Nothing Selfish or Weak about Depression

Losing Robin Williams

I feel like a close friend or a family member died; not someone who is countless degrees away from my life. Or, as if the Easter bunny or Santa has died. Yes, I know the difference, but the joy, happiness, and a little bit of magic that made the world spin easier is gone now. He gave so much magic. He made life amazing. How could he do this? Why couldn’t he feel just an ounce of what he gave? He would still be here.

robin-williamsWe, the human race, collectively failed him. We weren’t there. We have turned our backs on mental illness and depression. We have failed not just him but anyone who suffers. Decades of keeping it in, hiding away, suffer in silence. Decades of, “We should be embarrassed by any feelings. Just shut up, put your head down and work hard.” We don’t bat an eye at drug addictions or sex addictions; those generate sympathy and understanding, but mention depression and the room goes silent. People scurry away with uncomfortable mumbles under their breath. I hate the stigma that follows depression. The judgment (and yes, I know I am dealing out a portion of that now) that these hurt people receive because they have fallen into the pit of depression and can’t get out. Well, let me tell you, standing on the rim and throwing down judgment instead of a ladder, does not help.

I’ve attempted suicide early in my life. I’ve been in the pit. I know that feeling of utter desperate emptiness with no other answer. I have been in the deep pit with no means to get out. I hated it. I was scared, and felt alone and a burden to my friends and family. It’s remarkably deep and you can’t see a way out. You just hear depression talking to you.

The voice of depression is strong and makes a good argument at the time. It knows the exact words to get anyone to agree to its selfish demands. I wish I could have been there for this amazing man and told him it’s temporary. Death is final. You may have to crawl your way out of that pit with fingers bleeding, but you can get out. You can’t crawl out of death.

Depression is not a selfish act, I am tired of hearing that. When someone commits suicide they are thinking of others. They are thinking, “I don’t want to bother them, I am such a burden. Oh, they’re going to say ‘grow up’ or ‘get over it’ or ‘here we go again.’ They are better off without me. I am such a waste.” It’s not selfish and calling it that is another way of strengthening that stigma we have. They are scared, they are lonely and they are desperate. They are thinking of others when they end their lives. It is an eschewed view and an incorrect view because most of us would go to great lengths to save someone. I would have for Robin. I would for the person down the street.

Clinical Depression is hard. You can fight it, you can manage it, but it is brain chemistry. Having society look down or pity you doesn’t help with healing.

Hope is one of the strongest weapons we have. Love too. It’s doesn’t have to be sappy love. It can be the simple fact that you love having this person in your day. Think about that. I don’t mean go hug your co-worker (you can if you want and he/she wants) but don’t take for granted that this person makes you smile. That is the beginning of acceptance. It could be the beginning of us changing our view on depression. If we learn something from this, if we could honor Robin Williams and all the other countless victims we have lost, maybe this is our chance to accept, forgive, and look out for one another a little bit more. We aren’t weak because we are sad.

Heather Linderfelt is currently a personal assistant to a 6 and 10 year old. She is a hobby farmer, but has worked in the past as a geologist and Technical Editor in Australia, Canada, and the US. She is also trained as a Pastry Chef from Le Cordon Bleu in London.

I really want this to be a bad dream, the internet hoax. Please bring Robin back. Set the damn reset button. He should get a do over. He shouldn’t have ever had to feel this way. No one should.

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