Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Stop my brain, I want to get off; RIP Robin Williams. You will be missed.

Today our internet is filled with the very sad news about an awesomely talented man. Robin Williams left us yesterday for good and it has well and truly knocked me for six.

I am of a generation who grew up on this man. Mrs Doubtfire, Jumanji, Hook and Aladdin were regularly played on loop in our house and Marmie decided he was good enough of an influence on us, so she had this tendency of buying pretty much any film he was in, some good, some... interesting... (Toys and Jack were particularly special, I would say). As I hit my teens, he continued to be one of my favourite actors, three of his films in particular spoke to me and even, to a point, influenced my life in certain ways. Good Will Hunting was my favourite film for many years, Patch Adams gave me my first inspiration for a career, and What Dreams May Come spoke to me as I reached a point where sadness and depression had begun to creep into my life.

To this day, my all time favourite film is Hook. I can't fault a single thing about it. When I look back on his body of work, it really does surprise me how much his performances, whether serious or silly, had had a major effect on my life at different points.

Reading through my feed on facebook this morning, it's amazing to see how many people also feel the same way about this man. There is so much love for a man who brought so much joy to our childhoods and life in general. He was funny and inspirational and performed excellently in both types of roles. There's no doubt about it; this world loved him. Which is what makes the way he died all that more devastating.

I've been thinking this morning about whether, if he had been aware of just how much people loved him, he would have ended his life the way he had. I have no clue and I'm not even going to try to guess, it's not my place. However, even he had known, if he had received regular affirmation of this every day, because of the way depression works in a person, it can act as a block between positive words and the happiness they should make you feel.

I didn't know he was suffering. I didn't really look into his personal life all that much, apparently he suffered from substance misuse which I also didn't know until today, even though he was quite vocal about it. But I know that people are shocked at the level in which he could appear to be happy and bring joy to others, although all the time suffering from depression.

As horrible as it is, this surprises me less. It has also got me thinking about the stupid illness in general and all the other lives it has taken. I have spoken to countless people who suffer from depression and spend their entire lives working on masking it from the rest of the world. They smile, they move through life and even socialise, but they rarely talk about it because, put simply, they don't see how saying it out loud would make a blind bit of difference. Maybe they've tried talking about it before but it hadn't gone well or they are so stunned by how their own efforts don't appear to make any improvement on it, they can't see how someone else would be able to offer anything different.

Quite often, they don't want to impose. They know how crippling it feels for them and they look at others who are happy with envy. They want what these people have, but they can't access it so they only see talking about it as a way of bringing other people down. Besides, quite often depression and anxiety goes hand in hand and to talk about this inexplicable illness would only draw attention to it and make others worry, which will lead to unwanted attention on them and force them to make a bigger deal about it than they are prepared to do, so they try to put it all in a little box and contain it, because that seems the only way to control what's happening, and it might even work for a time, but eventually things go south and situations get worse and that little box starts to bulge and want to burst open. At this point, they might find that they are faced with a new problem. They now can no longer deal with how they are feeling but they have spent so much time and effort convincing others that they're fine and the life and soul of the party, no one's actually going to believe them should they come clean and say it had all been a lie, or if they do, they won't realise just how bad it's got because no one can be that sad and yet appear so happy at the same time.

The truth is, quite often the sadder some people with depression get, the louder and more outlandish they appear. The need to seem happy and well becomes the one thing to live for. There are people who are scared of coming clean about how they feel because they don't want to upset people or because they simply don't know where to begin. Maybe their brains tell them that there's no point, bad thoughts, dreams and negative influences play on loop around their heads. They can't focus on anything because their brain is so distracted by what depression brings. It builds and builds and suddenly they think that there is no other way to silence it other than one. One final decision and that's the only option they have left. They can't last one more day this way, it's too much. They've tried everything and nothing seems to work. The thought of having to live their lives this way for any longer is excruciating, so they decide to stop altogether. It will release them from it. It will stop the bad thoughts and the emotions that bog them down even though they have no reason to feel them. Death is the way out and they won't have to suffer any more.

Guys, if you feel that way, please realise that there is no illness too severe, no emotion too big that means death is the only option. Sure, it will stop you from feeling any more negative feelings, but it will also stop everything else. You have no clue what your future holds for you, things could change at any moment and, with a little help, you can find release another way, a way that not only stops the sadness, but also shows you the other side of the coin.

I say this because I speak from experience. 12 years of depression and I never thought I would find a way out. I got dangerously close to giving up but somehow got nudged into getting help instead. I did CBT therapy and last year I came out the other side. I never thought I would know what it was to live my life without depression, but I have for a whole year. Please, please, please always choose help over dealing with this alone. People around you love you and care about you and want to help you. You have potential for great things in your future and you don't want to miss out on it.

The very nature of depression is all consuming and tells you that you won't ever recover. As with most mental illnesses, it stops you from being able to think about it rationally because it's the brain that is the infected part. No matter how many times you might think it, don't believe it. Believe that you deserve more than that, because you do. If you're suffering, find someone today and tell them. Contact help from the Samaritans possibly (08457 90 90 90) if in the UK, or alternatives in your country if elsewhere. Please don't ever think ending your life is the answer, because it never is, no matter how tempting it might sound.

Also, if you know of someone who is depressed, please remember that patience is needed with them. Chances are they know how little sense their emotions make as much as you do, it doesn't make it any less easier to solve. It's not going to be fixed in one day, it's going to take time.

Depression might not be something that you are able to control if you have it, but suicide is. You always have the option to say no. Please choose it, because people aren't ready to say goodbye to you yet.

I love you all deeply and wish you all the happiness in the world.

Peace out my lovelies.

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