Caveat and trigger warnings: Talk of depression, feeling suicidal, also I am fully aware that this does not apply to every depressed person out there, so if you choose to reblog, please feel free to add why my examples might not work for you. And what might work for you. Or don’t. Nobody is obliged to explain or justify their feelings. And please, let me know if this is hugely problematic in any way. Thanks.
So, Robin Williams. I’m still at a loss of words. We pretty much all are, I guess. And yet, there’s been so much talk. About the sadness of the funny. About how someone who seems to have it all still takes their own life. About mental illness and more specifically, depression. So. Much. Talk.
And it’s made me so incredibly angry.
Because it’s always just talk, isn’t it? And it always happens after the fact. All those cries to be kinder to each other, to pay attention to one another, to taske care of your loved ones and be nicer to strangers - they only ever happen after we lose someone. And then, a few days later, we’re all back to our “normal”, cynical selves. Here’s an example, a bad one maybe, but still: Today, I was wondering why Spanish soccer player Fernando Torres was a trending topic on Twitter. Turns out he’s had a sucky preseason and somebody made a compilations of his missed chances at scoring. Which was being shared, shared and overshared again.
Look, I get it. We all like to laugh at failure if it’s not our own, don’t we? (I try not to. I try.) And I’m not saying Fernando Torres is suffering from depression or other mental health issues, I’m just saying when it comes to not kicking people when they’re down, our memory capabilities are, well … we put Dory to shame.
And of course it’s the same thing with news everywhere, we all should be caring about a lot more issues than we do, but it’s out of sight and out of mind, and I fear that this is exactly what will happen with the death of Robin Williams.
We all got up on our tables. Which was a beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul. But now it’s time to climb back down and do something for those for whom it is not too late. Yet.
Reach out. Now. And I don’t mean the depressed, even though that’s the advice Robin himself gave on reddit. I want the non-depressed to reach out. I want you, I want us to look around and take note of the people in our lives that may need help. Some of us talk openly about our depression, others don’t - which is their prerogrative and don’t you dare question that. However, you know that there is someone among your loved ones that is down in the dumps right now. You know it. You do. And I am completely aware that talking to someone whose soul is in pain is one of the most difficult things in life. So many things could go wrong. Chances are they will. But still.
I don’t want you to go full-on intervention. I don’t want you to be a replacement therapist. You don’t even need to say anything.
Just do something. Bake a cake. Check their Amazon wishlist. Send a care package with, well, anything really. Send an e-mail, send a postcard, send a text. Offer a specific kind of help if you are certain they’d appreciate it. Look after the kids so they can get some time off. Ask them if they need anything if you’re going shopping anyway. Heck, even a cup of coffee might do, being able to sleep in, anything.
Just be careful: There is no Depression with a capital D, we are all different. Some of us, like me, hate it when they’re asked “Is there any way I can help?” or when people say “I’m here if you want to talk!”, because it puts the burden of decision on us, and having to decide something is a surefire way for me to get massively anxious when I’m depressed.
I know it’s hard that every depressed person is different and there are no miracle cures or tips that help all of us. But you know the people in your life that might need a little happiness right now. Put in a little effort and work out what might bring them a moment of joy without making them feel guilty because of their disease, without making them feel that they owe you something, without making them consider themselves a burden.
Not going to lie to you: You might not succeed. Like I said, every depressed person is different, and some of us can manage to turn every kindness into something we don’t deserve and feel bad about it (me again!). Don’t rely on what Google tells you are helpful hints to deal with someone suffering from depression. Because honestly, if I hear one more “You need to go outside more!” or “Exercise helps!” or any other suggestions one keeps finding on the internet, I am going to hulksmash something. I know these things. We know these things. But you’re placing a burden on someone who might already feel like the world’s pain is on their shoulders and like everyone would be better off without them.
But try. Please. Let us know our existence is not in vain. Let us know you care without expecting anything in return. Yes, “we are all loved”. But how about showing that it’s not just a phrase, once in a while, simply because you want to?
Reach out. Now. Thank you.
(And do it again in the future. Not just when somebody dies.)