I’ve come to the conclusion that moms are the only people who can fold fitted sheets. They must teach them at the hospital before they leave. How to breast feed and how to fold fitted sheets.
Robin Williams’ suicide brings to the forefront a devastating disease plaguing society. Everybody knows, is friends with, or is related to somebody who is dealing with or who has dealt with depression, whether we’re aware of it or not. Much of the time, we don’t address it with the person because it makes us uncomfortable, we don’t want to deal with the ugly truth, or we’re afraid of offending them. And many who suffer from depression don’t address the issue with others because they’re afraid of exposing themselves, appearing weak or damaged, or because they think nobody cares or can help. But they can, and they do, so reach out.
I’m speaking today not only as somebody whose life has been touched by suicide more times than I care to count, but also as somebody who has suffered from depression. I first became aware of my depression in college after my grandma passed away. I think it was pretty obvious to the people who cared about me that I wasn’t ok. Most reached out at some point, some didn’t. I don’t fault those who didn’t - it’s not an easy conversation to have. I would insist that I was fine, but then go hide away in my room for hours. I let personal relationships fall to the wayside. I let my studies slip. I let my physical and mental health decline. Maybe I didn’t want to admit to myself that something was wrong, that I wasn’t whole. With the help of those who did approach me, I finally admitted to myself and to them that I needed help. I spoke to counselors and eventually went on medication to treat my depression. I will have to cope with my depression forever - talk about it, treat it, and hopefully live a full life. But it’s something I do willingly because I see how much better life can be because I reached out.
Why am I saying this? Why am I putting myself out there in front of anyone who reads this? Because I care about you. If you’re depressed or feeling empty or not like yourself, talk to someone. It doesn’t make you less of a person, it doesn’t make you weak. Quite the opposite. It takes a lot of strength and bravery to face depression head on and admit that something is wrong. Do you think I’m weak or less of a person because I got help? Even if your depression never leads you to suicide, is how others perceive you (or how you THINK they perceive you) really more important than your happiness? More important than you living a fulfilling life? More important than your dreams and hopes? It took me a while, but I decided it wasn’t, and today I’m living a fulfilling life, have a successful career, and maintain personal relationships that mean the world to me. And you know what? Nobody thought less of me. Reach out.
To those who aren’t suffering from depression but know somebody who is, talk to them. Tell them you’re concerned and want them to be happy. Tell them you love them. Tell them you’re there, that you’ll listen, that you’ll be there for them through it all. I promise, it will matter to them - it may not seem like it, they may deny it or even get angry with you, but it will matter to them. You can’t help them if you don’t reach out.
Unfortunately depression is a horrible, horrible disease, and we can’t save everyone who suffers from it. But instead of counting the lives we lost because of it, let’s count the lives we saved by talking about it. Let’s count the lives we saved by letting people know it’s not something to be embarrassed about or ashamed of. Let’s count the lives we saved by asking someone if they need to talk. Let’s count the lives we saved by smiling at people we pass, by asking someone how their weekend was, or by saying thank you and making somebody feel appreciated. Sometimes it’s the littlest things that make the biggest difference, and you may not ever realize it, but you can help make that difference. You can’t succeed if you never try. Please, reach out.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255