Life is hard.
In amidst of everything Robin Williams related, I feel compelled to say something. While the loss of any human, famous or not, inspired or not, hilarious or not, is, for lack of a better word, sad, the more painful point here isn't as obvious.
Having struggled with my own demons for many years, I know how dark the corner of your mind can feel. When you want to scream, but your voice is silent. When you want to reach, but your hands are frozen. Depression is a huge manipulator that will twist your reality into either
a) making you believe things are worse than they are, and/or
b) making others believe you've got it all together when you effing don't.
A smile doesn't mean life's grand. A joke doesn't equate to a happy existence. More times than not, it's the funny ones, the ones who sacrifice their pain to make others smile, who are hurting more than you could ever know.
Suicide is a complicated beast. It's not black and white. If you've been depressed, you know how quickly those voices in your head can escalate. All over the web are organizations and people telling you to reach out, to call the suicide hotline, to tell a friend, to talk about it, like my fav, TWLOHA.
But the truth is, we just don't.
It took me well into adulthood to be honest with myself about depression, self-harm, substance abuse, and suicidal tendencies, and even longer to start talking about them openly. In fact, it wasn't until my 1st pregnancy postpartum my OB/GYN put me on suicide watch. It started to really sink in there was a definitive dysfunction with the chemical make-up in my brain that was beyond my control, despite my best intentions and efforts to get "better." Things would ebb and flow in bi-polar-like states, all while mimicking a completely normal person in the outside world. Throw in two miscarriages that depleted me, mounting financial woes, and rocky relationships and you've got a recipe for suicide.
It has taken years, but I know now what makes me hurt, breaks me open, kills me inside. I'm more aware of who to befriend, who to open up to, what to show the world, and most importantly:
How to love myself in spite of myself.
What's bothering me about this recent suicide isn't that his struggle was so real for so many years. It's that even if he had reached out through therapy, rehab, etc., it wasn't enough. When you're in that dark place, you don't have the state of mind to ask for help, and even if you did, who really cares enough to be a friend? Who will sit with you and keep watch, make sure you make it to the next day, the next week, be there for you until you can find your footing?
The problem is, sometimes you just never find it.
And sometimes enough is never enough which is why we turn to alternative vices to self-soothe. There are holes in our souls that, we aim to fill. And despite looking high and low, in every crack house and holy house in the world, sometimes the void doesn't lessen. It doesn't make Robin, or anyone else struggling a bad person, or an unholy person, or even a person doomed to an inevitable death.
It just makes him a real person, with a real pain, that couldn't be mended.
If you're feeling helpless, wondering how to help someone in your life, let me tell you a few things.
1) A hug helps. A really long one is even better. You know what? Just don't let go.
2) You can say "it's going to be okay," but we might not believe you. Don't stop.
3) Don't sugarcoat. Be honest. Tell them life is hard. It's glorious. It's painful. It's beautiful. The struggles are what makes them beautiful and the good times that much better.
4) Be a real friend. Let them open up to you and--get this--DON'T DISAPPEAR.
5) Shut your mouth and just listen. This isn't about you.
6) Don't write them off. The worst thing you can do, despite anything a person suffering says or does, is to give up on them. Don't ever let them feel like they're all alone in the world because that's what's already going on in their head.
If you or someone you know is going through something similar, please, email me at ANY TIME.
candace ganger [at] yahoo [dot] com
I don't have all the answers but I do have a crapload of life lived in these 32 years and even moreso, I know the struggle and I am here for you. Everyone needs someone. You don't want to reach out? I know it's hard. It's REALLY hard. Probably the hardest thing you'll ever do. But if you don't, the alternative is something I can't process. There IS hope. There IS another day.