The news has just broken that Robin Williams has died. It is seemingly suicide. According to a statement released by his family’s press officer, he had been struggling with severe depression. And it is such a waste. How many more people have to suffer before the silence around mental illness is broken? The stigma and guilt attached to such conditions only worsens the problem.
At my lowest times, the need to hide why I retreated from the world was one of the greatest burdens. I was scared: of being told (though not by the people that really matter) I needed to be stronger, get more exercise, eat right, and I’d feel better. That I was in control of my own happiness. Don’t even get me started on The Secret. That I should just get over it. Like I was choosing to feel like my body was filled up with lead, my joints fused to my bed, my heart so heavy and hollow I would do anything to make the alternate pain and numbness stop. I have not been to that place for years now, though some days are spent in bed feeling the beginnings of darkness creep into my periphery. I am thankful for every day it stays away. I am hopeful it will be forever.
Everyone’s hurt is different, and everyone’s hurt is valid. I’m guessing Williams’ was too great. I’m guessing he was too tired. The horrible news of his death is like a metallic spoon in the mouth – it tastes familiar, it tastes bitter.
Depression is real. Get over that fact, and maybe those that suffer from it will feel a little less alone.