Saturday, August 16, 2014

Manner of Death

It has been a hard week. I'm still wrapping my mind around the death of Robin Williams and trying to figure out why such news devastates me.
Maybe it's because I get it. 
I get what it feels like to see the world in shades of gray.
There have been times in my past when it was hard to get out of bed and function, put on clean clothes, brush my teeth and function at a minimum in my own life, much less a work life, family life, social life.  Honestly, I don't really ever talk about it much.  That's part of the illness. It has a life of its own and it likes living in the darkness. It feeds on it.  I've been there. I'll feel better tomorrow. That's the lie depression tells its sufferer.
When I heard the news, I felt a deep sadness for someone I didn't even know. One more victim of a deadly, silent illness that is so misunderstood by those who have never suffered from it. The stigma and shame. The silence of it is deadly.
See, the thing is, if Robin Williams had died from complications of Parkinson's disease or a swift heart attack, we'd be sad but it would be acceptable.  There has been much debate about the "selfishness" of suicide.  I refuse to get into that debate.  Suicide is just another symptom of depression.  A final symptom.

It's important for me and you to know the signs of depression; the red flags. My hubby has learned my red flags and I'm grateful for that. He knows the right things to say so that I become aware that I am sinking. Because you can't really see depression like you see a broken arm. It is insidious. By the time you are sitting in a dark room for 20 hours as it was reported that Robin Williams was doing, that becomes the new norm. Non-sufferers often times don't fully understand that it is a deep hole one has fallen into and cannot crawl out of without help.

All week I've been thinking about the things over the years
that have kept me away from the edge of that abyss.

Sunshine.  It's like a big battery charger in the sky for me. It's the number one cure for me.
Medication. At times, I have to take it. I hate taking it but when the depression gets bad enough, I'm on the phone with my doctor.
Light box.   A must have for those of us who have seasonal affective disorder.
Writing.  An amazing outlet for me.
Photography.  It's all about light. I'm all about light.
Eating well.  Fresh food, please.
Friends.  Spending time with my peeps.
Walking.  Exercise and fresh air do me wonders.

In closing, I've been wondering all week what goes on the death certificate of one who dies from suicide.  Hanged himself with a belt?  I worked at hospice once for about 18 months. I noted on a majority of death certificates "cause of death" was from urinary tract infections; surprisingly not the major medical issue that put them into hospice care. So, I wish the news would report that Robin Williams died from depression.  I can't bear the thought of what was reported in the news. It was only the manner of death.  He died from an illness many people suffer and I'm one of those people.

The truth is, we're all going to die. What I've learned this week is keep paying attention to the warning signs of depression and not let it take a silent seat in my house. Don't think that it can't happen to you. It happened to a funny, talented, intelligent and loved man who the world adored. Imagine that.

love, susan


  1. In mine I posted Wedensday, I mentioned it felt like a family member was lost. Actually, Single Dad Laughing posted pretty much the same thing, starting very similarly to the way I started my blog. When it works...

    I think that's what's hitting people so hard, in addition to the way he went. He's always seemed accessible and genuine. Based on stories I've heard, first-hand accounts, he was. The world is a better place because he was in it, and that's hard to let go.

    1. Yes it is ... hard to let go. Time heals.

  2. So much thought went into this bog Sue and it says a lot of truths. Those that have never been there will never understand. Nancy

    1. Thank you ... this had been on my mind the entire week.

  3. Well said, Susan.

    Years ago, as I was suffering in a deep depression, a friend told me, "If only you got such-and-such channel where you live. They have such uplifting shows, it would cheer you up." I responded, "Watching cheerful shows would not cure depression any more than it would cure diabetes."

    1. I had a wonderful nurse practitioner that said, "you can't pray it away, you can't wish it away, you can't exercise it away. Sometimes medication is the only answer". I'm glad she knew the right thing to say ... it likely saved my life.


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