“Many who try to bring joy to the world are often the same people who fight a great war within themselves. Every fight lost is a tragedy.”

LOFB - AbbyThe death of comic genius Robin Williams spawned thousands and thousands of (well-deserved) tributes and blog posts about not only his career and his life, but also his mental health struggles.

I don’t want to read them.

I don’t want to watch them.

I don’t want to hear about depression and opinions from people who just have no clue.

That’s selfish, but I don’t want to deal with it because I live it every day of my life, a life that I’ve questioned the value of more often than I care to admit. While I would like to think that I would never go to that extreme, I’ve thought about what the world would be like if I were no longer in it, if I could never get “better.”

Because of that, Robin Williams’ death wasn’t surprising to me. Tragic? Yes. Surprising? No. Addiction and depression are equal-opportunity destroyers, regardless of age, sex or class. And the thing about addictions are that they’re all just a slow suicide, no matter your weapon of choice.

So why do some people make it while others lose the fight? I don’t think anyone knows.

What I do know is that for me, it’s not about lack of resources, because if I want to get help there are a million places to get it.

It’s not about people not doing enough to help, because I know you have to want and accept that  support in order to pull yourself out.

It’s also not about attention. My dark thoughts aren’t about death but rather the fantasy of finding some peace—any peace—to quiet the storms in my head.

That probably doesn’t make sense, but I wrote a piece for Huffington Postabout my OCD that I never shared on this blog because I didn’t want to be misunderstood. Plus, sometimes I just don’t want to deal with that reality.

But it is reality, and so are suicide and depression and all those things I don’t want to read, hear or talk about a lot of the time—all those things I am forced to think about all the time anyway.

Yet that’s probably part of the problem.

After Williams’ death I posted that quote above on Facebook and linked back to a post I wrote on depression.

The response was huge, both on that older post and to the simple quote. People sent me emails sharing their stories, and someone commented, “Thank you for things that you write. You have a medium where you can reach out to other people and truly help them with your own experiences.”

Whether he liked it or not, Robin Williams had a platform to talk about mental health, and maybe in some tiny miniscule way, so do I–whether through humor or sharing my struggles. If nothing else, I need the support myself on most days.

Of course, there’s no magic cure or easy answers. But what there is is support if you accept it, people who care and a dialogue about mental health that has been reopened up with another loss of life.

This time it wasn’t you.

It wasn’t me.

And if it was, it’s safe to say the whole world wouldn’t be mourning our passing. But somebody would. Somebody cares. And every fight lost is a tragedy.

Keep up the fight.

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LOFB - NoaI heard it perfectly described the other day when someone said, “Does anyone one else feel like they lost their favorite uncle?”

Robin William’s death hit me harder than I anticipated it to. I didn’t know him, I never met him, but I felt so much like he was someone I knew, someone untouchable by sadness or overwhelming feelings of worthlessness. He was a miracle of a human being.

He killed himself.

For a large part, the social response was positive. It focused on reaching out, on knowing that depression is a silent killer. Knowing that his family and friends are dealing with immense pain and loss. On the idea that we can learn and grow from this, in some small way.

A good amount of people, however, described him as being selfish.

Selfish that he killed himself.

Selfish that he could put his family through so much pain and anguish.

Selfish that he felt like he could remove himself from this world, when he had no right.

Let me tell you a story.

Earlier this year, I took a trip with some friends, and I was horribly fucking depressed. I had never been so low, and I have seen some dark fucking places. I was miserable from beginning to end, but I tried, so hard, to put on a face of happiness. This should have been a great time, should have been the trip of a lifetime.

The honest truth was that it was where I was going to kill myself.

That sucks to write, but it’s the truth. It was the only way I could do it where my husband wouldn’t have to deal with it, which was my final condition. I was ready. I thought I was relieving the world of my personal awfulness and uselessness in my decision. I thought it was the last kind thing I could do.

A friend stayed by my side that entire time. She never, ever, left me alone for a moment. Even when I showered, she was in the next room. I had no time alone, at all. I never walked anywhere, sat anywhere, ate anywhere, shopped or traveled anywhere alone. She didn’t really ask me if I was ok, she just…never left me.

It pissed me off, because I couldn’t do it in front of her.

Towards the end of that trip, I didn’t see a way where I could accomplish what I set out to do. So, I sent a text to my husband as a last ditch.

“I need to see a therapist.”

“Ok. I didn’t know you were low.”

“I am. Really low. I need help.”

“Whatever you need.”

And I came home, and I got help, and I feel better now than I ever have, and am still working. I went on medication, I do talk therapy a couple times a week. I didn’t kill myself.

My friend annoyed me into living. Looking back, she probably knew I was on the ledge, even subconsciously. I thank her silently every single day.

When you are that low, you are thinking of your friends and family, but you don’t think your death will harm them, you feel like your death will free them of you. You feel so badly about yourself and your circumstances that suicide feels like the last kind thing you can do, BECAUSE DEPRESSION FUCKING LIES TO YOU. 

You are not in a headspace to recognize truly selfish decisions, because everything feels selfish. Breathing, eating, existence. In that moment, you don’t feel like you deserve anything. Love, respect, kindness, and life. Killing yourself feels like freeing the world of yourself.

THAT’S A FUCKING LIE, but it is only one you can see when you are healthy. You can only see the larger effects of suicide when you’re not on the ledge. When you’re not depressed.

So, I’ll say it here: TELLING SOMEONE WHO IS DEPRESSED THAT THEIR ILLNESS AND WISHES ARE SELFISH ONLY HARMS AND PUSHES THEM FURTHER TOWARDS THAT END. To put such negativity on someone who is already going to kill themselves is deadly, and THAT IS SO FUCKING SELFISH OF YOU TO DO. 

Want to know if someone is depressed or suicidal? Ask them. Don’t leave them alone. Their depression is telling them that they’ll burden you if they tell you their problems. Prove them wrong. Don’t leave them.

Want to know if someone cares that you’re depressed? Tell someone. Tell them you want to die, because even sharing that out loud will at least cause you to evaluate whether or not you really want to. At least, then someone knows. At least then you’re asking for help.

Depression is an illness. Suicide is a product of it.

Cancer is an illness. Weight loss is a product of it.

One is selfish, the other is sickness.

If you need help, if you’re on that ledge, try one last time to ask for help. Just one more time is all I ask. You may surprise yourself.

If you know someone who needs help, or are questioning if they do, ask them. You may save their life today.

I love you all.

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NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE:  http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/  
1 (800) 237-8255
 
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS:  http://www.aa.org/
 
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES:  http://www.mentalhealth.gov/
PARENTAL STRESS HOTLINE: 1 800-632-8188
 
NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE:  1 (800) 799-SAFE
 
S.A.F.E. (Self Abuse Finally Ends):  1 (800) DONT-CUT

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LOFB - JenShe finished cleaning up the last of the dinner dishes; scraping plates into the sink and wrapping the leftovers as she shook her head over what was left on the table.  Why do kids go from eating everything in sight to picking at their food like supermodels during Fashion week?  Her husband puttered about the house, unwinding from another busy day at work, and inquired about her head.  In the last few weeks she’d complained of headaches…stress-related, most likely, as a result of being a stay-at-home mom of two active little boys, ages 6 and 2.  She also hadn’t been sleeping well, but what mom of little boys does?  She finished cleaning the kitchen, then grabbed her car keys, giving a quick goodbye to her husband and children as she popped out to run some evening errands.  Climbing behind the seat of her SUV she glanced in the rear view mirror to see a tired but beautiful face.  Brushing her blond hair away from her eyes, she drove to the gas station where she fueled up and quickly called her mother to say hello and tell of the children’s latest escapades.  She then headed to a nearby RiteAid pharmacy where she purchased some trail mix, a bottle of Gatorade, and a package of over-the-counter sleeping pills, no doubt to help with her latest bout of insomnia. Returning to her car, she then shut off her cellphone and perhaps sat for a while…or perhaps not.  Perhaps, at that moment, there was no further need for introspection.  Pulling out of the RiteAid lot, she proceeded down the road — a road she’d no doubt traveled countless times to soccer games, PTA meetings, pediatrician’s appointments — except, this time, she drove on.  She drove past the schools and the shops and the homes. . .she drove to a wooded area, not far from a local park.  She parked in a secluded area.  And then, as her husband and two small children waited at home, she went to the trunk of her car, pulled out a rope, and hung herself.

Her name was Jennifer Huston.  She was 37-years-old.

For the last week, the city of Portland, and — I dare say — the country as a whole has been wondering ‘why?’. Why would a beautiful, loving, seemingly happy wife and mother choose to end her life?  But for a small percentage of us. . .we understand.  We nod our heads and say ‘Of course.  It’s only logical’.  Because we know.  We know what it’s like to be held in the clenching jaws of depression and feel that the only way out is. . .out.  I know.  I’ve been there.  I’ve walked through the aisles of Target, eyeing the sleeping pills like a desperate lover; I’ve googled ways to hook a hose into my car to asphyxiate myself in the garage; I’ve driven over myriad bridges in the Portland metro area thinking ‘Just a turn of my wheel…that’s all it would take’.  And it isn’t just me.  I know others.

*The corporate attorney who spent hours writing and rewriting her will while popping Ativan.

*The stay-at-home mother of three who cut herself silently in the school bathroom during PTA meetings; silently praying she’d hit an artery and bleed out.

*The ultrasound tech and triathlete who stockpiled her daughter’s ADHD medication thinking ‘Just in case…’

*The elementary school teacher who sat awake for hours with her son’s Cub Scout manual, practicing noose tying and testing the tree limbs in the back yard for strength.

*The dear friend who woke up with a bottle in his hand and a pistol in his mouth, not giving a shit which one killed him first.

We no longer cared.  Like Jennifer Huston, we all fell silently into depression’s waiting arms and said ‘F#$% It. . .I’m done’.

But then. . .we didn’t.

For some of us, we found sobriety.

For some of us, we were found out in the nick of time and taken to a safe place by loved ones.

And for some of us. . .well, some of us. . .we just thought. . .’but maybe’.  Maybe if we just wait one more minute, one more hour, one more day, we might just make it.

In A.A. we have a saying. . .*

*Well, actually, we have a shit-ton of sayings, but this one isn’t so cheesy it makes you want to stab kittens.
…we say:  “DON’T QUIT BEFORE THE MIRACLE”.  And that…that is the hardest thing of all to believe. . .that there is a miracle.  Because oftentimes the miracle is disguised as something seemingly horrible like divorce or illness or job loss or a DUI or a bad haircut, or whatever.  But that’s just it. . .it’s the “whatever” that makes you stop.  It’s the “pause and ponder” moment in your life where you reevaluate, regroup, and reassess where you’re headed.  But it’s there.  The miracle is there.
I wish the best for Jennifer’s family, but most of all, I wish that Jennifer knew that I was with her at the end.  I was there.  My friend who hoarded her daughter’s medication was there.  The women at my A.A. meeting were there.  My many friends who stood at the edge of the chasm were there.  Because we all survived.  We all stuck out for the miracle.  And even though Jennifer did not find her miracle, and even though she probably felt hopeless and alone that day, she was not alone.  We were there.  We were holding her hand and saying “I get it…I hear you…please find peace”.  We may not have been able to save her, but I hope she felt our spirits guiding her home.
You are not alone.
You are never alone.
Don’t say “F@#$ it”, say “I choose to live”.
Please, please, PLEASE, don’t quit before the miracle.
PS:  There is help.  Please, if you are feeling like you’re at the end of your rope, contact one of these agencies below.  Or contact me.  I’m here.
NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE:  http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/  
1 (800) 237-8255
 
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS:  http://www.aa.org/
 
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES:  http://www.mentalhealth.gov/
 
PARENTAL STRESS HOTLINE: 1  (800)-632-8188
 
NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE:  1 (800) 799-SAFE
 
S.A.F.E. (Self Abuse Finally Ends):  1 (800) DONT-CUT

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LOFB - NoaI have never really gotten anything done exactly right. I manage to fuck it up somehow.

In the last month, I have:

  • Torn a muscle in my calf, requiring rehab and bandaging/bracing
  • Broken a toe on a bathroom wall because I didn’t see it
  • Broken a toe at a bar on a chair because I didn’t see it and also was not drunk yet.
  • Gotten my car broken into because I parked in a super-scary place
  • Gotten in a shouting match with two strangers because they were such dicks you guys

I am a human disaster. I fuck things up all the goddamn time.

And I hate that, mostly. I hate screwing things up because it means people are mad at me, for whatever reason. I hate screwing things up because it means I’m not perfect. I hate screwing things up because it means, deep down, that I don’t have the kind of control over my life and circumstances as I like to think I do.

In short: I’m just fine.

I’m totally fine. I screw things up all the goddamn time and that doesn’t just make me normal, it makes me good. It makes me want to work harder, want to be better next time. It makes me realize that everyone screws up, and that we need to be a little easier on each other if we’re ever gonna really grow at all.

It makes me grateful for the things I have in spite of all the times I’ve fucked up, and because of them as well.

We’re gonna fuck things up. Some little, some big, some life changing, some so insignificant you’re really the only person in the entire world who knows you did it. Mistakes make us human. Mistakes make us great.

And even though it’s hard to cop to mistakes sometimes, isn’t it more important that we’re good people who acknowledge our mistakes and learn instead of wallowing in the pits of self-loathing?

Fuck it, I’ll do better next time.

Fuck it, I tried.

Fuck it, I learned.

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