I'm a bit overwhelmed by the love poured out over the loss of Robin Williams. But I can't help but feel vulnerable when a man of such cheerfulness can be overtaken by depression.
It scares me.
Depression and suicide are like an experienced thief. Nobody sees them coming. And when you do, it's too late. We think, “how did we not notice? What could have we done to prevent it?”I posted this tweet just a few hours after the news of Robin's death was released.
Robin Williams was a great man. Especially for my generation. His life left a dent in the universe and kids across the globe were better for it. But how can we prevent chronic depression? How can we prevent suicide? Here are a few pieces of advice I believe we can all lean on.
1. Never make big decisions in a valley
I've had a fair share of depression and anxiety. Enough to spend 90 days off work because of it. But in an effort to escape the pain, I found myself making big, unrealistic changes in my life. I wanted to move or quit or run away. This is dangerous. Strong people wait to make decisions from the mountain top where they can see the landscape, but weakness pushes us toward decisions in the valley, where we can only see what's in front of us. My advice is… wait. Keep climbing before you make a decision to do anything.
2. Realize Depression is Counterintuitive
When you want to be alone, don't. When you think everything is broken, it's not. When you can't seem to get passed it, keep trying. Humans have struggled with depression for thousands of years. At the core, it's a system malfunction. It's based on lies and a phantom reality. It's times likes these you may consider relying on the words of Jesus, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
3. Recognize Your Need for Need
Society has convinced us that having needs equals weakness. This is why we don't ask for help or for money or for a friendship. We believe that people flee from those who are lacking. This is far from the truth. Rather, we crave vulnerability, connection, and transparency. We want to love and be loved for who we are. Be brave and put yourself out there. Tell someone you're depressed. Tell them you need someone to hang out with. Tell someone you are weak. I promise they will not turn away.
Lastly, let's celebrate Robin. The genius, the poet, the master.
How did Robin William's death make you feel? What has helped you prevent depression and suicide? Let me know in the comments below.