Breaking silence

I’ve always wanted to believe in a world that makes sense.  But it doesn’t always.  A person who is kind doesn’t always get rewarded.  A person who is cruel doesn’t always see the error of her ways.  And even if a person is loved and lauded, he may still decide that the pain is too much. 

I found out about Robin Williams’ suicide on Monday; several weeks ago, I found that an acquaintance had ended her life.  I’ve seen both sensitive and insensitive comments in the aftermath of these suicides of what their decisions meant.  In Williams’ suicide in particular, I’ve seen comments about depression and addiction.  I’ve seen the mental health community rise up and stand up to media to say, “no, he wasn’t a coward” and “don’t call what he experienced his ‘demons.'”  Depression is a serious condition.  I want to hope that these discussions will lead to more awareness, legislation, and a culture that doesn’t stigmatize mental illness. Anne Lamott wrote about similar issues in an article yesterday.  After a tragedy, people are shocked.  They talk about coming together, but do they?  And for every comment where someone celebrates Robin Williams’ life or shares his own story, there are others who will write insults. 

Celebrating life is important.  Sharing stories is important.  All of this is how we know we are not alone. We need to acknowledge the famous and the not-so-famous, anyone who has affected our lives, for what they have contributed.    If I linger too long in the tragic aftermath, I want to find the articles and blogs that inspire me. 

As someone who lives with depression, I appreciate how candidly people are sharing their own experiences.  I appreciate the suicide and crisis lines posted at the bottom of articles about Robin Williams’ death.  Depression and addiction do not discriminate, no matter how much or how little you have.  I want to believe in a world where I – others – will always have hope.  The truth is, that may not always happen.  I want to be realistic while at the same time hold great idealism.  There may not be a “cure” for mental illness, exactly, but there can definitely be a greater understanding of it.  And it begins with breaking the silence.    

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