Today is “National Suicide Awareness Day” (or National Suicide Prevention Day depending on what you have read) and it’s been a bit disappointing to here the lack of talk about it. Granted we are in the middle of a pretty furious news cycle with ISIS, Ray Rice and the 13th anniversary of September 11h all coming up; so there’s a lot going on in the world.
But I thought it would be best to bring up my personal experiences. I’m not really good at this in all honesty but sometimes it’s part of the healing process to just bring up what troubles you.
When actor Robin Williams committed suicide, I watched my Timeline fill up with remembrances, tributes and condolences/prayers to the family. You heard people ask “why” and also people go “let this be a reminder of the issue of mental health”.
I was a bit different. Now, I’m not an expert. I do not know Robin Williams and for me to play armchair analyst of his psyche could be considered an insult to his family, loved ones and psychiatrists in general. But to me, I understood. I was sad obviously, and I was never really a Robin Williams fan, but something about it made me feel like I knew him. I didn’t quite feel like I was looking in a mirror; but I felt something. Almost like I was on the same wavelength or at least had a fraction of an understanding why this occurred.
Depression I always thought was a vague term. People assume depression is sad. They assume it’s maybe even anger. You hear the commercials and you hear the symptoms such as malaise and a lack of interest in your usual activities which makes it sound like a phase.
I think we all have our problems. I think we all have different ways of coping. I think we all could use a non-biased professional to talk our issues out over.
But I’m undiagnosed. I’m just me.
So here’s where I begin. I believe depression is acting. I believe depression or mental illness (on a much more bigger scope) is almost acting. Not that it’s fake, but I feel fake.
I’m a genuinely pretty happy person. I’m not really someone that stares outside the window like in the commercials or cries myself to sleep like the unfortunate stereotype of depression. I’m more of a blank slate.
When I find something I enjoy, whether it’s something as simple as a song or as complex as U.S. foreign policy; I almost become manic. I need to know every lyric, every move made, every little bit of progress and hear every cover by every band or artist. I immerse myself completely into that hobby. I write about it, I discuss it, I literally pour my heart and soul into it.
When someone isn’t the same way, I get frustrated. Not at them, but at me. You feel secondhand embarrassment and then you come down on yourself. But then I find another hobby and I repeat everything again. Look at my blogs, you can see when I’m fully invested into it as opposed to when I take a back seat to it.
When I watched Robin Williams do everything, I saw a man that put his heart and soul into it. When I hear Ian Curtis of Joy Division sing, I feel his lyrics. I hear the devotion, I hear the care, I hear the complete sensation of being locked in.
Then I realize what happens when sometimes it goes away. I’ve put my heart and soul into a few things that have recently ended. College, old jobs, relationships amongst other things. They all have kind of ended at once and now I’m home in Jersey wondering where the next step is.
The thing is, my mind is not engaged and therefore; I quit. I didn’t give up on it; it just kind of all left me at once. So I’m still in that phase where I want to be a captain, or a good friend or a person that immerses themselves into the things they love. I want to be part of it because that was when I felt like me. I miss a title. The intern, the boyfriend, the captain, the leader, the drinker, the laughter, the rah-rah guy in the huddle. I don’t like being the (insert).
So then you find vices. For some it’s drugs. For others its alcohol. Some others have less lethal ones such as writing, painting, really anything that you can keep your mind off the fact that you just can’t get over it. With Robin Williams, who I need to keep going back to; I genuinely felt like there was the fear of failure and maybe losing relevance with the guilt of finding vices. That’s a horrific judgement for me to make but that’s how I perceive it because I know the feeling. At least that feeling.
I know I’m bungling this as I’m not being very consistent and forth telling. But I guess that illustrates how hard it is to really explain what happens. It’s hard to explain who I am.
But others don’t get that. “Talking” is sometimes the most painful thing for a person to do. You don’t want to be perceived as a sad sack. However, one talk never really figures it out. You always catch yourself thinking of new things that you wish you would’ve said in the earlier conversation. I’ve been on the other end. I know what its like when someone keeps constantly talking to you about their problems and you just want to say “get over it”. It’s human nature.
However, all environments are different and that’s why human nature isn’t a really phrase that matches up. Nature isn’t simple.
The one thing I wish we could all do is shut up. If we all listened or made ourselves open to listening, the world could be a better place. Put yourself into another person’s shoes, of course they want to talk. Sometimes they want to SCREAM. But you don’t want to rain on the parade and hell I’ve been there before too. Sometimes you just want to break down. Sometimes you just wish that person WON’T break down.
Suicide is never the answer as much of a cliche as that is. However, I can never guarantee that your life will be the most blessed one on this Earth. There will be horrible things to happen. There also will be great ones. But if you aren’t around, you don’t get that chance to have the possibility of it getting better.
When I was in middle school, I was a bully and the bullied. I just didn’t know how to do it. I was part pain in the ass, part quiet kid in the corner, part joking kid that no one laughed at (that part hasn’t changed if you ask some) and part athlete. I was the best soccer player in our gym class but was the second-to-last pick of all the boys my age in sixth grade. I was the kid that sat with younger kids at the lunch table, partially because I was awkward but partially because what the fuck else was I to do. I sat with kids who weren’t my friends and just begged to be accepted. It’s a hard sell because I’m not being the person I am. I am much more confident now though, once I got that fresh start that some others just don’t get.
Depression is acting though. It’s putting on a face, it’s playing a role that isn’t you the person. It’s part acceptance, part not accepting. It’s an illness. Not a mood. It afflicts everyone. The jock, the comedian, the singer, the artist, the sad one, the angry one, the conspiracy theorist, the believer, the atheist, the theist; you name it, they got it.
All you need to say is, I understand. All you need to do is listen. A five-minute chat can help but it won’t change the course of life. It takes time.