Suicide, depression, and humor
My first introduction to Robin Williams was in the TV sitcom, “Mork and Mindy”. As an awkward child with undiagnosed Asperger’s disorder, I related to the social challenges experienced by the Mork character. As a teenager, I developed a taste for his biting humor. Later still, I grew to respect this talented man who used humor to take the sting out of his own battle with depression and substance addiction. He was a comedic genius who will be sorely missed.
I have also struggled with depression for most of my life. More than once I have stared up from the dark abyss and wondered if dying might be a viable option. In the midst of physical, emotional, and spiritual agony suicide seemed like a reasonable choice. I had lost all hope of ever seeing emotional daylight again. For weeks I would weigh the options and plan my exit strategy. These times were most dangerous because I told no one of my despair. I spent most of my 20s and 30s on and off of one antidepressant or another before finally I accepted that permanent treatment was necessary to keep the darkness at bay.
Something different happened during the last round of depression. For whatever reason, I decided to start talking about my experience. At first I scared my husband with all the talk about suicide. Yet it made me feel so much more hopeful to give voice to my pain. Sharing my thoughts had an unexpected outcome. The more I talked about my suicidal thoughts, the less likely I was to act on them. Just saying out loud that I was weighing the pros and cons of various lethal methods brought such a relief. Eventually my husband learned to tolerate my “suicide talk”, although he has never been entirely comfortable with it.
As someone who has seriously considered suicide, I can promise you that I did not entertain the option lightly. Some days it felt like I was hauling around 100 pound anchor. Gradually the fog lifted. It was a lengthy process. Over time, the option to keep on living became more and more compelling. I would bargain with myself, making deals to put off any action for an hour, a day, a week, until eventually the urge faded into the background.
If this story sounds familiar, please reach out to someone for help. If you are not sure where to turn, please call 1-800-273-8255 or go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and ask for help. Someone will be there to guide you through the steps to getting the support you need.