The Frisky Fairy Rants: Mental Illness and Robin Williams


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I know that this doesn’t necessarily deal with sex, but I believe it is incredibly important to discuss. When we die, there is often a note about how we died that gets attached to our stories. Those pieces of our lives, of our deaths, will continue follow our stories around. The way we died can be far more fascinating than the way we live. It’s understandable, I suppose. Humans are by nature curious creatures. I believe that humans are also creatures that can exist and adapt through great struggles. I also believe that humans do what they can to get through the hardest parts of their lives.

Some people cry through the pain, and some laugh. 

I’ve always been a “laugh-er”. I laughed when I found out I had cancer. I laugh off my depression. I use snark and sarcastic humor when I’m scared or hurting. I make jokes so that I can laugh through the pain. I joked with a friend of mine today that there are so many comedians and performers with mental illness because the only way you can get through the dark places is with humor. I joked about this because the funniest people I know have all dealt with depression in their lifetime. I joked about this because today, I was hitting a low point in my depression. Then, not 4 hours later, I find that Robin Williams is dead of an apparent suicide.

One of the funniest, most brilliant people on this planet is dead of suicide.

Wikipedia notes that suicide:

is the act of intentionally causing one’s own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair, the cause of which is frequently attributed to a mental disorder such as depressionbipolar disorder,schizophreniaborderline personality disorder, alcoholism, or drug abuse.”

If the cause of suicide is mental illness, why on earth don’t we label it as that? “Succumbed to mental illness.” Why is that? Why is it that we keep such a clinical label on suicide when it is linked so often with mental illness? Why don’t we tell people that someone “died of depression”? I believe it keeps us distant from the idea that someone would be hurting so badly that they would feel the need to “give up”. The idea that someone gives up their life, and that the act of giving up is cowardly. That nothing is that bad. That nothing is so hard that one should give up their own life.

I believe that the idea that someone is “giving up”, or “cowardly, when they succumb to mental illness is such a dangerous, pervasive thought. It means that people think that giving in to depression is cowardly. It means people think that asking for help to survive is cowardly. Asking for help is not cowardly.

NEEDING HELP IS NOT FUCKING COWARDLY.

What is cowardly, is making people who are struggling to survive, struggling to function in their daily lives, struggling to find a reason to live every single day, feel as though they are not deserving of help. Cowardly is making people feel as though they don’t deserve to be loved, or to be helped. Cowardly is making people feel as though the issues they’re struggling with are not important. “It’s not that bad”, “There are people who have it much worse”, “It could be cancer”, and “Just get over it already” trivializes the struggles of people who are already kicking themselves for the fact that they feel depressed as it is.

 

A bingo card full of the things people say when you're depressed.

A bingo card full of the things people say when you’re depressed.

What is cowardly, and unfortunate is the fact that there are people out there who are afraid to ask for help because we as a society have failed them by making them believe that they are weak because their brain chemistry, something they cannot even help, is attacking them. I’ve said it before, depression and anxiety are like cancer of the emotions. You can treat the cancer, you can even put it in remission, but for many people it will always be there, lurking in the corner. Some people will treat their depression and anxiety and go for the rest of their lives without any more symptoms, never needing to seek treatment again. Some people will be battling their disease for the rest of their lives.

I spent much of my adolescence depressed. I spent much of my adolescence trying to figure out what was wrong with me and why I was so unhappy. I have a checkerboard of white scars on the insides of my arm, the sides of my stomach, the arch of my foot. I remember the first time I took a knife to my skin. I was 14. I remember how cutting my skin was the only thing that could calm me down and make me breathe. I remember the lies I told people. “I was scratched by my cat”, “Stepped on broken glass”, “cut on boxes while I was moving”. No one ever questioned it. No one ever asked me what was wrong. No one ever knew, and the few people I told, told me I was seeking attention because I hadn’t tried to kill myself.

I was officially diagnosed with anxiety and depression when I was 18. I had a therapist put me on a medication that left me feeling as though I was in a fog. The only reason I even went to see a therapist was to get a psychological clearance for a surgery. I wasn’t “crazy”. I didn’t want anyone to think I was “crazy”. I didn’t want anyone to think that I was weak or helpless for seeing someone about my depression. I was in denial that I even had depression or anxiety. I thought it was just how people felt. I was scared, I felt helpless, I felt broken. 

Even now, I have a hard time accepting when I need to see someone to help with my depression or anxiety. My road to recovering has been incredibly rough, and it is exhausting . It’s hard every day, and sometimes I’m terrified that I’m not going to ever be better. I have been lucky enough to have people in my life that care a great deal about me. Loved ones that make sure that I practice self care, and ones who make sure they care for me.

Today, we lost a great man, and a great entertainer. It’s easy to get swept up in that fact. It’s easy to forget the fact that this man, was a man that millions of people loved. Millions of people read about. This man had millions of people watching him, and no one noticed until it was too late. Not all of us have millions of people watching us. Some of us go through our lives without a diagnosis because we are scared, or hurting, or downright ashamed to need help. Don’t wait until it’s too late. You’re not a coward, and you deserve to be here. You deserve to get help, and you deserve to

You don’t deserve to just survive, you deserve to live.

O Captain! My Captain!

Rest in Peace, O Captain! My Captain!

Until Next Time.
-The Frisky Fairy