I'm going to be honest, you might not want to read this post because it talks about depression, and death, and telling people that you love them. I hope it isn't too dark, but I'm aware that it might be. So I thought I'd warn you in advance.
Like most people, Robin Williams' death really knocked me. But it wasn't because I love his movies, or because he made me laugh, or because he seemed like a genuinely great person. It was more selfish than that. It was because it was another reminder that it never leaves you — "it" being the horrible sticky darkness of depression. The same reminder hit me when Phillip Seymour Hoffman died, and when Ned Vizzini died, and when Alexander McQueen died, and . . . you get the idea.
It's really easy to forget that just because someone is doing great on the outside, it doesn't automatically mean they're doing great on the inside. Depression doesn't care if you're famous, or rich, or have the most amazing family and friends around you. It doesn't even care if you're happy. Rob Delaney wrote a great post about being a very happy and optimistic person in general, who has been hit by severe depression and spent every waking hour considering suicide.
He posted an email to his tumblr last night which included the words: "Depression hates the sunlight of attention, it hates people helping each other, and it hates people telling the truth about how they feel."
Depression is still so often seen as a stigma rather than a disease. Suicide is still so often seen as a weakness, rather than a lost battle against that mind-controlling disease. We need to change those views because they're wrong, plain and simple. A disease of the mind is exactly the same as a disease of the body. It needs help and treatment to heal or at least be manageable. The reason it's not seen that way is because there's a lack of education and honest discussion about it.
It's not easy to change such ingrained views. It's incredibly hard to understand true depression if you've never experienced it, and it's incredibly hard to explain true depression even if you have experienced it. Both are made more difficult by the continuous misuse of the word depression. If you're not depressed it can be easy to assume people are exaggerating or even making it up. If you are depressed it can be easy to assume that no one will take you seriously, or that they couldn't help even if they did.
But like Rob Delaney said in the rest of his email, we need to "kick it's c***ting teeth in by doing what it hates, everyday."
So the point of this post is if you are depressed get help, in whatever form you can, and if you're not depressed then be available to help. If you know someone with depression keep trying; send them a text, give them a call, and try to hang out with them. Don't give up if they bail on you or make excuses. They're not being a dick, I promise. If you don't "get" depression there's a book called Darkness Visible by William Styron, which is one of the most accurate descriptions of the indescribable that I've read.
If you are depressed the sooner you get help and start talking about it the better. If you're not sure who to turn to, or aren't ready to talk to your family and friends yet, there are plenty of organisations who are there to listen. I personally hate talking on the phone, and it took me 15 or so years to talk to my family and friends face-to-face about my feelings because I was too scared. But one of the great things about the internet is that it's erased those barriers.
You can chat with someone via IM at www.imalive.org
And you can email The Samaritans at email@example.com
Last night I drew some lyrics from the Kimya Dawson song Loose Lips. I've somehow managed to train my brain to play that song in my head whenever I start to sink to my lowest. They feel like good words to end this post with. No matter how dark things get, there is someone out there who feels this way about you.
And if you feel this way about someone, tell them.