My father texted me about Robin Williams around 7 pm last night, as I got home from my new job. I actually thought it was a hoax at first. Several google searches later, I realized it wasn’t. Since I’m in my early 40’s, he’s really someone we grew up watching. I even met him on the set of The Survivors in 1982, when they shot several scenes at Edelman’s, where my father had a part time job. He actually wasn’t very nice to me (but it was 1983 and it was the height of his drug use). Walter Matthau and Jerry Reed were sweethearts. But I digress.
Robin Williams suffered from depression and allegedly ended his own life. I’ve seen good social media posts about getting help with depression and social media posts that simply talked about his movies and how much joy he gave them. Both are correct and natural reactions. But it hit closer to home than I would have liked and frankly made me very uncomfortable.
I have a history with depression also and I did make a suicide attempt when I was 17.
Now I didn’t succeed (obviously) but I did try to harm myself. I don’t really want to go into it, but things were bad at home (I’m actually hoping my mother doesn’t read this – it had nothing to do with her). I was really hurting at the time and it still hurts to think about that time in my life.
Fast forward to my late 20’s. Depression hit again. I was functional, I could get out of bed each day and teach school (and do a great job), but I would come home and just fall apart. I slept a lot and wasn’t happy. I had a major career shift the year before and I was finally on a good track, yet things were still not perfect for me. I felt like things were just “black” and bleak. My roommate knew this, my best friend knew this — but it took my brother to really help me. I was seeing a therapist at the time, but after a day out with my brother, he begged me to go on depression medication.
It was that bad. But this time, I didn’t think of suicide at all — I was just really depressed. There is a big reason why suicide was never on the table again — I knew someone who committed suicide (when I was 24). It’s not my place to tell her story, but it decimated the people around her. I vowed that I would never do that to my loved ones, even if I was hurting inside (cue the dramatics, right?)
But for me, in my own case, going on medication really helped. I felt that had nothing to lose by trying medication. And it made things much better. The cloud lifted. Fast forward another couple years. I met my husband, got married, and then went off medication before I wanted to start a family. I knew I wasn’t cured, but I wasn’t depressed.
I was worried about postpartum depression, since I did have a history of it, but luckily I was okay (except for a few random “blue” crying days). Fast forward to 9 years and 3 kids later. Sometimes I feel the darkness bubbling up, but I can’t stay in bed and just sleep. I have kids and a husband who depend on me.
If you’ve met me, you may be surprised by this. You may say, “But you always seem so happy?!”. Depression has nothing to do with that.. I was and still am pretty happy most of the time. It just can come on suddenly, no matter what’s good in your life. So, right now I self monitor. I’m aware of how I am feeling and whether or not I’m situationally depressed or if it’s more. Since I went off medication, it’s been more situational that chronic.
I’m okay right now, but if I’m not — my promise is this, I will do something about it.
And if you see someone who’s struggling, encourage them to see a therapist (take them yourself if they’ll let you). Medication really can help make them feel better. Therapy can make them feel better. And feeling better is the goal. There shouldn’t be a stigma for seeking help, it should be applauded.
Thanks to Joyce Evans of Lake Worth Macaroni Kid for sending me this # (she saw it on Scary Mommy).
24-hour Hotline National Suicide Prevention Helpline: 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK).
Read Deborah Cruz’s post on this at http://www.scarymommy.com/robin-williams-suicide-leaves-me-terrified/
Edna Guerrero says
Depression is scary and real. I too went through a similar thing with depression. I too tried to commit suicide. No everyone is as lucky as you and I to seek help. Glad you are alive and well to talk about it.
thank you so much for sharing your story as well. I think you’re very, very brave.
Liz Barnett (@WomanlyWoman) says
I’m with you, lady!!! I also have a history with mental health issues including depression. I wrote a post this morning as well. I invite you to join us on #StigmaFighters!
The Mama Maven says
Thank you Liz!
Nancy, I am so happy you opened up about this. You are right, I would never have suspected, you of all people, would have ever had any issues with depression. On the other hand, I am glad you discussed this openly because a happy person can be depressed. As you said, it can come on at any moment. Who would have every thought the funniest guy around, Robin Williams, would have had such a thing? It just goes to show, never judge a book by its cover. People should not feel ashamed by having depression. People should reach out and get help. xoxoxo
The Mama Maven says
Thanks Esti. I am touched by your words.