooms occasionally. I know that it’s ok, though, and that there are people there to help me.
I don’t know that typing all of this out will help anyone- I don’t even know that anyone will read it- but I hope that it will touch at least one person…
THERE IS HELP OUT THERE. If you are feeling depressed or suicidal- please PLEASE, I beg of you- talk to somebody. Tell somebody. Find a friend, a teacher, a mentor, a pastor, a doctor, a librarian, somebody on twitter or Facebook or a blog- anybody- and talk to them. If they can’t help you directly, they will help you find someone who can. There are options, there are people who care- and most importantly- YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You’re not alone.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255