I was woken up this morning by bright rays of sunshine flooding my bedroom. I was not awake enough to think yet and felt happy and cosy. I grabbed my phone, like I do every morning. Scanning the news helps me wake up and start the day. And there were the headlines: Robin Williams dead. And I was shocked, as if I had known him, I could not believe my eyes.
This post is not about Robin Williams. The eulogies are already everywhere and it is not my place to say anything but “The actor will be missed”. The person he was though will be missed and mourned by friends and family, and not by me. But these news make me wonder and try to understand what’s behind this wish to die. Because there are many more Robin Williams in this world, people who struggle and suffer every day and whose death might not even be mentioned in the local newspapers.
There are a few people I know… knew… who chose not to live anymore. There was this guy I met during a vacation when we were about 16. He was always funny, always the clown. I never saw him being down. When he was 18, he got into his Dad’s car and shot himself. There was this guy who was in my class in school. He was gloomy and one of a kind, but he never seemed really down. I remember running into him in the local pub and him telling me about his plans after university. He was found dead on the railway tracks six weeks later. There was this guy I knew from way back in kindergarten. He was a nice guy with a very positive presence. He hung himself in his student dorm. And the list goes on and on!
Every time something like this happened, I started asking and analysing like most people do. Why did he do that? If he had problems, there surely would have been ways to solve them! Nothing can be that bad! He was so successful! Lovesickness goes away! Time is a great healer! I have been depressed in my life, but it goes away!
Growing older I learned about different mental conditions. I experienced how powerful your mind can be during my time with anxiety. Your mind can drive you so deep into a feeling that it does not only seem real, it IS real! Luckily, I have never suffered from depression, and I cannot claim I understand what people who are affected by it go through. What I do know is that no “Snap out of it” or “Stop making a fuss” is in any way helpful! I do know how lonely you feel when every one around you sighs and secretly roll their eyes and tell you that none of what you feel is real. That you just need to stop. If it was that easy, people WOULD stop, believe me!
And it makes me furious that there are people who use depression or burn-out as a fashionable excuse for a break. I ran into my next door neighbour a few weeks ago and right after “Hi, how are you” he started telling me that he was suffering from burn-out syndrome. I asked whether he went to see a doctor and whether he was on sick leave and he said “Oh no, I am working, but I am REALLY stressed!” A former (sic!) friend told me in length about how she was stressed and overworked and then let me know that she did not want to live anymore. I tried to reach her the day after that conversation. And the day after that. I was ready to call the police when she called me back eventually. When I told her how worried I had been, she just laughed and said “Oh no! I would never do that! It’s just something you say!” No it’s not!
I think I will never fully understand what people who suffer from depression go through. And I don’t need to. I have followed two blogs lately that explain depression and suicidality very well: Phoenix – the rebirth of life and Not a Punk Rocker. If you are prone to triggers, please refrain from reading them! But I understand how important it is to listen and get help! So if you feel that someone you know is caught in depression or suicidal tendencies, get help – if must be, against their current will! And if you feel that there is no way out of your darkness, please try to reach out! Someone will hear you!
I will end with a quote by Walt Whitman. It was quoted in the “Dead Poets Society” and given to me by a friend many years ago. It has been on my wall ever since:
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”
Yours truly, madly, deeply!
All photos used in this blog are mine unless stated otherwise. Feel free to use them if you like, but be decent and link to this site!