Sometimes I write when I want to get a professional thought or perspective out there. Other times I write when my heart tells me to. Today my heart yelled at me.
Everyone’s trying to make sense of the loss of the late, great Robin Williams. But we won’t ever make sense of it. We might come to grips with it, once the healing has started, but depression is a tricky beast. I was first touched by suicide in high school when a friend’s brother took his life. I thought it was so selfish. I was young and naive at the time, but this is a sentiment I’ve heard many times since then. Included among those times was when I was in a regional leadership role for my sorority when a collegian in one of our chapters committed suicide in 2006. And when a good high school friend took her life in 2009. And again when my friend’s husband took his life in 2013. I’ve come to learn that it’s an illness—depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain and so many more people suffer from it than we even know.
While I personally have never been clinically depressed, I have had some VERY low lows. The lowest came when I was a sophomore in H.S… and other lows have come and gone, but I know it’s NOTHING compared to what people who are truly sick experience. That’s the thing – depression IS a sickness. It’s nothing to be ashamed of because it’s a sickness, just like addiction is. When struck with both? What a horrible combination—a vicious cycle for so many—most of whom we’re familiar with because they’re famous. Chris Farley, Heath Ledger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Williams… Sadly, these names came to mind VERY quickly, but there are so many more. These people I just listed might have touched our hearts with their talents, but there are one in ten other folks out there who are “regular Joes” and “Jills” who suffer without us knowing.
|Circa 80-something – the good ‘ole days… Me, Mindi, Tracy, & Sarah|
Have you considered reaching out to someone in your life who you worry about? Or do you hold back for fear that you’ll hurt their feelings or because it might hurt your relationship? I know I have someone in my life whose depression I worry about all the time, but I’ve never really said anything. I worried about my brother Terry’s alcohol addiction, but I never said anything, and that slowly killed him. Not that I could have changed it, but I do wonder.
I briefly worked for an ad agency that has the task of supporting a local San Diego county (www.Up2SD.org), and now a statewide (www.suicideispreventable.org), campaign to help recognize mental health challenges in others and ourselves. What important work this is! It’s so awesome that government funding is going towards this very important cause. Hopefully it will make a difference.
If you or someone you know needs help or support with depression or addiction, please speak up. But also know THIS: All you can do is try. If something happens with them, it’s not your fault… They say there is no “try,” there is only do or don’t, but that doesn’t apply here – TRY, try, and try again.
Captain My Captain, you are missed – #RIPRobinWilliams. And so are you, Chris, Stephanie, Mindi, Thad… and all of the “regular” people who have left us far too soon.
Visit the Websites above if in CA or www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org nationally… Or call this national suicide hotline number: 1-800-273-8255. There is HELP out there – you DO matter – and there is ZERO shame in raising your hand to ask for help for yourself or someone else. Please do.