Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Conversations with the Voices in my Head

You know, Robin Williams...

Everyone seems to be having some sort of opinion on this. From those who want to criticize because suicide is "selfish," to those who are jumping to defend by lumping all mental illness together.

This is just another example of how we, as a culture, all hurry up to halfway act when something strikes our fancy and as soon as the roar dies down, we'll all forget this was ever a thing.

But it is, right now. It is a thing. So I've got some things to say about it:

  • I didn't get it when Michael Jackson died or Whitney Houston. I just wasn't that attached. I haven't really fallen apart over Robin Williams, but I get it, now. He wasn't just a celebrity, he was a personality and one that I kinda thought I sorta knew. I kept thinking about the guest spot he did on Louie and how I thought that was a better explanation of comedy than anything else, ever. Lonely and off kilter.
  • Suicide isn't selfish. I mean, yeah, if you're the one left behind, it is. But if that's the case, having cancer is selfish. Being in a car wreck is selfish. Suicide is just another way that our loved ones leave us. It's the end result of a fatal disease. Period.
  • On that note, though, not everyone with depression is suicidal. I'm not. I haven't ever been. I have this over-developed guilt complex that means that no matter how bad it gets, I'll think it's my job to suffer so that no one else has to. That's just how my neuroses stack up. But please, don't just assume everyone fighting depression is fighting to the death. There are degrees. 
  • But don't assume that someone isn't, either. Just, you know what, how about we stop assuming anything about another person's thoughts, feelings and mental state. Would that be okay? 
  • Don't tell people to get better. You don't tell someone with any other chronic illness that positive thinking and cute cat pics will solve their problems. (I do note that some people do this and if you are an equal opportunity asshat, go right ahead.) There is no way for your brain to cure the chemical imbalance in your brain without help. There just isn't.
  • If you've never thought the world would be better off without you, I want you right now to stop and realize how lucky you are. If you pray, say thank you. Because you just don't know. Don't think that you can imagine it. Don't think that there's anything else comparable. 
  • Go hug everyone you love. Tell them that you love them and you can't imagine the world without them. Tell them you need them and that they are important to you. And then listen. Let them talk. They might say something that scares you. Don't blow it off. 
So, that's it, my thoughts on Robin Williams. Now, go watch Dead Poet's Society, or The Birdcage. Just avoid Patch Adams. 


Suze said...

I'm astounded by how often I hear people who really should know better say things like, "I don't understand why he/she has so many problems with [insert mental illness here]. He/she comes from such a good family/has so much potential!" As if trauma is the only way to explain when someone has depression or anxiety. That's exactly what mental illness is, a reaction to the world that isn't rational. I'm fortunate not to have experienced depression or anxiety myself, but I'm close to many people who have, and I know that the stupidest thing you can say to someone who is going through it is, "Cheer up!" or "Don't worry so much!"
Anyway, that's my long way of saying yes, thank you for this post. It's good advice.

Jessi said...

Suze - Thank you. I know a lot of people like that too and it always surprises me.