50 Shades of Depression/50 Shades of Suicide
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Unfortunately, we all judge each other. We hate in others what we despise in ourselves. I found I had to go through a process to come to terms with the recent event of Robin Williams suicide.
Depression is a common illness that creates feelings of isolation and although it is devastating, it is always good to learn that we are not alone in our struggle.
Millions of people suffer from depression in one form or another. Every form should be taken seriously. There is help available.
We suffered a great loss this last week. From all the reports, Robin Williams committed suicide. This is tragic news that leaves one to question why? Why would a man who seemed to have it all do such a thing?
My first thought was, if Robin Williams can’t hack it, how can I?
It has been reported that he suffered from depression all his life and had issues with drugs and alcohol addictions.
This reminds me of my previous post, Cerebral, in which I discuss how our expectations of people, and those expectations not being met can cause us mental anguish.
Leading me into another posit, where you take the six people you admire most in the world and you are able to switch bags with them; the bags being their lives. In this exercise you should realize that no one is without problems, because no matter whom you switched your bag with, you will inevitably want your bag back.
Robin Williams was one of those people that I admired. He was loved the world over. He was a successful actor and comedian. He was a working, sought after, famous individual. Millions of people would have loved to have been in his shoes.
My second thought was, if only he knew how much he was loved, he would have found the strength to carry on.
As a person who has suffered from “depression” all my life, at times I have contemplated suicide. I have found that I would never commit such an act, because of the people it would affect. I couldn’t do that to my children and the people that care about me. It would leave them devastated and that is enough to keep me moving forward.
So then I wanted to know, if Robin Williams had children and I discovered in this article that he did indeed have three children, ages 25 to 31.
Upon further reading, I discovered that he had two divorces in which he lost $30 million dollars and was now strapped for cash, looking to sell some of his properties that he could no longer afford. In today’s real estate market that is almost a magical feat.
With everything being relative, people suffer from financial hardships all the time. Surely financial hardship couldn’t be the only reason.
Most recently it has been brought to our attention that Robin Williams suffered from the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.
I also understand this as I have a terminal illness, systemic sclerosis and no health insurance to treat my illness, but I am not ready to throw in the towel, because I know that it would devastate my children.
In terms of mental illness and there being treatment for it. This is still a new area.
The HBO documentary, Boy Interrupted, (2009), shows how a child can almost have this tendency in their DNA, and despite their parents’ involvement the suicide happened anyway.
The child in the documentary started to exhibit signs of suicidal tendencies as early as five years old. His father’s brother committed suicide years before the child was born. The father experienced his brother’s suicide and was familiar with the signs, so he brought his son in for treatment. Sadly, the boy committed suicide at the age of fifteen. So is there a genetic predisposition for suicide?
My first thoughts of suicide or wanting to die were right after my mother’s death when I was five years old. I was very confused, because people don’t know what to say to a child who just lost her mother. They say things like, “God needed her in heaven and she is with the angels now.”
That very night I started a vigil asking God to take me. It did not occur to me that I could do it myself. Perhaps my early Sunday school classes had an affect. I hadn’t realized before my mother’s death, at the tender age of five that there was an alternative to living and I was relentless. Every single night I prayed to be taken until the age of eight when I had a dream.
In my dream I was swept up in the clouds and brought before God. God was at a desk, like a judge in a courtroom, but this desk seemed to be floating way above me. There was a being to my right that brought me before God; this being was ethereal, clouded or faint. It was like I just knew he was there, but didn’t actually look at him; I felt his male presence.
God did not look like I expected him to look. At this point, at the age of 8, I expected God to look like Charleston Heston in the movie Moses, much like Di Vinci’s, Sistine Chapel’s depiction of God.
The God in my dream looked more like a cross between the popular alien depiction that had not been popularized yet, (at 8 years old in 1971 I had never seen those pictures) and Ming the Merciless from the original television show, Flash Gordon popular in the 1960’s. His eyes were slanted and dark, his head was rather pointed and his face somewhat oval. This was the only way my 8 years old mind could process what I was seeing.
We did not speak with words, I never uttered a single sound and yet we all communicated. At first the being at my side spoke for me, but then I interjected and started to communicate with God.
God asked me to stop my prayers. He told me that I had an obligation to fulfill and that I couldn’t know it, I just had to proceed. I was insistent to know what my obligation was. He finally relented telling me that he would tell me now, but all knowledge of it would be erased when I woke up and he proceeded to tell me. I have absolutely no idea what he said.
Afterwards, I was whisked back down to my bed by the being to my right and awoke refreshed and stopped demanding that I be taken from this earth, that is until I became a teenager and my desire to end it was refreshed. Although as a teen, I didn’t pray to God to take me, I struggled with trying to live in peace in this world and I found help though reading books.
Throughout my life my tools for battling depression have been books! I read many self-help books to see me through: Wayne Dyer and Your Erroneous Zones, Negaholic’s by Cherie Carter-Scott, Perilous Pursuits, by Joseph M. Stowell, probably all of Tony Robbins, the list is long, but most recently, (2014) Awakening the Spirit Within, 10 Steps to Ignite Your Life and Fulfill Your Divine Purpose, by Rebecca Rosen and Samantha Rose.
Awakening The Spirit Within was the most difficult book to read, because I had to process what the author was saying. It’s not a novel to read for pleasure where you can’t wait to see what happens next. It is more of a guidebook, introducing new and different philosophies.
Rebecca Rosen relies heavily on the ancient traditions of the Cabala and introduces spirit guides that are with us and at our service if only we would ask for help.
Her thesis is that life is a school and we made a contract before coming down to earth, because there are things we need to learn. So everything that happens to us in our lives is essentially, a set up, to learn and grow. We have free will in how to respond and act upon the situations that occur in our lives. I recognized this premise in Albert Brooks’ movie, Defending Your Life. In the movie Albert’s character dies, and has to defend his life’s decisions in order to move on to the next level and avoid coming back to earth, which is like a preschool in the grand scheme of things.
Rebecca suffered losing her Grandmother to suicide when she was nine years old. In college; she was visited by her grandmother’s spirit who told her things only her grandmother would know. Rebecca shared this information with her father and was validated! Her father was stunned and amazed by Rebecca’s knowledge. From that point forward Rebecca became aware that she could communicate with spirits and is now a Medium who helps people commune with those that have passed.
Later her father took his own life and she has had to deal with that as well. Rebecca communicated with her father since his passing and states that her father has been assigned to guide the living to avoid suicides.
The premise of Rebecca Rosen’s book; is that our existence does not end with death. We will have to continue on and make amends even after we have died.
The thought that we are here to learn, that we signed a contract to accomplish some goal, rings true to me.
I have always felt that on some level, but until I read it in Rosen’s book, I never quite vocalized it. It is like that moment when you realize that you are not the only person who believes or feels something and the fact that there is another out there that feels, and believes it too, gives it credence to accept it as a viable hypothesis.
The Negative and Positive exist side by side! Everyone can make a list of the negative in their life and can also make an equal list of positive things in their life. The choice is ours on which to dwell. As the Dahlia Lama said, “I am happy, because I choose to be.” Is happiness a choice?
Now when it comes to brain chemistry and the patient in Boy Interrupted, we are talking about something different. Recent studies show in Documentaries R Us, that suicide victims have very large levels of serotonin in the brain and this could be one reason. The brain chemistry of the suicide victim is vastly different from non-suicide victims. The documentary states that there are 30,000 suicides annually in the United States and firearms are used in 60% of them. There are twice as many suicides as homicides each year; and that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Last year a 31-year-old Alabama man jumped off the golden gate bridge and survived. “Surviving the fall is rare and most jumpers hit the water at 80 mph. causing internal organs to tear apart and broken ribs to pierce their heart or lungs.” It is said that as he was falling, he found his only regret was the decision he had just made, to jump, because once he made it; it could not be undone. Luckily he survived with only a few broken bones and the knowledge that it was a mistake.
I have never suffered from depression so deep that I could not get out of bed. I have never felt completely debilitated by my sadness. I cry easily and often. I am an empathic individual that feels others’ pain as well as my own. I am hyper sensitive and this causes me deep sadness, but I found that there are ways to avoid putting myself in situations that will sadden me like limiting my time spent watching the news.
There is comfort in the knowledge that we cannot have light without dark, we cannot have good without bad, each is ever present and always reflects off the other. I have come to accept that I am not going to be happy everyday of my life and that sadness is as much a part of life as happiness.
Suicide is nothing new, it is as old as time. Many cultures have practiced “forced suicides” or “suicides of honor,” Seneca and Socrates come to mind, both felt that they wanted to be in control of their destiny. Feeling that they were making a statement, they took their own lives. When I studied philosophy, I was surprised at my reaction to the Great Greek Philosophers, giving up on life. I think if there is a chance, that chance is worth fighting for.
That brings me to modern day, suicide bombers who feel that their death is an honor to serve Allah or military suicides, where the life of one is somehow expendable to destroy many, as exhibited by the Kamikaze pilots of WWII. Or the ritualistic suicides of Sati and Hara-kiri, performed in Japan, a death of honor, for some seemingly unforgivable act.
And finally there is euthanasia, death with dignity, the act of killing oneself to relieve a physically debilitating illness. I have watched my aunt, a truly devote Catholic woman, wither away, bedridden for five years before she was taken of natural causes and it put quite a strain on everyone involved. It is not an easy thing to watch, making one question if there is a viable reason for it.
When we see an animal suffering from illness knowing there is no hope for the animal, we put the animal down. I had a cat, Carmen, a beautiful tortoise shell calico that I had rescued. We had her for 11 years. She became ill and was suffering and while my husband and I argued for three months over the proper steps to take, Carmen died. It was terrible to watch her suffer and it is a feeling that is with you always, while in the process of the illness and even after the event of death.
There are many types of depression, some chemically related and some brought about by misfortune, or a debilitating illness. There are many reasons people commit suicide, in Documentaries R Us above, it was also cited that sometimes people take their own life as a means to show their loved ones, “look what you have done to me”, a type of revenge scenario, but in such cases, undiagnosed mental illness is usually the suspected culprit.
Death is a part of life, it is inevitable, but it is how we live that will make the transition from life to death that much smoother.
Recently I took a survey on Facebook, asking people to like the post if they had ever suffered from depression and it was as I expected, more prevalent than I had originally thought. We all have our own journey, our own lessons to learn, we cannot say what it is like to be in another’s shoes. So we must be kind to each other and leave judgment behind. We cannot know how another feels or processes their life’s experience or the levels of pain they endure.
I wrote this because I had to process Robin Williams’ suicide. I judged him. First I thought, if he can’t hack it how are the rest of us supposed to and then, if only he knew how much he was loved he would have found strength. Soon anger crept in, thinking, how could he commit this act, when he had children and as I researched further, I discovered like all of us, Robin was dealing with financial, health and depression issues, but in the end I discovered, THAT IT IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS! Robin, like all of us has his own journey and lessons to learn and it is he and he alone that will have to deal with the consequences, what ever they will be.
I am grateful that he was on this earth. I grew up watching him. He brought me great joy. I will miss him. I wish him peace everlasting.
If we allow our happiness to hang on exterior sources we will never be happy. We cannot control exterior sources. If our happiness is contingent on that goal, whatever that goal may be, we will always be chasing it. Putting contingencies on happiness is like attaching it to a weather vane in the wind of a tornado.
All we can control is our attitude and how we process events that happen all around us. We must choose to be happy and if that doesn’t work, we must seek resources to get the help we need. We are all in this together, we all suffer and struggle, ours is not to judge another’s, ours is just to do the best we can.
There is so much more to our experience than meets the eye.
Suggested reading: http://tinybuddha.com
Need Help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255