The recent passing of Robin Williams took a huge toll on the world and has sparked many different conversations. While death isn’t easy to talk about, the topic of suicide is even harder to discuss. I’m no expert in mental illness, nor do I really feel qualified to be writing this right now, but I’m going to do it anyway.
Mental illness almost seems taboo in today’s society. Like it’s one of those things that everyone knows goes on and, obviously, has the potential to take peoples’ lives. But we all refuse to believe it’s actually happening right now at this very second, and every second of every minute of every hour after that. It’s probably happening to the person next to us, and we don’t have a clue. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about mental illness growing up. I thought those “scary” kids hanging out at the mall dressed in all black was pretty much the worst of it. Then I really grew up and realised that I was so unbelievably wrong. About a lot of things.
There was an organisation I had heard a little bit about called To Write Love on Her Arms. This was probably in sixth grade? I was 11 or 12 years old when I started educating myself on the horrible things people could go through in life. I was still pretty young and naive at the time, so I didn’t totally grasp it for what it was exactly. It wasn’t until I was around the age of 17 that I really understood mental illness- because it was happening to me.
I began waking up thinking awful things about myself and things around me and just life in general. It was confusing to me because I used to think that things like depression and anxiety/panic attacks happened to those kids who wore black all the time. Like I said, I was so wrong. I became this completely different person, and I was scared. I was scared of myself. And I was honestly scared of everything for a long time.
And here’s the thing: I had not asked to be this way. Who would? Seriously, who wants to walk around with a gloomy, grey rain cloud above their heads all the time. I didn’t wake up that morning and choose to be plagued by mental illness. It just happened. Do I know why, nearly three years later? No. Do I wish I knew why I had to be this way? Uh, you betcha!
It truly saddens me to know that there are people in this world who think mental illness is a choice, and all the repercussions of mental illness are choices that person can make. Mental illnesses, such as depression, interfere with your ability to think rationally about the simplest things in life, including life itself. So, no, it wasn’t really a choice Robin Williams made to end his life, it was a mental illness that took over every bit of logic in his mind. And to be frank- that sucks. It plain old suckity sucks that that happened.
Experiencing depression firsthand, I can say that it does get better. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time and an infinite amount of patience with yourself to get there, but you will. It’s a tiring journey and you’re going to need people to hold you at times and people to keep you moving. Everyday is a new battle, and it gets exhausting after a while, but the feeling of conquering even the smallest things is a victory no one can take away from you. Like for me, pressing send on a text message to an old friend the other day was huge, and so is writing this. But you and me? We’re going to be okay.
If you ever need help or feel like things are getting to be too much, call a friend, reach out to an old teacher on Facebook (I know you’re friends with them), or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255. Anything to keep you here.