When I heard Robin Williams had killed himself, I was overwhelmed with emotions. Sadness because I’ve adored this talented genius since I was a kid. Shock because I had no idea he had severe depression. Anger because all over social media, people were saying he was selfish for committing suicide.
It made me realize how depression is still so misunderstood. And it made me want to speak out now more than ever. I’ve struggled with this debilitating disease my entire life. Every day is a fight. Every. Single. Day.
Depression feels like you’re in a deep dark hole where you can barely breathe. No matter how hard you try, you can’t climb out of it, and you keep slipping down. You feel weak. You feel like your mind is beating you up. You feel like you’re suffocating. It feels lonely. It feels hopeless. It hurts.
This isn’t just someone having a bad day or a bad week. When you have depression, the feelings do not go away. They linger and make it hard to function. When you’re deep in that dark depression hole, it is impossible to think clearly. And it can feel like it’s not possible to go on living. Suicide may seem like the only way to stop the pain. Not because you’re selfish, but because you are not yourself. You have a serious illness. You have a brain disorder. You are sick.
When I heard about Williams’ tragic death, I felt in the pit of my gut that it could’ve been me. If I hadn’t gotten help. If my treatment didn’t work. For the past two and a half years, I have been in therapy, fighting to crawl out of that dark hole. To find air. To survive. There were many times when I thought things would never change. That this was just how it was going to be forever. I didn’t know how much I could take.
It’s been a long and hard struggle and I am finally feeling okay; sometimes, even pretty good. But I could not have gotten this far without help. So please, if you have depression, know you are not alone. Ask for help. And if you know people who may be depressed, reach out to them because they may be too weak or too proud to come to you. Encourage them to get help. Know the signs.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
The earlier you start treatment, the more effective it is. I’m making it through this fight. You can too.