Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nanu Nanu

Nanu nanu, Mork.
If you don't know me, you may not know the... well, the circus of things that contribute to who I am as a person and a professional. I'm a mom, a wife, a dog person (well, a MY dogs person), I identify as a member of a few fandoms (I totally ship Destiel and upset my 14 year old daughter with my vast Harry Styles knowledge), I live with debilitating chronic pain associated with autoimmune diseases, I'm tattooed, a varsity swim parent, a reader, a knitter, a depressive socially anxious introvert, and a social media professional. I know, I don't make sense to me, either.

I work for and volunteer my time, energy, words, and presence to a couple of important causes here in South Carolina. One of those, an organization very close to my heart, is NAMI Mid-Carolina. I was asked to address the Mid-Carolina facebook audience about the suicide of Robin Williams just as I had begun to peek out from behind my own feelings of oppressive grief, depression, and sadness related to the second anniversary of a close friend's suicide. So here's what I wrote. See the original on Facebook, and please give a "like" to NAMI Mid-Carolina while you're there.

By now you have heard, watched, or read reports regarding the death of beloved actor Robin Williams. On behalf of NAMI Mid-Carolina, we would like to express our horror; our grief, condolences, and deep sadness... So we open with National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 
But you're not about to read another "hey, don't do it, you aren't alone, you have so much to live for" post. No, instead we are going to tell you about how one of the planet's most beloved actors and comedians often spent his days consumed with feelings of worthlessness and fear. Maybe just like you. Maybe just like me. He fought hard to win those battles most of the days, but... today is the day that he lost that fight. I'm certain his wife and children lost. I know the world lost. Maybe this loss could have been you. Maybe it could have been me. Today it is Robin Williams. 
Chances are, Mr. Williams FELT alone, just like you or I have felt alone. Chances are he FELT as if he had nothing to live for. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder in addition to substance addictions, he often talked about using his own "one bit of crazy" in turning bouts of mania into comedy routines to make the world laugh. He drank heavily to quiet his ever-present fear. "It's just literally being afraid," he said. "And you think, oh, this will ease the fear. And it doesn't." When asked what he was afraid of, Williams said "Everything. It's just a general all-around arggghhh. It's fearfulness and anxiety." 
Today, our loss is a person we all recognize, a person for whom we all have a bit in our memories where he mattered, a person who loved nothing so much as he loved to bring JOY. This man who struggled *always* with fear and depression dedicated most of his terrified, depressive, anxious, life to OUR LAUGHTER. Does the suicide of a man who lived for joy and laughter MAKE SENSE? We submit to you that the answer is no. No, it does not make sense. It sounds like a depressive EPISODE. A TREATABLE ILLNESS.
Williams’ publicist gave a short statement with the news of his death, saying that Williams had recently been “battling severe depression”. Robin Williams made no secret of his decades-long fight for mental health, most recently seeking inpatient help last month (July 2014). 
Forbes writes: “Many people who suffer from depression report feeling as though they’ve lost the ability to imagine a happy future, or remember a happy past. Often they don’t realize they’re suffering from a treatable illness, and seeking help may not even enter their mind. Emotions and even physical pain can become unbearable. They don’t want to die, but it’s the only way they feel their pain will end.” 
It's time to talk. Talk about addiction, talk about depression, talk about mania, and TALK ABOUT SUICIDE. It's time to stop buying into the stigma that suicide is shameful and embarrassing. It's time to stop sweeping it under the rug. Tell your stories. Talk about the pain of surviving the self-inflicted death of someone you love. Talk about treating your own suicidal ideations tenderly. Talk about surviving yourself! Talk about how support and understanding mattered, matters, and is there, waiting... for all of us. 
We miss you already, Robin.

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