If you are reading this, most likely you know that Robin Williams was overwhelmed by the darkness and lost his life to suicide this week. I have heard and seen many idiotic things said in response to this which I will not repeat. I have also heard a cry to bring mental health out of the closet and out of the darkness. May we please look at the pain we fear for the sake of those who's lives may be saved?
My contribution is this: my own dark secret revealed. A long time ago, I stood where Mr. Williams stood, facing a darkness I could not overcome and I could not fight alone, ready to end my life. I was not a coward and I was not selfish. I looked at my fears straight on and I considered all of the ones who I would leave behind. But I was sick and did not see things clearly. I was in a hamster ball separated from all the people I loved who loved me dearly. I couldn't see them or hear them well. I could not feel them but I did feel the darkness and I felt alone. I asked for help. It wasn't easy to ask and it certainly wasn't easy to get help. I understand the depth of the hole that darkness creates! The one that pushes people to consider taking their own life.
I am better now... much much better than I have ever been. My life is full of vitality. I have hope now. Lots of it. But I didn't then. I didn't know what hope meant then. Let's talk about mental illness, mental struggle, and mental trauma. Yet, please remember that those we are trying to help are fragile, cannot see or hear without distortion, and don't know hope. They are not cowards or selfish, they are sick with illnesses that can be treated. Hope can return. Love can heal. I know this because I am here to tell you this. As they say, there but for the grace of God go I. (I still don't understand why that grace was bestowed on me and not on others.) And I am grateful for the love and support of my family, friends, therapist, doctors, and my God!!
Good night, Robin Williams! May you feel now the acceptance and love that are indeed yours.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 800-273-8255