I’m not one to usually be phased by the news of a celebrity death. That was not the case earlier this week when I heard about the tragic death of Robin Williams. I was shocked and in disbelief. Really? Robin Williams? No!
He’s always been one of my favorite people in Hollywood because he’s amazingly funny, talented, and I just really liked him. Even though I never met him, he made an impact on my life. He is one of the greats and he will be truly missed.
I always knew that Robin struggled with addiction and depression. I don’t think that makes him any different from the rest of us. If anything, these issues are what truly bonds us together as human beings. We ALL have issues and demons that we deal with in our lives. The problem is that nobody is willing to talk about these issues because there’s a negative stigma and shame attached to mental illness.
Often times when people hear “mental illness” they only think of someone who is detached from reality and locked away in a hospital. Sadly, that is sometimes the case but most high functioning, successful people also suffer from some form of mental illness. YES, depression, anxiety, alcoholism, addiction, and eating disorders are all common forms of mental illness. I think it’s safe to say everyone has experienced one of these issues or knows someone that has. It’s much more common than you think.
As human beings we are terrified of looking weak to other people. We live in a society where you are expected to put your armor on and just dust yourself off. To admit to anyone that you’re depressed or addicted to something would be a sign of weakness. So people go about their crazy, busy lives dealing with the day to day stressors on top of staying quiet about their mental illness. Personally, I can tell you that’s when thoughts can become really dangerous and scary.
Asking for help isn’t easy. It takes strength to admit you aren’t doing ok and need someone else to help you through it. I just want you to know that you can ask for help. A few years back when I got severely depressed I didn’t know what to do. When I shared how I was really feeling with my husband, he’s the one that picked up the phone and got me an appointment with a therapist. That took a lot for me because I NEVER ask anyone for help because I’m stubborn and independent. I now recognize that I can’t always do everything alone and it’s healthy to share how I’m feeling before things build up too far. Asking for help can mean either telling a spouse, a friend, family member, calling your doctor, a crisis hotline, etc.
I also want to point this out from the other perspective. When someone is severely depressed or addicted, they may not be able to ask for help. If you see this behavior in someone you care about, PLEASE speak up and get them the help they won’t ask for.
Part of what’s therapeutic for me is writing on this blog. I can literally feel a weight being lifted from me when I finish a post. Getting online and sharing my story with the entire world is not always easy. There’s plenty of times I type and save to drafts because I’m afraid to share. I’ve personally dealt with severe depression, anxiety, Agoraphobia, and of course Binge Eating Disorder. I know that people have judged me for getting online and airing my “dirty laundry”. I don’t care what those people think. I’m not doing this for them. I do it for two reasons and these 2 reasons only:
1. Sharing MY story helps me to move on and live an irresistible life.
2. Sharing MY story gives someone else hope that they can also move on and live an irresistible life.
Sharing ALL of our stories gets these topics out in the open, creating a conversation that moves us closer to removing the negative stigmas and shame attached to mental illness.
If you don’t get anything else out of this post, I want you to walk away knowing that:
1. Share your story! Opening up about your pain might give someone else the courage to seek help.
2. It’s OK to ask for help! There’s nothing to be ashamed of.
3. If you’re dealing with a mental illness, it does not make you “crazy”. It makes you a normal human being that’s trying to cope with life and let’s face it, life is hard!
4. Suicide is not the answer! It’s a permanent solution that effects the lives of many. It might seem like there’ isn’t a way out but there is. It WILL get better. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please, please, please tell someone or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.
I love each and every one of you.