Broken crayons still color, but the death of Robin Williams I believe hit us all by storm.
Who didn’t know about this wonderful man? Even my children utter lines from his movies. But, suicide? WTF?!?!
Severe depression. I remember watching the news when he passed, a segment called “Remembering One of the Greatest”, a panel of experts analyzed everything from how many times he’d been in therapy to the many different kinds of substances he was addicted to…and then alas, the conversation around his “wake up call”, the death of his great friend John Belushi and the birth of his daughter. Let me tell you something despite the obvious: Depression kills.
As a high functioning depression sufferer I teared up and nodded my head because I understood. Depression isn’t something you can shake off with a cold shower in the morning, you can’t pray it away (Lord knows I’ve tried) and there are only so many pills you can pop that don’t make you feel like you’re going even more bat shit crazy than you already thought you were.
The part that non-sufferers still don’t get is that it’s an illness that carries so many negative stereotypes, that sufferers live in shame and fear. Until something really horrible happens.
The signs are there…we leave trails. And while we all have days were we feel blue, for a depression sufferer there is no blue and there is no gray area…there’s only black. The thought that immediately follows that is that if we were out of the equation (out of the way of our families, our colleagues, etc.), our loved ones would be better off.
Sure, that may sound dramatic and victimizing…but I am here to tell you that point blank: that is what we see. Depression is at it’s all time high, specially here in the US and over 80% of diagnosed patients are untreated. Turns out that only 60-80% of cases are treatable and it costs around $22,000 to do so.
If it were that simple, we would not be hearing about depression taking lives of great actors, stay at home mothers or complete families being wiped out by someone’s untreated mental illness.
If there is one thing I can leave you with today about all of this is that depression has a familiar face. It looks like mine, it may look like your spouse’s, your neighbor, or even your child.
Let’s drop the judgement about mental illness and maybe together we can drop these numbers to zero.
The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255)