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.