My colleague Mahendra recently authored a post about mental illness that coupled with the recent suicide of actor Robin Willaims inspired me to follow suit. Williams’ death seems a tragic end to what was by all accounts the life of a great man.
My post is decidedly more personal in tone. You see, the death of Robin Williams couldn’t have come at a worse time for me. He was no personal hero of mine though I greatly admired him and thought he seemed like a genuinely nice person. The reason why his death affected me as much as it did is because he committed suicide while I was battling my own depression. Nothing makes a situation more real than death and nothing shows you how terrible and frightening depression is than seeing someone battle their demons and lose.
This particular bout of depression is about my seventh this year and that in no way makes it easier. As Yann Martel wrote “When you’ve suffered a great deal in life, each additional pain is both unbearable and trifling “. Depression is a constant battle that I’ve seen so many people lose, a battle I myself am terribly afraid of losing. Unfortunately there is a stigma attached to depression and mental illness in general that deters people from seeking help. We are told that we want attention or that we’re too young to be depressed or that we aren’t trying hard enough to be happy. The problem is people who do not know the struggle of depression have no idea how hopeless and alone one can feel when depressed. Not everyone that is depressed wants attention, in fact some people try their best to hide it. There is no such thing as being “too young” to be depressed, that is something adults say to trivialize how their children feel and when you’re depressed it’s not that you don’t try to be happy, it’s that you don’t even know how to try sometimes. People should also never forget that depression is an illness just like any other illness. You would never tell someone that has cancer to “get over it” so in the same way people suffering from depression should be given that respect that is reserved for anyone else suffering from a serious illness.
What I especially detest is how people are quick to call someone a coward for committing suicide. Only that person understands how devastatingly hopeless depression can make you feel. Having survived my own suicide attempt two years ago I understand how hopeless a person has to feel to want to take their own life and how much courage it takes to actually do it. Since that time two years ago I have wanted to a few other times but as I say I’m too much of a coward to do it again to which a friend of mine likes to point out “be happy, being a coward is the reason you’re alive”.
Depression convinces someone that they are completely alone, ironically making them isolate themselves from others in the process. I’ve been there, I’m still there. I struggle with depression and I know many people who do as well and I want those people to know that as much as you may want to believe you are alone, there are people that care. Don’t let depression control your life, seek the help you need to beat depression because make no mistake it will be a constant struggle and some days you will feel like you don’t have any fight left in you. You have to push through those days and believe that better days are coming but more than that, you have to participate in life. You cannot be a spectator in your life and expect to beat depression, you have to take an active role in trying to beat it and never allow anyone to make you feel ashamed of being depressed.
I wanted to share my personal story because I know there are many people who struggle with depression and I would just like those people to know that there are many people who know what you’re going through. Do not let depression control your life, talk to someone and take charge of your life.
N.B. Unfortunately while writing this article I tried to find out if Guyana has a suicide hotline, the number for which I would’ve provided, but it appears that at this time we do not. So instead I am posting links for various websites anyone in need can visit for support.