I want to thank you for the kind words on yesterday’s post.
In light of unexpected news yesterday afternoon, I felt impressed to elaborate more and share something very, very personal.
The news of Robin Williams’ death didn’t shock me as it did most of the world. It saddened me deeply, but somehow I think I’ve expected it for a long time.
I have known for years that Robin Williams battled severe depression. So when I found out that he had died, I knew instinctively that he had taken his own life.
It was interesting that it happened yesterday, on a day when depression and suicide were heavy on my mind.
You see, the horrible details I didn’t talk about regarding my friend Jason’s death? Well, he committed suicide two years ago. And it was terrible and miserable and completely shifted my world view.
Let me tell you, there are few things in life more depressing than attending the funeral of someone who has committed suicide. It’s awful and painful and full of unanswered questions and profound sadness. It’s so different from losing someone to an accident or a physical illness. When someone chooses to end his own life, everyone left behind wonders what he or she could have done to change the outcome.
Even though the answer is almost always: NOTHING.
Last year, my depression was at a very low point. I started having dark thoughts. Every single day for weeks I had thoughts all day long that I should just kill myself. That I should let that truck run me off the road or I should just swallow a handful of pills and go to sleep. Even methods that had previously made me recoil started to sound like blissful relief.
I knew it was wrong, but it became my normal. Every single day I made the conscious decision that I was going to stay alive.
I was on anti-depressants and seeing my therapist every week, but didn’t bother to mention this because, again, I really thought it was normal.
Until those thoughts got so loud they were screaming in my ears and I couldn’t take it anymore.
A memory came into clear focus. A memory of sitting with my friend Emily at Jason’s memorial service. And I thought about the sadness I had felt that day. And I realized that there were people that would feel that way if I gave in to those thoughts.
I reached out to my friends. I told them the truth. I finally told my therapist the truth. And I told my psychiatrist. And everyone agreed that I needed help. Immediately. My psychiatrist ordered me to go straight to the emergency room and check myself in.
And I did.
I spent two days in the hospital getting my medications adjusted.
Thankfully, it turned out that I was under-medicated and my situation was easily adjusted.
But when I think back on that time, it terrifies me that something so easily fixed could have turned into something so tragic.
Depression is a horrible, ugly thing. It lies. It tells you there is no hope and that things will never be better. But that’s not true. There is an end to that dark tunnel. There’s light on the other side. And even though it’s hard, so very hard, you have to keep fighting. You have to keep going. Find someone you can reach out to. Depression will tell you that you’re all alone. That no one cares. That no one wants to be burdened with your problems.
Those are lies.
They’re all lies.
That’s all depression does. It lies.
Don’t listen. Don’t give in. Just hold on a little longer.