Let me begin this piece by offering my condolences to the family of Robin Williams. May the Lord comfort you during this trying time.
This one was a tough one to write.
A man (more specifically, a celebrity,) commits suicide. The world pauses to remember his life for a moment, choosing to reflect on the good memories.
For the most part, this is true. However, I have also seen some things that made me cringe this week. Things such as,
He was rich! What did he have to be sad about??
We shouldn’t be giving this much attention to a LOST man that killed himself!
The first thing I want to address is that depression is not just waking up one day feeling sad. Depression is a long-term, debilitating disease. It’s serious. Real depression is not something a person makes up for attention. Suicide attempts are not a sick person’s way of saying, “hey! Look at me!” Serious thoughts and attempts at suicide are a cry for help.
I get it. You’ve never struggled with depression. You’ve never been close to someone that has tried to commit suicide because they think “the world would be better off without” them. You don’t understand the disease. I understand that. But please, think before you comment on these things.
I’ve been the person that has lived with someone suffering from depression.
I’ve been the child that never had her parents at any of her school concerts or parent-teacher conferences (in high school.)
I’ve been the person that opened up her email to find a suicide letter, and thought it was too late.
I don’t know how long my parents have struggled with depression, but I do know when I first realized something wasn’t “right.” My dad lost his job when I was in middle school and our whole family dynamic changed. My mom tried to brainwash my sisters and I against my dad, and when I chose not to “take sides” my mom decided not to buy me a Christmas present. As a pre-teen/teenager that’s like a slap in the face. To this day I remember what my sisters received that year.
The next big “red flag” I remember took place in high school. My mom, sisters and I were sitting in the living room. I looked over to the kitchen where my dad was sitting, and noticed he was clutching his chest. He thought he was having a heart attack (he had had one before.) While I was calling 911, my mom decided it would be better if she just took my sisters upstairs so that she wouldn’t have to do anything with the situation. I was the one who had to list off my dad’s medications and talk to the paramedics. The point of this story isn’t that poor, little me had to do all this, as if I am a saint. The point is, that my mother didn’t. She had even told my dad, on multiple occasions over text, face-to-face, and in letters that she wished my dad was dead. She had even said that she might even “push him down the stairs” one day.
She wouldn’t say his name. It was always “fine, go with HIM then,” and “why are you talking to that THING?”
My family lived like this for years. My dad lived in a bedroom in our house, away from the rest of us. He spent a lot of time in his cave (his gazebo on our patio.) He was alone in a house full of people.
My dad thought about ending his life on multiple occasions and seriously thought about going through with it at least twice.
One time he sat in our driveway and called a help number. He was taken to a hospital for help.
Once I no longer lived at home my dad and I did not have a relationship. I was shocked in 2011 when I received a suicide note from him via email. He had sent it to everyone on his contact list. My sister had called the police in time, and he spent a while in the hospital. My sisters were still living at home.
My dad moved out of that house once he was released, and went to live with my half-sister. She blamed the home-situation. While that had a lot to do with it, the fact is that depression isn’t about circumstances.
Depression determines how a person reacts to certain situations.
You can be wealthy and still suffer from depression.
You can have the perfect job and family, and still suffer from depression.
And yes, even Christians can suffer from depression.
I don’t know what the future holds for my parents. I do know that medication can help depression, but it’s not a cure.
I don’t know if my dad will ever be “free” from thoughts of suicide. I don’t know if my mom will ever be free of all of her demons either. I used to think my mom was the one family member to suffer from mental disease, but now I look back and realize my dad suffered too.
But I do know this. Depression is a disease. It’s not a game. Sure, I feel suicide is selfish, but I know that it’s not an easy decision for some people.
Depression is like standing at the edge of a cliff, turning around and seeing total darkness.
Be kind. You don’t know what the people you meet are struggling with. Be the person to reach through the darkness and pull that man off of the cliff. Smile at a stranger. Be kind to the homeless.
Dad, if you’re reading this I hope you know that I love you and pray you will find the peace you need.
If you or someone you know struggles with thoughts of suicide, CALL THIS NUMBER! 18002738255
And please, PLEASE, don’t be that person that tells someone to just “get over it.”