*WARNING: This is a very long post*
As a person battling depression, hearing the news about Robin Williams hit me particularly hard. I’m 28 years old so I was lucky enough to experience Robin through Mork and Mindy re-runs, before he became immensely popular in the 90s and grew into a legend. Robin Williams will always mean a lot to me and a lot of people not only because of his wonderful, one of a kind talent, but also because of his fighting spirit against depression and addiction to narcotics. He tried to self-medicate with hard drugs which made things worse for him in the long run.
Apparently he killed himself, and I’ve already seen negativity based on that alleged fact. The man was 63 years old and had been through a hell of a lot and his heart seemed to finally say, enough.
This is the issue I have though, because as I sit here, hurt and upset, I’m more frustrated than anything. I’m sick of seeing people with so much potential, realised or underdeveloped, have their light extinguished way before their time.
It’s taken me a long time to realise that the majority of what we’re told about self-worth is wrong. I don’t believe it’s something we have to build up to-WE WERE BORN GOOD ENOUGH. We are all born good enough, and what is happening is that the self-worth we were born with gets chipped away. We constantly compare ourselves to other people, as if by looking at their lives on TV or Facebook is the full picture. The amount of rich and outwardly beautiful people who have committed suicide should tell us that’s all a fallacy! But we still do it, we let the intense glare of a person sitting across from us on a train ruin our whole day, when we had no idea what we they were really thinking about. It might not have been about us at all. We let comments that people make, who barely think about what they say, weigh on our minds the whole day, week or even month. We dissect what they said and add extra meaning to it. We create scenarios that never occurred.
As a person living with depression, I’m acutely aware of how it changes your mindset. For some people, depression feels normal. It’s happiness that feels temporary, and when things are no longer wonderful, somehow a little bit of our heart or soul or whatever you want to call it is chipped away. People with depression usually tend to live in what Stevie Wonder called, a ‘Pastime Paradise’, we stay reminiscing about when things were good; the familiar theme song of a TV show, the smell of a particular cake you liked or the sound of a jump rope hitting the ground can transport you back to a time where you thought you had no worries. And then, you come to realisation that it’s not real, it’s not tangible. What is here and now is only you.
And you look in the mirror and wonder who the hell you’re looking at. You wonder why you didn’t hit the goals you set for yourself, however realistic they might or might not have been. You wake up in the morning and put on your best clothes to go to school or work, you have a spring in your step and you think you look great.
Until you catch a glimpse of other people, people who in your opinion, look better than you. People who you think you should look like. Then, the next time you look in the mirror, you no longer like what you see, instead all you see are faults, things to pick at. It gets so bad that when people compliment you, you think they are trying to patronise you, or worse, they are trying to sabotage you.
I used to suffer from agoraphobia, and after my uncle died, I refused to leave the house. Instead, I stayed in front of my computer and read nothing but the news. All I saw was people dying, people getting raped and people suffering from institutionalised racism and it made me want to stay inside even more.
It actually took me taking up a language to make me want to leave the house again. Because for the first time in a long time, I felt useful again. A lot of us folks living with depression have the issue with feeling useless, and feeling like a burden. It’s one of the most common reasons why such folk choose to take their own lives, because they feel like they are actually doing the world a favour.
To anyone suffering from depression and feeling suicidal, do me a favour and listen to me:
You were born with a light inside you and you were meant to be great. Great as in whatever you’re gifted with (and we all have gifts, trust me) you were meant to be able to use it to do SOMETHING. Don’t let a person who has snuffed out their light get close enough to you to put your light out. The day your father’s sperm hit your mother’s egg, you were good enough. You have NOTHING to prove to anyone. Do whatever you want, for yourself.
May Robin Williams rest in peace and may his family get all the peace they deserve.