I don’t usually write much about what’s happening in the world of celebrity, but Robin Williams’s death really hit home. He was a great entertainer and seemed like a genuinely good person. As I’d posted in the past, he also had ADHD. My tears aren’t the only ones that fell for him, and I sincerely hope he found the peace he deserved.
I’d also like to take a moment to address the complexities of suicide. Too often, I see people say it’s a sign of weakness, a selfish act, a plea for attention or a final means of manipulation. Unless you’ve sunk that deeply into a world of hurt, it’s hard to understand the desperate longing for escape that so many people who do it suffer from.
For those who take that route, it’s the only logical step they can see.
I’ve struggled with those urges before. I truly felt as if there was no other way out. It didn’t feel as if anything would ever change for the better. Something inside told me that anyone showing affection towards me were faking it or doing it out of pity. I believed the world would be a better place without me in it, or at least remain unchanged. I wasn’t worth the air I breathed, the food I ate or the space I occupied.
Why take resources better used by someone else?
At my darkest time, I had a plan and the means to do it. I may have applied blade to skin from time to time, but I still hung on.
At first, it was just the thought of putting someone I loved through the trauma of finding my body. That graduated into realizing how much pain I’d put people who knew me through, even if I believed it would only be for a little while. People move on. People forget. I wasn’t worth remembering.
It was my curiosity that got me on the right path. My life hadn’t been easy, but it hadn’t been nearly has difficult as some peoples’. How did I get to that point? Why was I ready to end it all when others who have faced far more traumatic events wanted so badly to continue living?
I started researching thought patterns, psychology and how to change my own world view. I learned about gratitude, personal evolution and all of the amazing things in the universe we as a species still have to learn about. I also delved deeper into my personal spiritual beliefs and worked on ways to strengthen myself. I turned to writing, found inspiration in stories and discovered value in slogging my way through days of gray to find a world full of shadow and light.
I started to teach myself new skills, and stopped looking at the work of creators I admire as some unattainable thing. Instead, I pinned that level of skill in my head as something to reach for. Something to strive to become. They did it, so why can’t I?
I did it more or less alone, too. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I have a wonderful husband, who was there in silent support when he could be, as well as family and friends whose affection I relied upon to keep going. I didn’t talk about it much, if at all. It was something I personally knew I could do on my own. In hindsight, getting help from someone else could have made the trip a bit faster.
This secret inner life took place over the course of years. I still worked, went to school and did all of those things people do to stay alive, but I consciously worked on accepting and incorporating my own personal demons into something I could live with and build off of.
Most people I interacted with on a daily basis had no idea of just how hard I was fighting. They may have known about the financial and social issues, but I kept the emotional battle to myself.
That personal growth is something I continue to do today, and I have the feeling it’ll be a lifelong thing. I’m in much better shape now than I used to be. I know I have self worth, I know I can contribute to the world, and the challenges I’m faced with serve to create a new world in which to live tomorrow. Sure, I’ll die one day, but it won’t be at my own hand. Until then, rejections are stepping stones to success, low times are inspiration for creation and struggle is the way to strength.
My personal experiences have taught me to view life as a journey. It’s wild, unpredictable, and no one really knows where it’s taking us, but it’s something we each have a hand in making. I’ve also learned that at the root of growth is personal responsibility mingled with fear, weakness and emotions words can’t do justice to.
I wish I could give a cure all to mental/emotional illness, but all I can share is my story and what has worked for me. Therapy and medication has helped many people, some of them close to my heart, while the route I’ve taken has helped others. Spirituality and religion are also valuable. If you need help, seek it out. There’s no shame in that.
If you find yourself in that pit, speak with someone you can trust, or find a suicide/depression hot line to call. (National Suicide Prevention Hot Line – 1-800-273-8255) Though it may seem impossible, look for something you love about life. Even a pleasure as simple as watching clouds drift through the sky might begin to lift you out of that spiral. There are ways to endure the suffering, because there will be better times ahead.
If you’re lucky enough to have never experienced the soul killing experience of depression or suicidal thought, or if you have and are in a good place now, take a few minutes to express love and appreciation for others in your life. Hugs are wonderful things.
The world may be full of heartache today, but we can ease that pain a little in each of our lives.