Pamela K Boylan, LPC-MHSP 

Individual, Couples, and Family Therapy

Blog

Relight the Light

Posted on August 12, 2014 at 11:30 AM

So much on the news and radio about Robin Williams.

I’ve read some positive and not so positive remarks regarding his suicide: “There’s so much going on in Palestine/Gaza and other parts of the world, yet, one celebrity’s death gets more news…pathetic. Why does his death affect people so much?”

So I begin to ask myself that question. Why does HIS death affect us…me…so much? And then it hit me. Robin represented laughter. Hope. In the face of darkness. In the face of the horrible situations such as Gaza, Haiti, etc. So much sadness in the world. But one look at Robin Williams, and we saw a little glimpse of light and laughter. I’d read years ago that he fiercely battled manic depression and drug addiction. Robin was the guy that we could say, “look at what this guy is dealing with, and with all the other crap in the world, he can still look the world in the face and laugh. Even when he feels like death on the inside.”

Robin represented that light for us, when we couldn’t see it. And yesterday, he lost his battle. And when I learned that his light went out, it shook me to the core. I have a feeling many others feel this way.

As a therapist, I’ve heard these words (personally and professionally) regarding depression.

“Snap out of it.”

“You just need to choose to be happy.”

“Go to a third world country and I GUARANTEE, you’ll appreciate what you have now!” (Heck, even I’ve said this one...)

“Pray about it. Give it to God.”

If you’ve never suffered from depression, or seen firsthand the effects of it, it is hard to understand. It is a HORRIBLE disease. It is a BLACK, BLACK HOLE that swallows a person, sometimes slowly like Robin, sometimes too soon as we see in our precious tweens and teens. The blackness can take over so severely that the depressed person truly believes that the world and their family is better off without them. You might see suicide as a “selfish” act. To a person suffering from severe clinical depression, they might see it as a gift. That they would be doing their family and the world a favor by just getting out of the way. See what I mean? Blackness. A third world country can’t solve it. Neither can choice. Or dare I say it, prayer. (Before you send me hate comments, keep reading, please.) For some, suicide is not the answer. It is drugs, alcohol, sex, and other addictions that “Band-Aid” the symptoms.

Approximately 100 people die by suicide in the U.S. in a day (approx. 30,000 in a year). More people die by suicide than homicide. Depression is a disease that CAN be maintained (for the most part). Therapy, medication, meditation, prayer, spirituality, religion, love, and support are just some of the ways that the clinically depressed can be helped. I’ve seen the black holes grow smaller for some with the above mentioned tactics. It CAN work. It CAN be manageable for some, even most. Communication is key. We have to listen. To ourselves and others. We have to ask hard questions if we don’t understand. We have to do research. Suicide.org is a good place to start. Even after all that, we don’t have all the answers. Sometimes even when we’ve “done all we can do” to learn, help, support, research, etc., we lose someone to depression. I’m sure Robin’s family is feeling that now.

So what is the answer? The only one I can come up with is LOVE. Love love love. Smile and wave at the homeless man on the street. Ask the cashier about their day. Hug it out with friends, family, even strangers (if you’re into that.) It might not solve this disease. But it’s a good place to start. Relight the light.

 

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