Thursday, 14 August 2014

Be aware of scars you can't see

As a rule, 'celebrity' deaths don't usually get to me. They're sad and all, especially so when they're young and they leave families and children behind, but because I don't know them, usually it's a fleeting feeling of sadness for their family and I don't think much on it afterwards, I'll usually get on with my day. Robin Williams however has affected me differently, it's sad, it's a horrible shock and it's scary. It's scary because his story is one that is so easy to relate to, the sad clown. What's even scarier is that so many of us can relate to him, so many of us have this outer self that we show everyone else and only those closest to us know differently - so many of us suffer with depression or any other mental illness and it's something that the media overlooks, it's something that people still say 'well, why don't you just try cheering up?' or 'try to be more positive!' or even 'what have you got to be depressed about?' Clearly, those people are blessed  to not understand how depression, or any other mental illness actually works - or they're overcompensating who knows? 
Depression, to me at least, is like getting in a car and having it not start. No matter how many times you turn the key, or how quickly, or even how determined you are to get the car to fire up that engine - it won't. The more you try to get the car to start, the more angry, or frustrated or hopeless you feel about it not starting; you can't start the car, you are a useless person. You can't start the car, what's the point? The car needs a mechanic, but instead of going to see a mechanic you're blocked by people saying 'well, that car's a Ferrari, it should start!' and 'Ah you don't need a mechanic, you just need to go fill the engine with petrol and it'll be fine' when it won't be fine, because somehow the engine fell out. And with people telling you how silly you are for seeking someone else's help, and that you can do it by yourself, you try to fix it yourself, and the more time you spend trying to fix it, the more time you're spending not fixing the problem at all, because this one you just can't fix by yourself.
I saw a lot of comments yesterday from some very lucky people who haven't apparently been affected by depression, and therefore feel like they can pass judgement on someone's darkest final act. I saw comments saying that suicide is the most selfish act, and it made me wonder how many people believe that suicide is an easy way out. I honestly can't imagine a harder thing, genuinely believing that your death would somehow be better for your friends and family, that the world would be better off without you in it. I know that I have felt that way in the past and it's horrible, there is not a worse feeling I can think of - to look into oblivion and to welcome it despite knowing everything you have to life for and not caring? It's really, really hard and I know I wouldn't wish that on anybody. As sad and as shocking as Robin Williams' death is, let it be one that raises awareness of a horrible illness rather than judging his final actions. Mental illness kills, you just don't see it on the outside.
If you know someone, or are someone who is depression, or someone who is showing signs of depression, don't let people tell you not to get the help if you think you need it. If you need someone to listen to you there are so many great sources out there now, including the Samaritans who have helped me lots of times when I first started struggling with my mental illness. Please don't hesitate to do something before it gets worse.

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