People are so quick to judge Robin Williams for his suicide, and others who have done the same. Calling them cowards, or selfish.
Depression is very hard to understand if you have never been depressed. Some people have had days where they find themselves at a crossroads in their lives, unsure of what to do next in order to excel. It feels a little overwhelming, and can easily bring you down. There have been times when a loved one dies, and you are drowning in sadness. You feel like there is nothing that will ever ease that pain.
I won’t stomp on those feelings, but they are not depression. People like to say that they’re depressed. Depression is easily confused with grief or frustration. They both make you feel bad/sad. Unless you’ve suffered from it first hand, then you realize that they are nothing alike at all. Depression is an illness. It’s a problem that won’t just “go away”. Not even over time.
Depression is when you’re walking into work on a sunny day, and you’re observing the beautiful blue sky, but you feel nothing. In fact you feel a little resentful. You begin to realize that you are going to be sitting in at your desk for the next 8 hours, on sunny days like this for the next 10-20 years at some job or another. A heavy weight pushes down inside you, realizing this thought. What is the point? What is the point of all of this? Why do we spend all of our time here on this Earth doing things that we don’t want to do, just so that we can spend a few hours in our apartment/home or eat at a nice restaurant? And in thinking those thoughts, you realize that there is no point. That you might as well be dead.
Depression is remembering that you used to love going to the park on the weekend. That you used to love to paint. But now, you see nothing on a happy, sunny day. The canvas is blank, and no images form in your mind. Your brain is an empty space of nothingness that wants to do nothing.
Depression is being a famous actor, known for bringing comedy gold into our households. Making everyone smile, but having no one really know your secret demons. Depression is facing addiction, and struggling to escape its gnarled grasp.
Depression is feeling unloved, or unwanted by your family. Depression is feeling like a failure over and over again. Depression is watching a car drive by yours on your commute home from work, and internally wishing that they might crash into you.
Depression is hoping that you don’t wake up tomorrow morning, and when you do, barely having the strength to pull yourself out of bed.
Depression is painful, not only mentally but physically. Your entire body aches, and you are overcome with fatigue.
I’ve suffered from depression my entire life since I was a teen. For some of us, it’s ingrained in our genes. For others, its brought on by an event that just won’t let us be.
Depression makes other people feel uncomfortable. People like to pretend that depression is something that you can overpower if you have the determination. That if you pretend that it isn’t there, then it will just go away. Or that if you’ll just “try” and be happy, then you eventually will be.
Depression is a series of physical/psychological problems within a persons body.
Some choose to treat their depression with medication. Some choose therapy. Some need that medication in order to even handle therapy.
I am of the personal belief that medication only masks the symptoms, and that in order to help you cope with (notice I didn’t say overcome) your depression, you need to take part in therapy as well. I feel like therapy is really the only way to get to the root of the problems that you’re dealing with. A therapist will tell you how to manage your symptoms, and how to recognize them when they appear. They will give you the tools to help you pull yourself from that deep hole, and find a way to eventually be happy.
Anytime someone knocks therapy, saying something along these lines, I want to smack them upside the head for their ignorance:
“I don’t need anyone to pscyho-analyze me!”
“I am NOT going to see a shrink!”
“I just need to be left alone. I don’t need any help!”
Sorry folks, but depression is something you just CAN’T do alone. The only reason I am alive today is because of my therapist and my network of people who care about me. I can say with honesty that had I not had friends and family push me into therapy during college, I would be dead.
That might sound dramatic, but it is the honest truth and I am not ashamed to admit it. I am smart enough to know now that I have a disease, and that I will deal with it my entire life. I can be happy today because I went to therapy, and learned the tools I desperately needed to survive. I know how to handle my symptoms without the use of medication because I know what is causing them now. I know now what brings on my depression, and I also have close family and friends who refuse to let me wallow. But sometimes, even with family and friends it doesn’t help.
Don’t be so quick to judge those who choose the suicide route. Yes, you have every right to be furious with them. Yes, you have every right to be sad.
But you weren’t living their life. You didn’t know the thoughts they were thinking. You didn’t have to deal with their personal struggles every day. Don’t call them cowards. It is their life. They are the only ones who have to live that life. Not you. Don’t get me wrong, I do not condone suicide. I am just not so quick to judge having been through depression myself.
I like to say that everyone has a different breaking point. Some people crumble at the smallest things, and others take enormous loads of stress before they finally crack. Everyone is different. What might seem like the end of the world to you, might be a “been there, done that” situation for someone else. Over time, your breaking point with grow with experience.
When you are in that place, everything around you is like a creeping black void of nothing. It is like you’re on the edge of a cliff, and a dark monster is grabbing you by the heels, dragging you down. It would be much easier to just let go and free fall straight into the bottom.
If you’re reading this, and don’t understand it, then try to realize now that you cannot fathom what depression feels like. And thus, have no place to judge those that do. Make a conscious effort to be kind and compassionate for the suffering of others. BE that person who will try and make a difference in a persons life who you know is suffering.
If you know someone who is suffering from depression, I ask you to do the following things.
1. Talk to them. Let them know that you are there to listen if they need you.
2. Offer to help them get help.
3. Actually listen if they offer up their feelings.
4. Be attentive, and take any threats they make against themselves seriously. Even if it sounds like they are joking.
5. If your friend is threatening suicide, call the police to intervene. Or talk to their family to have an intervention before anything drastic happens.
6. NEVER try to play down their feelings, act like they’re crazy, or that they can just get through this on their own.
Keep in mind that those who are depressed enough to hurt themselves will not likely tell you. Those that cut themselves or do things that seem to beg for attention are crying out for your help. Take this just as seriously.
Depression isn’t a disease that just “goes away”, but you can help someone suffering know that they’re not alone.
Will you be that person? Or will you choose to be the jerk that judges those that are truly suffering. If you suffer from depression, I seriously hope you aren’t judgmental. Just because you survived, doesn’t mean that everyone is as strong as you.
Depression isn’t weakness. Eventually people will realize that.
Robin Williams, rest in peace. I’m going to miss the laughs.