One week ago today, I spent another day in bed capsized by the recurring depression I’ve shared so often here. However, this particular day will forever stand out to me. Around 6pm, my daughter came in to tell me Robin Williams, one of our all time favorite performers, was dead.
I immediately googled the details of his death and was devastated to learn he took his own life. Like me, Robin Williams suffered from chronic depression. Like me, he spent years strung out on drugs and alcohol, probably self-medicating his mental illness as I did for far too long. Like me, he pasted a giant smile on his face out in the world to cover his inner demons.
I pray that’s where the “like me” comparisons will end.
When I finished reading through every news outlet’s coverage of this horrible tragedy, I padded downstairs to cuddle up next to my husband on the couch. I knew the time for me to reach out had come.
I shared with him about the death of one of his favorite actors. My husband can quote Robin William’s infamous roles in “Good Will Hunting” and “Dead Poets Society” verbatim.
I then shared with him the scariest part of the suicide of this man we so admired. The part where I understand what drove him to do it. The part where I “get it.”
I absolutely get that feeling of hopelessness. I get his desolate search for a way out, any possible way out…
Those of us who battle mental illness usually do it for life. Even medications, therapy, reaching out… don’t always bring full recovery. Many of us begin to “wonder if it’s worth it.”
Adding the overwhelming addiction element to it only adds to our pain and desperation. Robin relapsed in 2003 for 3 years after almost 2 decades of sobriety. I relapse almost every day with food addiction issues after 15 years of abstinence from alcohol and drugs. Different drug, same immense feelings of extreme dependence.
Relapses and the shame brought about by those experiences only add to the hopelessness of mental illness.
We will never fully understand why a man seemingly still in the prime of his life and career would choose to end it all. Some of us can relate to aspects of his pain, but I hope to never fully understand those last desperate moments he spent clutching to life.
Robin Williams shared advice on the social networking site, Reddit, for someone going through a difficult time:
“Reach out to friends.
They’re out there.
And know that you are loved.”
This was from his “Ask Me Anything” thread less than a year ago. Oh how I wish he would have heeded those incredibly astute words in the final hours of his struggle.
I created this space for us- the broken, the healing, the struggling, the recovering… I hope we form a community here where we can share our wins, losses, needs, love… Over the past month, I have been nesting, enjoying time with my family, and honestly dealing with my own mental health issues.
I’m hoping to get back now to building our place here, where we can come during those alone, desperate, or hopeless moments and feel encouraged. Thank you for continuing along on this journey with me as I sometimes need to disappear for a brief period to relax and refill…