Written: August 2014

Robin Williams (1951 – 2014)

 

Earlier this week, we learned about Robin Williams’ untimely death, apparently by his own hand. Immediately, a number radio and television talk show hosts (national and local), as well as a few “high-profile” people, took to the airwaves and social media to criticize Robin for taking his own life, throwing around words like “selfish,” “thoughtless” and “coward.” One Seattle-area talk show host even said that he could understand someone committing suicide because he/she had no access to mental health care or treatment, but couldn’t understand how someone like Robin Williams, who could afford to pay for treatment, would resort to suicide instead. (Note: this is not a direct quote, but pretty close).


Meanwhile, others  rushed onto social media to express shock and sadness over the news, and to share their favorite memories of Robin, along with which of his many film roles resonated most strongly with them. They also shared their own struggles with depression or experiences with friends and loved ones they had lost to suicide. Some posts were extremely brief – a line or two. Others were long enough to be considered blog posts.


What happened next is astounding.


People who shared their struggles and experiences found response after response from others who had faced similar struggles and experiences; or words of encouragement from those who have never known the suffocating pull of depression. Some responded by sharing their favorite uplifting quotes, or a simple gesture, like the word “Hugs” or a heart symbol (<3). 


But they responded.


Since Monday, Facebook has been one global “group therapy session.” People have been surprised to learn some of their most successful colleagues and  friends have faced demons ranging from addiction to depression to failed suicide attempts. They’ve learned some of the personalities, artists and musicians they respect most have lived with the heartache of losing a loved one. However, everyone who shared a painful secret learned one important thing:


THEY ARE NOT ALONE.


Below, I’ve re-posted some of the most touching status updates and posts from this week (with the posters’ permission).  If something resonates with you, please feel free to share it. If you feel like joining this conversation, please use the “comments” section below.


IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU LOVE IS HURTING AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO, CALL THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE: 800-273-8255


No matter how much you’re hurting, please know this:

  • You are loved and needed by someone, whether you realize it or not.
  • You are surrounded by others who may not have walked in your shoes, but want to hear your story and find ways to help you regain your footing.
  • And most importantly:  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.


A few Facebook posts that generated much conversation and incredible sharing:


Jon Horton:

So we have come to a time in our society where suddenly everyone is talking about mental health issues. It took someone we universally love, to become the victim, before the public at large, takes notice.

Look at your Facebook feed. Yes that one that defaults to the Top Stories instead of the one you really want to see. Post after post has a picture or scene or quote from Robin Williams. Many people are screaming for people to acknowledge that Mental Health is to be taken seriously.

For some of us, it’s a daily reality. Whether it is depression, or bi-polar, or anger, or anxiety, or pondering ending the pain like Robin did.

Awareness… It takes a celebrity committing suicide to make us look inside as a society, all the while never considering that stranger, acquaintance, buddy, best friend, soulmate, may be in just as much pain, just as much fear, just as much closeness to the edge, may be in the same situation.

We all need to be there for each other… Mental health situation or no.

If someone who brings such joy, is in such pain, something is wrong.

We need to ask ourselves, are we kind? Do we consider others before we consider ourselves? Do we focus on others instead of the person in the mirrors?

If you have the bandwidth, to use today’s term, to reach out to others, why don’t you? Are we scared that we might catch something? Are we afraid that the person might make a negative difference in our lives? Or consider, the fact that we might be the difference in saving one.

Be kind to one another. Don’t be afraid to listen. Don’t be afraid to share.

And if you, yourself, is the one in pain… Don’t be afraid to share your feelings. Just telling one person can be the genesis of change… The beginning of the healing… The start to the journey.

We only have one life. Take care of yourself. Take care of the ones you love. Take care of each other.

The smile you see may be the cover for intolerable pain. See beyond the smile. See the person. Be there. Tell them they are never alone.

Because, as Robin said, the fear we express is the fear of dying alone, when, instead, our greatest fear is that those around us will leave us feeling alone.

You, are not alone.

Meg Jarrell:

Reading many of the posts from my friends the last 24 hours has been hard. I’ve seen words from so many people I l care about that have struggled with or continue to struggle with depression that it seems to be everywhere. My heart breaks for them, but I’m trying my hardest to see the bright side of the equation too. The side that applauds their bravery and honesty in sharing their fight.

So instead getting sucked into my sadness, I’m working hard to find hope that when they face darkness, they will know they’re not alone. The hope that if I can help, they’ll be brave enough to reach out and let me know. And if I can’t, that they find someone who can.

When did life get so hard?

Kevin Miles:

Depression is often a tunnel of overwhelming despair that is too long and too dark to see the light, even if you know it’s there.

If you know someone you care about who is in that tunnel, don’t assume you know the depth of their pain.

Do everything in your power to help them get the help they need and do everything you know to make sure they know they matter.

Michael Keeves:

I Am A Safe Place. 


I declare that if any of you need to talk or fear you may be dealing with depression, I am here for you. I am a safe place. 


I encourage all of you to declare this. 


All we have is each other. 

#Iamasafeplace

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