If you are a reader because you like to keep up with my travels and life, this might be one of those posts you skip over. This is a very personal, non-life-update post that may or may not interest you, and may even offend you (though if you know me, hopefully it will not offend, maybe enlighten?). You don’t have to agree with me, and you certainly don’t have to support me. We all have opinions and ideas based on our individual experiences and backgrounds and I am just voicing mine, as I feel it is a rather appropriate time to do so….

I have debated and debated posting something in relation to the death of Robin Williams. My thought process has been something like this….
“Well, I don’t actually know Robin Williams, and I’m not even much of a movie person, it doesn’t really affect me. I mean I like the movies I have seen and he seems like a pretty cool dude. He supports the troops, too! And it’s sad when anyone dies, but I don’t feel the need to post how sad I am on Facebook or other social media.”
But seeing the massive reaction to his death has been eye-opening and insightful. On the one hand, I am thrilled that most of what I have seen has been brilliantly positive in regards to raising the issue of mental health and suicide. I will get to this in a moment.
On the other hand, I have, as expected, seen the negative posts spouting things like “Who cares, he took his own life,” “There are people dying in wars and at the hands of terrorists, why should we care about him?”, etc. There are a few articles I will post that I think are spot-on in relation to Robin Williams‘ death, and they address these issues better than I could in a million years, so I will let them do the talking in a moment.

I do, however, want to give my story. Because this is why I debated posting something. Robin Williams‘ death does relate to my life. But not because I am a huge fan or know him personally. It’s because I can relate to his death. That big “S” word. Suicide. My brother committed suicide when I was 19 years old (almost 10 years ago now). He was 21. Mental health and suicide are not things to be taken lightly, which is why I appreciate that this event has raised awareness of issues. It’s incredibly sad to me though, that it takes a big-name celebrity killing himself to bring about this concern. Knowing what I know and have read about depression, suicidal thoughts, and “the darkness” as many call it, I can’t imagine what my brother (or Robin Williams, or anyone else with this disease) went through or are going through. Luckily, I have not battled these demons. I have, of course, had times of utter sadness and deep, far-reaching pain, but never have I been stuck in the depths of true, all-encompassing depression. But I know people who have. And I can’t even fathom it. After my brother died, I did go through bouts of anxiety. I found this quote long ago on Pinterest, and found it incredibly accurate, at least for my sense of depression and anxiety:

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I was constantly worried about the future. I was worried that something else was going to happen. Someone else was going to die. No one would be there for me in the future. I tried anti-anxiety medicine, but hated it. I felt hazy all the time and didn’t ever “feel” anything- no emotions, no happiness, no joy, no sadness, nothing. I decided I would rather be able to experience my emotions, even if it meant experiencing bouts of anxiety as well. Luckily, I had an incredible support system including my phenomenal family and amazing group of friends to help me get through this time, as they were often able to help alleviate my anxiety and stay focused on the present. I can see, though, how people can get so consumed with anxiety or depression or whatever is wreaking havoc on their minds, that it overtakes them.  Especially if they don’t have a support system like mine.

I guess what I am trying to say through this, is that depression and other mental issues are real and they affect people. So when people say things like “Who cares, he took his own life,” I want to scream “SOMEONE CARES! HIS FAMILY CARES! THIS DOES AFFECT PEOPLE!” I cared. It affected me. Or when people say “There are innocent people dying all over the world, why should we care?”, I want to ask, so this life isn’t worthy? This life isn’t valuable solely because this person felt so crushed by demons that escaping from them was the only option? I guess I just have a hard time with this. Yes, it is incredibly sad that children, people are dying all over the world, especially for senseless reasons. You can’t compare the two though. To the family of someone who commits suicide, that life meant something. That person will never be replaced. That life was invaluable. I know my brother’s was. He didn’t get to attend my or my sister’s weddings. He won’t experience being an uncle to the child that will be born in just a few months, or any other children my sister and I plan to have. He wasn’t there for Christmases and other holidays, just as he won’t in the future. Does this matter to most people? No. But it matters to me. It matters to my family, my friends, his friends. So my point is, no, Robin Williams‘ death may not directly matter to you. But it matters. And it matters to those suffering from mental illness. If we can raise awareness and use this as a tool to help, rather than blame and ridicule, it matters. The stigma of suicide is real, and the stigma of mental illness is real. If we can use events like this as a stepping stone to solving these problems, maybe the focus can be on healing and hope.

Here are a few articles I have seen posted in response to Robin Williams‘ death. These have resonated with me for a variety of reasons. Hopefully they will inspire people and enlighten people. Hopefully people will read them. Hopefully they will spark change and action. Maybe they will encourage you to reach out…

Spot on:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katie-hurley/theres-nothing-selfish-about-suicide_b_5672519.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

A Christian-based article, interesting read:

What the Church & Christians Need to Know About Suicide & Mental Health

I think this one is incredibly important…
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/08/12/suicide-contagion-and-social-media-the-dangers-of-sharing-genie-youre-free/

And this image speaks volumes…
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/13/daily-news-robin-williams-village-voice-editor_n_5675667.html?utm_hp_ref=media
{He is still a person. Give him a little respect.}

I apologize if this was all over the place, but I truly felt compelled to share my feelings….I would say I am sorry if you are offended or annoyed by my post, but I’m not sorry. If you don’t agree, that’s fine, we don’t have to.

If you were looking for an update on my life and travels, stay tuned, I’ll be back 🙂

Happy Thursday