Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mourning Robin Williams and wondering what will happen now

I don't normally cry over the death of celebrities, but I'm a bit hung over this morning, thanks to a wonderful night out with a couple of very good friends, when we touched on old age and grief and that which lies ahead.  Yet the apparent death by suicide of Robin Williams, has hit hard, and I'm breaking another rule by writing about it.

Perhaps it's partly because he was so full of life, that it seems impossible that he's gone.  And I really do hope that he is at peace now in a better place.  Perhaps because I always adored Dead Poets Society, about the power and passion of words.  Something I get.  Perhaps because he may have died as a result of depression and addiction, both of which have touched my life in different ways.

I admitted to feeling very low last year.  I'm reluctant to say I was depressed, as I regard myself as fundamentally optimistic, but situations can take me to dark places.  There are days when I miss my Dad so much that I wonder what I would do if I didn't have three children who need my care so much.  And other days when the needs of two of them become so overwhelming and I see no hope of that changing and I feel I'm failing as a parent anyway, and I wonder what is the point of my life?  But I do find comfort, mainly from cheesy quotes from books and songs...



What will happen now?


Will friends take the difficult decision to reach out and contact those they know are struggling?

Will the often orphaned mental health services finally get the funding and support that they need?

Will his death help those whose lives look good from the outside to admit that they are depressed despite having the trappings of a perfect life?

Will people stop using the cliches?

“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”

That's fine if you're not feeling suicidal.  If you are, it may just feel like another slap in the face, as though no-one understands you at all.  And some problems are not temporary, they're long term, or they're terminal.  So please, stop saying that.

Negative things could happen too.


Will some be jealous that in death he is almost universally being praised for his achievements in life, where others contemplating suicide know that they would just be condemned as selfish when they leave loved ones behind?  Which could make them feel worse?

Will the manner of his death give others 'permission' to finally take that dreadful step that they have been considering, perhaps for years?

Will there be lots of tweets and blogs and a 24 hour marathon of on-line mourning, and then we'll all go back to talking about house prices?

Or


Will more people come forward, will they finally find the courage to ring a help-line, tell a friend, or a stranger, and find a way through the dark tunnel until they can see the light at the end.  Until they can find reasons to live and love again.

If you love someone who is struggling with depression, watch out for them in the days ahead, they may need you, or they may need services like these:

Pieta House

Jigsaw

Follow #depressionhurts on twitter

 Finglas Suicide Network

 Samaritans - which now has a new FREE phone number in Ireland — 116123



14 comments:

  1. A really lovely, and informative, post. The thing about Robin Williams is that yes he was a celebrity but he was a talented one, he wasn't just famous for tweeting photos of himself in skimpy clothes or things like that!! Also his work spanned generations, he was known by young and old. Normally I don't even know who the celebrities are that people are talking about but I knew who he was and had such a high regard for him. I'm glad you broke one of your rules to write this......and that you had a good night last night! And when everyone goes back to talking about house prices this post will still be here. xx

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    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment Joanna xx

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  2. You took the words out of my mouth.
    Heartbreaking.
    Aud xx

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  3. Thank you for your thoughtful post. I lived with a mother with depression, who tried, unsuccessfully, several times to end her life. She has since passed away. My adult daughter has "inherited" her depression and has lived with it since early childhood. It does not go away and is a demon on her back every day and all the time. She has children that I help raise, with her, but nothing takes away the demons. Medication just makes her drowsy so that she is unable to do anything with her children. Mental health issues run rampant in my family.
    Myra, from Winnipeg, Canada, where we are having a lovely warm sunny summer day

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    1. Thank you so much Myra for your comment and I'm so glad you found it thoughtful x

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  4. Brilliant post - such a misunderstood illness. X

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  5. Wonderful post but I hate to hear of people (especially very good friends) who feel so overwhelmed by all their responsibilities that they sometimes feel they can't cope and are so effected by low self esteem. It is so sad. It is so sad that they don't feel that they can turn to anyone to get help. Or that if they do it won't help?

    I don't know why things get so hard that people feel like this but clearly they do.

    And here's some things that no-one will tell you. Because it's wrong and so very, very selfish to even think it, let alone say it.
    What if someone does turn to you for help. just a listening ear. And you give them that ear, and the time and the ideas and advice to help get them back on track. But they ignore you yet keep coming back for more,and more. Every day the same conversation. Over and over again. Perhaps you live with them so it's particularly constant. And then you realise how insular depression really can be. Only they and their overwhelming problems are all that exist in the world. Which is clearly why they should talk and seek help.... but not just from anyone. They also have to accept the advice to talk to someone else who is more trained to help.

    Now, maybe I should go cry in a corner for being so mean and a horrible person.

    Or maybe a couple of us could wake up everyday, look in the mirror and say this out loud: 'I am being the best parent/daughter/son/wife/husband/sister/brother that I can be'.

    And now I feel really sad! And I feel terribly bad tha tRobin Williams has left us.

    xxxxxxx

    It's not that simple to 'ask for help', really, it isn't. It's not that easy to be that listening ear, really it isn't. It IS a very good first step but it is not the answer.


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    1. Another really truthful comment Jazzy: and you're right, the listeners also have to take care of themselves, otherwise they can get emotional burnout too. You take care of yourself xxxxx

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  6. Robin Williams was lovely and it is so sad that he has passed away. A very thoughtful post, Blue Sky.

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    1. He was lovely and complicated and depressed and a million other things, but he will never be forgotten xx

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  7. Life is complicated but I find the silence around mental illness disturbing. Like it is a shame to have it. I must admit I use the term 'permanent solution to a terminal problem' around my own children. I do so knowing they do not suffer from depression, but they do know people who have committed suicide. These children seem to have made snap decisions based on a break up of a relationship or a difficult night and ended their lives. They did not suffer depression. I also know a number of close friends who battle very hard to stay strong. I would never ever use the expression around them for I admire them hugely for the efforts they put into life. Thank you for reminding me that this does not relate to them.
    Depression is a very difficult illness, for some more than others, but in time we will all be touched by it, and success, love, or money are irrelevant.

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    1. Yes I can see how that phrase would work as a deterrent for young people and you would certainly want them to get that, the idea of teenagers taking their lives over a relationship break up or similar is just so heartbreaking and unnecessary, and you're right, it is a temporary problem, because they will almost certainly find someone else pretty quickly. Thanks so much for your comment xx

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