A note beforehand: This is a… Difficult post. I’m going to call it an opinion piece and not an article because articles require research and thorough fact checking and things like that and I just want to talk, so it might be a bit… Unstructured. I don’t intend is not to offend anyone at all so please accept my apologies if I offend you, and let me know if I should edit this to add anything.
I’m pretty certain that everyone/anyone reading this will be aware of the death of Robin Williams on Monday night; he committed suicide due to long-term depression.
We don’t need to go into any more details how. That’s not important. What is important is that we talk about it; that we talk about depression, that we talk about suicide, that we talk about mental illnesses, instead of sweeping it all under the carpet.
I read a… Let’s call it an opinion piece, yesterday that basically said that, and I’m paraphrasing because I can’t find the article again to quote it exactly, that his cause of death was depression. Not suicide. It’s not often we hear people say (or write) that. In fact, it’s not often we hear of people talk about mental illnesses at all. It’s a sad, sad state of affairs when the death of a famous person makes everyone sit up and pay attention to mental health. It’s something that is so vitally important so I don’t understand why people don’t… Treat it like it matters. And that’s not right . Depression is just as much of an illness as, say, cancer. Oh yeah, that’s right; I am putting them on the same level.
There is an image titled something like “what if we treated all illnesses the way we treat mental illnesses?” – actually there’s two. One here and one here. Nothing infuriates me more than those sorts of attitudes. The same as the people who think that you have to be able to see an illness for someone to have it – I’ve read people’s stories about how they’ve been verbally assulted in car parks when they’ve taken a handicapped space because they’ve needed it, because they have… Oh damn I can’t remember… They have some form of difficulty moving or something, but because they’re not in a wheelchair or because they look fine, other people assume that they’re being selfish or lazy. To the people who think that, I say: what is wrong with you people?!
I think it might be obvious that I agree with that opinion piece.
Why do I agree with it? Well. To the best of my knowledge, a person without depression of some sort: diagnosed or not, long-term or…. Oh, how to word it… Or recently reared (as it, it recently reared its ugly head) doesn’t really think about suicide much. I know that you have to be in… A horribly dark place to think about that and an even darker one to actually attempt it. Your regular John or Jane Doe on the street probably doesn’t think about death at all unless they’re forced into it due to some reason or another.
Or at least, that’s what I think. As I’ve already said, most of the time you can’t see if someone has a mental illness. You can’t often see if someone is depressed. It’s not like they go around with a black cloud over their heads. It’s something that people very much keep to themselves because they feel like they don’t want to bother anyone around them with their stupid little problems; that they and/or their problems aren’t worth the wasting over people’s time with.
I have seen some, let’s be honest, frankly disgusting comments on the internet over the last few days, bringing religion and the devil into the discussion. I’m not going to touch that topic because it just makes me angry. Not everything is about bloody religion you know. I’ve also seen some “suicide is selfish” comments and that’s even worse because that is the exact opposite of what can go through people’s minds. Someone who is thinking about ending it all mostly believes that it would be better for everyone they know and love if they just disappeared. Or, they think that no-one would notice if they just… Weren’t around anymore. You don’t think about people missing you because you’re in a position where you think that no-one wants you around anyway; you feel invisible most of the time. Or at least, you can feel like that; it’s not set in stone.
I can almost guarantee you that at least one person you know has struggled with or is still struggling with, some form of mental illness, and it doesn’t just have to be depression. I think I personally know at least… Maybe three people. Maybe. And that’s only because at least two of them have been brave enough to talk about it, and believe me folks, that takes so much courage. It takes even more to turn around and ask for help.
To those with a mental illness: You’re not alone; you are never alone. It’s not your fault, you didn’t do anything to deserve it – you’re just wired a little differently and you can be helped. You can fight it and win. You are not a burden, please talk to someone when you need to. It’s not a bother, I promise. You are loved, you are wanted and you would be missed.
To those without a mental illness: I can’t tell you what to “look out for,” because it’s not that easy. I can’t really tell you how to help. I can tell you that you just need to be there as a listening ear if someone wants to talk (but a decent human being does that anyway) and that pushing people doesn’t often work.
Be a decent human being. Be there for people you know. Be there for people you don’t. Educate yourself. Educate others. Don’t dismiss mental illnesses; they’re not unicorns – they are much more common than you think.