As I was trying to figure out what to write about last night, I checked out my facebook feed only to see the sad, sad news about Robin Williams. I couldn’t believe it, like most of you out there I was a fan. In fact, I don’t think there is a generation that Robin Williams didn’t touch through his gift of comedic genius. As I read on, I couldn’t help but find myself thinking how could this happen? Why?
I don’t mean that in the open-ended “mourning” woe-is-the-universe way; I truly don’t understand. Was he so good at hiding it that his closest friends and family didn’t know how deep his sadness was? Was he showing all the signs but no one paid close enough attention? Was this a reaction to one thing that put him over the top or a build up of things that finally came to this sad conclusion? How did it get so bad that he couldn’t see the point in living anymore, that he couldn’t find an ounce happiness or purpose in life that made it worth fighting for? Why didn’t he ask for help? Or did he?? I know that he spent years and years battling drugs and depression, and it could not have been easy (that’s quite the understatement isn’t it?), but at the end of the day he gave up, and we will never have the answers to these questions. It’s another very public reality check on the detriment of battles with one’s own self and a heartbreaking way to call attention to something that has been needing it for some time. The scary thing is, we still don’t know how to fix it, and even worse, I’m unsure that “we” can. There is ample help out there for those who need it, doctors, medications, support groups, friends, but it takes the person who is suffering to choose life. It may be a lifelong battle, it may be short term after tragedy strikes, it may be somewhere in between. So what can “we” do?
We can care. We can care enough to read between the lines of our loved one’s words and behaviors. Sometimes we can care enough to physically intervene and get someone help they need. We can listen to the uncomfortable truths of that person’s reality, and validate how they’re feeling. We can respond to people who are asking for help in their own way and not brush them off or turn them away because we don’t have time or energy to deal with them. We can give them something worth living for, we can remind them that they are loved, and we can tell them that we need and want them around. We can help them see that there is something worth fighting for. In the end, It’s got to be the person suffering who makes their own choice. It may not be our choice to make, but we can make it easier for that person to choose to fight, with whatever help and encouragement we can give.
To the bullied child or teenager, I’m talking to you. To the parent suffering from post-partum depression, I’m talking to you. To the man who spends 80+ hours a week working to support his family, I’m talking to you. To the struggling college student who doesn’t see the point of all their labor, I’m talking to you. To the GBLT community, I’m talking to you. To the suburban housewife, I’m talking to you. To anyone who has lost someone so dear, that you don’t want to be here without them, I’m talking to you. To anyone who leads a perfectly “average” life, I’m talking to you. To the one who always makes us laugh, yet is dying on the inside, I’m talking to you….. To all of you –
You are all fighting different battles, every day. Remember even when you may feel at your worst, someone has seen your best. It will not be easy, but don’t be afraid to let someone see you are hurting. They may not be able to fix what is making your world cave in, but they can be a lifeline at times when you can’t keep yourself afloat, all you have to do is choose to hold on long enough. Every. Single. Time. It’s a lot of work that I’m asking of you, I know that. I also know there is something or someone out there you will be glad you were around for.