It’s an ugly word. A word most people avoid. Right now, it’s plastered all over social media because one of entertainment’s biggest icons took his own life. I’ll be the first to admit that it took my breath away and I cried when I found out that Robin Williams took his own life.
That pain of fighting internal demons is so exhausting. This man sought to make us all laugh. He was brilliant. He was famous and successful. He was hilarious. He was always smiling. But, what was showing on the outside was not what he was fighting on the inside. Addiction and depression. Rehab and demons. That is what he was fighting. And he was tired. And no amount of money or fame could save him. That is the ugliness and the liars that depression and mental illness are.
And what hurts my heart is that it takes a tragedy before people seem to find the courage to talk about it. I talk about mental illness all the time. It’s my passion to end stigma and raise awareness. It’s my calling to tell people that it’s ok to talk about it. That it’s ok to share. That it’s ok to ask for help.
I’ve fought those demons. I do fight those demons. I know what it’s like to sit in the ICU after a suicide attempt when no one wants to even acknowledge where you are because suicide is embarrassing or taboo or whatever. I know what it’s like to be transferred to a psychiatric facility and sit alone for days on end because your “friends” have disappeared. People run to you if you are in the ICU with a heart problem or are in surgery for a broken bone. The mere mention of overdose and people run away. They disappear. Family, friends, even some clergy- I’ve experienced it all- they run away. Maybe they don’t know what to say. Maybe they don’t realize they don’t need to say anything at all.
My brain is sick. Robin’s brain was sick. I hate stigma. I hate that people hide from their depression and don’t seek help. I hate they they are afraid of what their friends will think. I hate that people are cruel and not accepting and unloving and uncaring.
Suicide is often just a desire to escape the pain, the demons, the confusion and the exhaustion. Please don’t judge, don’t make assumptions, don’t laugh or turn your back. Instead, smile at a stranger, ask someone if they need help, be there for a friend who is struggling, remind someone that it’s ok to ask for help.
And friend, if YOU are struggling, know that you are loved. Please hear me: I LOVE YOU. You can ask for help. It’s ok. You are not alone. People want to help you. I want to help you. And if you can’t find the strength to ask for help, reach out to me and I’ll be your strength. I always have strength for you to borrow. I have faith for us both. Because I’ve been there. And I’m still here because someone was once my strength and faith.
Mental illness is no laughing matter. It does not discriminate. Please reach out. Please don’t shut people out of your life if they are mentally ill. Love unconditionally. And be a little kinder today.