Depression and suicide have recently touched the family of a good friend. Robin William’s tragic death this week showed that severe depression affects even people who you might think are better able to get help either due to their fame, connections or bank balance.
Depression can affect everyone.
I used to think people who committed suicide were incredibly selfish, only thinking about themselves and not caring about the aftermath left behind. Perhaps being a minister’s daughter I saw more of the aftermath of death (in general) on families left behind a bit more than the average person. But more probably it was because I couldn’t empathise with depression sufferers.
Now when I hear someone make a ‘selfish’ comment, I just think that person has (luckily) never suffered serious depression.
After Sofia died, I came dangerously close to the precipice. How close, is something I don’t like to think about now; it’s better to focus on the fact that it’s now very very far away on the distant horizon.
Severe depression doesn’t just envelop you, it smothers you. Smothers to the point where it won’t let anything else in. It won’t let you think about anything else. Or anybody else. It’s like a cancer eating away at your whole being.
On top of that is the debilitating sense of no longer having control. You feel hopeless, helpless and overwhelmed. The depression is in control, not you. This is a Catch-22 – you don’t see how you can regain control and it’s difficult to believe how anything can change the situation.
Even if you do manage some positive changes your low self esteem will make you excessively self-critical. It’s too easy to put a negative spin on things, belittle your achievements or even put it down to luck. You might not even feel worthy of getting better.
Thoughts of suicide can arise when your future seems even worse than your awful present; you feel that life is simply not worth living. But going back to the loss of control, there’s also unfortunately a ‘positive’ feeling to suicidal thoughts. Deciding to take your own life is an act you DO have control over and from this perspective sadly I can understand why some people choose it.
Returning to Robin Williams, here was a man who gave so much laughter and joy to others while he was battling severe depression. In his daughter’s moving words, “one of his favorite things in the world was to make you all laugh.” But where were HIS clowns?
These thoughts are just from my personal experience of suffering from depression and PTSD.