When I think of Robin Williams, I always think of that super goofy and talented guy who was able to glide between characters and voices in the blink of an eye. When the news of his death–an apparent suicide after dealing with severe depression–broke I was sad, but not surprised.
I had seen Williams in interviews previously talking about his battle with alcoholism and depression. And, if you know anything about depression, you know that its face can be deceiving. Depression can lurk just beneath the surface of a seemingly “all together” or funny or successful person. I think that’s why so many were shocked about the news of Williams death being linked to a suicide.
And, I understand.
I’ve always suffered from mild depression. However, after I had a baby in 2008, the depression was compounded. It was probably postpartum depression, but for me the severe portion of it lasted over two years.
In 2010, two years after I gave birth, I wrote this on my personal blog in a post I called “Filtered Light.”
I feel like I’m swimming toward the surface and right when I see the daybreak filtering lazily through the water, someone (or something) grabs my leg and pulls be deeper…again.
Life is swirling around me and I can’t get to the top. It’s real. It’s hard. Sometimes it’s devastating and crippling.
Sometimes it just feels beautiful and calm and serene to float under the water. Unfortunately, everyone needs to come up for air sometime. I just haven’t figured out how to get to the top yet.
During that time I contemplated suicide, many times as a matter of fact. I remember when my child was just a few weeks old, I passed a pair of scissors laying on the kitchen counter. I stopped and thought, “I could just jab these into my body and end it all.” And that thought didn’t happen just once, it happened over and over. It was so bad that I started going around and hiding the scissors whenever they were left out so that the sight of them wouldn’t be a trigger for me.
At a conference recently, I spoke about some of my depression and contemplating suicide. I knew many of the people in the audience and saw jaws drop. Some people audibly gasped. Many were completely shocked that I could have gone through something that serious that made me contemplate killing myself.
They were surprised because it’s that deceptive face of depression. That face that makes you seem “all together” to everyone else while you’re screaming inside.
That face that tells you to pretend you have it all together, all the while it’s whispering in your ear that you’re worthless. That you don’t matter. That your life isn’t worth living. That you and everyone around you would be better if you could just make the pain stop.
So while I was sad to hear about Robin Williams, I wasn’t shocked. I understand. It sounds callous perhaps, but I understand how at that very moment in time you are convinced that it is the only answer.
But, depression is a liar and there is a better way; one that includes you living.
Today, I’m on a low dose of depression medication. That dose works for me and I’ll probably be on it for the rest of my life. But, that’s OK, it’s better than the alternative.
If you, or someone you know, is going though depression or contemplating suicide, please contact someone today. You can call the suicide hotline from anywhere in the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-999-9999).