Monday, August 11, 2014

Misplaced Anger

The death of Robin Williams, and everyone's opinion is everywhere. Everywhere. More than not, it's with a culmination of both sorrow and condemnation. The latter is what I hope to discuss here.
I've read several thousand comments where people unfamiliar with the situation (or suicidal depression) judge Robin Williams for his method of relief. I, myself, have fallen more than once from the edge of sanity and have clung to fragile branches, knowing they are the only barrier between me and death.

Many bystanders have ridiculed Mr. Williams, stating "there are so many good coaches" and that he/she is "angry at Robin Williams for doing something so selfish" or "don't take your life, live your life!" These wonderful people are most likely well-intentioned, but unfortunately, they are misinformed and wholly ignorant of the overwhelming temptation of suicide.

The thought has crossed my mind on many, many occasions to burn the billboards announcing "suicide is preventable" with the number to a helpline at the bottom. Perhaps, dialing a number and speaking with an absolute stranger could help a deeply depressed person. I doubt it, but maybe that would help someone else. But perhaps, and just maybe, Robin Williams suffered from moods so severe that this would not help - maybe he was a little more like me than other sufferers who could be lifted from their dangerous state with a simple phone call.

Let me be clear, I am in no way "anti-help."

I do wish to clear the air on many misconceptions in regard to suicide as a whole. When I (and others) are in this completely irrational state, I do not feel or think like I "normally" do. I lose control of rational thought and physical capabilities. If I were rational and clear-headed enough to pick up a phone and dial the damn hotline, I would also be in control enough to not commit suicide.

Another fallacy is that those who are depressed or suffer from mood instability are "crazy," "lazy," and "selfish."

I am a thirty-three year old woman with three kids and a husband of eleven years. I took my first round of SAT's when I was twelve and attended a top rated university before I was supposed to graduate high school - and from that university I snagged an Animal Science degree (with a business minor to boot). I've run full and half marathons and written a book while juggling three kids (born within four years of each other) and a husband who's on call 24/7. If that's lazy, then I'd love to see what ambitious is.

The idea that suicide is giving up holds no more validity than me claiming that everyone could squeeze into my size two jeans if they'd just have "more will power." Both statements are ridiculous, ignorant and wrong on so many levels - it's an oversimplification of a very complex, disturbing disease.

I know to many outsiders who have not suffered from severe suicidal episodes it may appear that we are selfish. Mental illness and mood disorders are like a poison seeping into your blood, much like a cancer. To move, to think, to just be is painful. Agonizing.
You desperately need relief. You seek medical help (counselors, psychiatrists, etc) and attend the sessions while your doctors play with your medication (medicating mental illness is not science, but an art - not everyone manifests symptoms the same). This is not days, this is not weeks, this is month after month, year after year.

You are also heavy with guilt that you've saddled your husband, children, parents and friends with someone that is "broken." You want to save those closest to you from the menace you have become. You are convinced that you are an eternal thorn - at least that is what you believe when you are in an episode. You forget the lofty goals you’ve accomplished and forget the circle of influence you’ve attained. You forget, you.

I may have the correct dosage, I may have the greatest coach/counselors and I may still fail. I pray that I won't. I hope, like so many others, that I will continue to stand up again and again after each heavy blow.

Please, do not judge, do not condemn those that commit suicide. Celebrate who they are and remember that mental illness is but one facet of their lives. It is not who they are, it is one of their many characteristics. I believe we all struggle in one way or the other. Let us be kind, compassionate. I am no better than someone who suffers from addiction or any other genetic disease.

Robin Williams, you are an incredible comedian. And that my friend, is who you will always be to me.

3 comments:

Annis Cassells said...

Thank you, Clarissa, for your candid, personal, much-needed insight into the much-misunderstood world of depression. I salute you and all of those in this struggle. xoA

Cheri Chesley said...

I was 15, in a desperate situation, and the one thing I had pinned all my hopes on had just fallen through. It was that, "If I could have this/do this, then I could be better" mentality. Which of course doesn't work but I was 15. I wrote "the" note. I saw no other way. At that time my understanding was incomplete--I truly felt if I ended my own life I would spend eternity in hell. But at that moment it didn't matter. Nothing mattered. It just had to stop, and if doing that meant I stopped breathing then that was okay.

Over 23 yrs later I still sometimes feel that pull. I'm on regular medication because, without it, I tend to have manic mood swings--which is not good for my kids or my husband. Without my meds I contemplate dark, dark things. I can see the precipice and know what it would mean to jump into the abyss, but at the same time the abyss pulls at me. Draws me. I have many, many more good days than bad, but some bad days are paralyzing.
Thank you for sharing your journey. It is my prayer that our honesty will help others.

Marylou Vinson said...

thank you Clarissa and the rest of you who have commented on Mr Robbins untimely death. I too have suffered with depression and know what a dark dark place it takes you to. For those of you who have never had to battle with this disease I am grateful for you. But for those of us who have been battling with it for years and years and years I want to say that when you are in that frame of mind all you want is relief and if that means taking yourself out then that's what happens. It doesn't always help to just talk to someone. Medication helps a lot but it takes a long time to get on the right medication because as Clarissa said its not a science it's an art. I hope we all remember Robin Williams for his compassion and giving way and for all the laughs he gave us and not for how his life ended