Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve had a week. Insomnia kicked into high gear and that makes me pretty useless. I know there’s probably a lot of bloggers talking about this subject, in light of Robin Williams apparent suicide, but I wanted to speak a little bit about suicide and the effects it has on people. This will be triggering, so let me say off the bat:
DO NOT listen to the voices in your head telling you the world would be better off without you. THEY ARE LYING TO YOU.
**YOU ARE WORTH IT. YOU ARE WORTH EVERYTHING.**
If you are feeling suicidal or depressed call a crisis hotline, make an appointment to speak to a therapist or someone who is medically trained to help. You are important. If you’re afraid to be alone with your thoughts because you might do something drastic, go to a hospital and check yourself in. It is the scariest thing you’ll ever do, admitting that you need help, but do it anyway. The voices in your head are lying. You DO have family and friends who love you and care. I don’t know you, but I care. If you are on the edge of letting those dark voices overwhelm you, seek help now.
DEPRESSION LIES. YOU ARE WORTH IT, YOU ARE WORTH LIFE.
Please, if you might be triggered, don’t read on because I’m about to talk about suicide, suicidal feelings, and depression. Again, if you struggle with depression and might be triggered, make an appointment to talk to a therapist and be proactive in taking care of your own mental health.
I believe it was 2008 when a friend of mine finally succumbed to suicide. This wasn’t even a friend I was particularly close to, he was a guy I had grown up around and had had a massive crush on during the teen years. But he was someone who was like furniture in my life – a decorative throw pillow, a knickknack, a piece of art on the wall – someone who I saw regularly but didn’t necessarily interact with that blended into the landscape of people in my life. One day he drove his car into an underpass on the highway, a note found in the wreckage. He had been severely depressed and on medication, and was being monitored by a doctor, but the medication he was taking was amplifying the suicidal thoughts and is believed to be the reason he finally took his life. He had been married for 6 months and his wife had gone through a miscarriage in that time. He had a lot of responsibility and pressure to be this exemplary pillar of the community. I was exactly 5 days older than him. At 27, that’s a lot of expectations and life changing events.
His was the first death that actually impacted me. I had lost relatives, sure, but most I was too young to be close to or they were extended members of family I never saw. But him? That shook my core and I sobbed. It was unfathomable to me that someone I knew was gone, intentionally, purposefully gone. My heart broke for his wife, for his parents, for his brother – for the community who knew him. People say that suicide is awful, heart-wrenching, tragic. The ones who don’t get it get really cynical and call it selfish. Disgusting. I have a really hard time with that. While I understand the thought process behind it, I can’t really agree with the sentiment completely.
I’ve been in that dark place myself, holding a knife in my hand, wondering if it was sharp enough to do the job. Because if I was going to kill myself, it had better work. And I didn’t want to be Deb in Empire Records, sawing through my skin with a Lady Bic. It needed to be quick and then I needed to be dead. Even when I’m suicidal I’m pragmatic in my thinking. Though that might be the reason why I keep meaning to get my knives sharpened but never find the time to do so… But I get it. I know how hopeless, helpless, worthless, useless, alone that place it is. I’ve heard my demons berating me, telling me that I don’t matter, that my family and friends wouldn’t even show up to my funeral if I died. I’ve heard the lies they tell, really, really convincing lies. And you absolutely, 100% believe it.
I just make everyone around me miserable.
I can’t do any good.
I don’t have anyone who understands.
I can’t keep doing this.
I can’t wake up tomorrow and get out of bed and put on clothes.
I can’t keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I can’t deal with anything more.
I’m not strong enough to keep going.
They’d get over it eventually.
These aren’t TEMPORARY PROBLEMS. DON’T GIVE ME THAT BULLSHIT THAT SUICIDE IS A PERMANENT SOLUTION TO TEMPORARY PROBLEMS BECAUSE YOU AREN’T ME AND YOU DON’T KNOW HOW REAL AND LASTING THESE PROBLEMS ARE.
JUST LEAVE ME ALONE.
I DON’T CARE
I DON’T FEEL
I CAN’T FEEL ANYTHING ANYMORE
I JUST WANT TO DIE
I WANT TO DIE
LET ME DIE
I prayed for a car crash. I prayed that an 18 wheeler would run a red light and T-bone me and kill me instantly. I prayed to fall down the stairs and break my neck. I prayed that the guy with road rage in traffic would pull out a gun and shoot me in the head for forgetting to signal and accidentally cutting him off.
So I get it. I get why someone would look to suicide. Because when you’ve hit rock bottom and you don’t bounce, when the well you fell into is so deep that you can’t even see the pinpoint of sky above you, I can see why suicide would be a relief. The human psyche can only take so much before it just. can’t. anymore. That’s why I have a hard time getting on board with the “disgusting” adjective. When I hear that someone died via suicide, I don’t feel disgusted by it. I feel pity. I feel sympathy. I feel a deep sadness. Because unless you’ve been there, you don’t know how bad it can be. When you’ve stopped feeling anything at all, at that point, it’s sheer desperation. And anyone who knows exactly what I mean, my heart hurts for you. I’m not going to condemn someone who literally had exhausted all their mental resources to trying to work through and push on and stay alive by calling them selfish and disgusting. That’s unfair. They were so trapped under the dark, sinister voices lying to them that they couldn’t see perspective. They couldn’t see what you see looking in, they couldn’t see that they weren’t trapped in their mind, they couldn’t see hope. Pity them for it. Don’t condemn them.
In 2012, my uncle shot himself in the head. My little sister’s mother killed herself a month later. My grandmother died months after that. My cat became gravely ill and died a year later. In 2013 two of my students lost their father to alcoholism. My boss was close with that family. She also lost both her dogs, one to old age, one to disease. She lost her aunt. So much death. Too much death.
I’m still feeling the effects of 2012. My boss and her husband are just now starting to deal with their losses. I still feel the effects from my friend’s death. Death, suicide especially, linger with your friends and family. Even people you don’t really know well – the barista who knows your drink order will wonder where you’ve gone, the family who lives two doors down will wonder, the people you pass at church or work will feel sorrow that you’re gone, the person on the forum or blog where you comment a lot. The ripples extend further and longer than people are aware.
Everyone is mourning Robin Williams’ death. As they should. His death would have been tragic regardless, but it’s especially difficult when someone you think of as having everything, a comedian who makes people laugh killing himself. But depression doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care who you are or what you do for a living. It doesn’t care how much money you make or how great your life is or how many friends or family you have around you. It doesn’t care about you. Robin Williams was a brilliant comedian and actor and his works touched many lives. How many people pulled out their copy of Good Will Hunting or Hook or Mrs. Doubtfire or Jumanji and sat and watched? And cried. How many people posted RIP Robin Williams on Facebook, on Twitter, on blogs like this one? Because he was a public figure his ripples extend around the globe.
So don’t say, “Oh how selfish of him! How disgusting, leaving behind his family like that!” Because when you’ve reached the point of suicide you’re numb to everything around you. Say how sorry you are for him family. Send them your thoughts and prayers. Remember his legacy. Celebrate his body of work. Don’t condemn. It is tragic. Use it as reminder to reach out to a depressed friend and let them know you’re there. Use it as a catalyst to call your doctor and make an appointment to begin treatment. Every life touches another and all those horrible things your brain says, that my brain told me, ARE LIES. You do have an effect and your life influences the lives of others.
RIP Robin Williams. You will be missed and I’m so sorry. My heart to his family, his friends.