O Captain, My Captain


I am hardly the first to write a post about the death of Robin Williams.  Two days ago the brilliant, fantastically funny and talented actor committed suicide at the age of 63.  It’s been plastered across the media with virtually no pause in the onslaught.  And it’s definitely been on my mind.

Like Williams and countless others who have ‘come out’ since his death, I also suffer from depression (and anxiety).  It’s been an issue all my life.  It may be built in, or it may be situational (some situations last a long time!), but whatever else it is, it can be debilitating.

I won’t go into the standard lecture, everyone has heard it already.  Depression is a disease, depression is like a trap, it is a dark, heavy second skin.  Depression lies, depressions wants to kill you, why don’t people have as much sympathy for people with depression as they do for people with cancer?

All that is true, of course.  But it’s also incredibly, incredibly frustrating.  There’s only so many times that you can hear “If you’re sad/struggling/facing dark times/etc. Get help.  You are not alone.”

Which is fucking bullshit.

I’ve been on the edge of that cliff, staring down into the abyss while it stared back at me.  It looked pretty damn inviting. I reached out to someone close to me.  We were arguing at the time, but we were close enough that I thought for sure they would still respond.  I mean, who wouldn’t when you tell them you’re close to losing the fight?

I received no response to my multiple messages.  They were too busy running errands.

Valid reason or not, when you want to disappear, when you want to die, there is pretty much nothing worse in the world than reaching out for help and getting no answer.  Nothing.  It’s fucking horrible.  Everyone always says after a suicide like this “If only they had talked to me! I would have tried to help!”

Easy to say after someone is gone.  I mean, how do you know they didn’t *try* to talk to you? Maybe you were too busy washing dishes or watching a movie, or just didn’t feel up to talking.

Personally, I would rather not reach out and deal with my issues alone, than risk finding out that no one can or will help me.

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to get some help from professionals, but that wasn’t easy either.  Mental health services are incredibly expensive, and even when you have insurance, the coverage is limited.  Once upon a time I was paying $600/month to see a therapist once a week for an hour.  The next one was limited to 8 sessions, which we didn’t even finish because at session 5 we were “clearly done here.” I’ve settled in with a new therapist for 20 sessions, and it wasn’t a sure thing that he would even take me on.  Whether it was because I was too messed up or not messed up enough, I’ll never know because he did finally agree to see me.

It shouldn’t be this hard.  It shouldn’t be this hard to live, and stay living. Would you say to a paraplegic who had fallen out of their chair to “pick yourself up!” or “Get help!”?  Of course not!

Then again, given the reaction to Williams’ suicide, maybe a fair chunk of you *would*.

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