We Need to Talk. There was a story in the news recently about a girl who allegedly coaxed a friend into committing suicide. According to reports she may have followed up with coaching him through the act, texting him while he sat in a car filling with carbon monoxide. The question posed was whether or not she should be charged for the offense. Most reactions to the story were that of outrage, but woven in between the comments of support and prayers for the young man's family were the words shared that chilled my soul, people questioning the accused girl's guilt when it was obvious that 'Some people just can't hack it.' The comment in itself was disturbing enough, but when I scrolled down hoping to see an onslaught of outraged responses I instead saw that this comment had received 94 likes. All together these hate "likes" outweighed any other comment on the page, all of those words of love or understanding from the people who were actually acting like human beings.
The words flew around in my head like shrapnel, '..can't hack it' bouncing around my skull. I'm not going to lie to you, readers. It didn't sound good up there.
Until finally I figured out the problem. Maybe these folks just don't get it. Maybe I could help them understand something about depression and suicide: that as much as they'd like to believe it's about strength and ability to "hack it" --
THAT'S NOT HOW IT F*CKING WORKS!!!!
First off...Let me try to put it in a way most psychotypical folks can understand. That's what I'm going to call the non-crazies. That is, the "normal" folks who have no problems whatsoever: the ones who think that suicide has everything to do with "not hacking it." So, psychotypicals. Okay, that's a mouthful. Can I call all you normal, well-adjusted people something else? How about dumbasses? It's shorter. Good. Okay, dumbasses. I'm going to put it in terms you're sure to understand.
DEPRESSION IS AN ILLNESS. That means it's a thing that medically happens to some folks out of their control whether they can "hack it" or not.
It's wiring in the brain the zigs when it's supposed to zag. It's chemicals, environment, history, genetics and whole lot of biology that's well out of my pay grade to understand. But I'm smart enough to know this much. It ain't about being weak.
Say a guy has lung disease. You think someone's out there saying, "Hey, look at Chudley over there. He's such a wimp, he can't even process oxygen without help!" No. They're not.
If a woman has an issue with her reproductive system, no one's going to crack on her for it like she's this undesirable beast. Ovaries have nothing to do with beauty or strength. If they did, there'd be a Best Ovary Round in the Miss America Pageant. We don't fault people for their illnesses.
Yet the idea is out there still that people with depression are lesser somehow: that they are mentally and emotionally too weak for the world. The implication that those who succumb to the pressure of suicide have no will or mental strength is still alive and well despite all evidence to the contrary. Here's a question...
When's the last time you saw someone think their way out of a broken arm? Suicide is not about the weak. It's about people who feel like they've got the world on their shoulders for their whole lives who take one wrong second to shrug.
If you don't believe me, history will tell you. I give you...
Five People Who Were Not Less. Period.
5. Ludwig Boltzmann The Austrian physicist is remembered for his work in thermodynamics and atomic theory. He used applied mathematics to expand on the "Second Law," the Law of Disorder. But at age 62, feeling demoralized by his critics, hanged himself in 1906. He was an intellectual Hercules.
4. Sylvia Plath
Best remembered for her collected poems and her novel The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath openly discussed her battles with depression in her writing and in interviews. Her descriptions of mental anguish gained her critical acclaim in her work.
She left behind a daughter and a son the day she died.
3. Kurt CobainThe lead singer of Nirvana battled with drug addiction as well as depression. Although there is still some dispute surrounding the events that took place on the day of Cobain's death, the note he left behind was clear. He asked his wife to be strong for their baby daughter. He closed, "Life will be so much happier. I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU."
2. Robin Williams I have trouble even typing this man's name on the list because it still hurts so badly to do it. From the time I was a little girl, Mr. Williams has meant so much to me. As Mork, he was my first crush.
As the Genie he showed me it was okay to have wishes. In Dead Poets' Society, he made it okay to want to write. He made me want to teach and teach well. And in Good Will Hunting he showed me I don't always have to be funny, that sometimes people will still like you, even when you're serious.
I had loved Robin Williams for almost two decades when he made the biggest impact on me in any performance and it changed my life. In What Dreams May Come, my favorite funnyman showed me it was okay to grieve for my mother. The film explores the mysteries of the afterlife, particularly in the case of suicide. And though it is presented as a mystery, Robin showed me one thing was certain.
You have to keep living.
With everything he's done for me, you'd think Robin Williams would be my number one. But unfortunately, that position has been filled for some time.
1. My MomWhile most people drink green beer this week I will be trying to wrap my head around the fact that my mother has been gone for two decades. Her note, like Cobain's, was all about us: my brother and me, and how we'd have better lives without her. She'd filled up a whole notebook with reasons why. There were lists on top of lists. And to her it all added up. And at the end she wrote to God. It read just like poetry and prayers. She wanted Him to take care of us, and to make sure were all right. She loved to make people laugh. And she just wanted us to be happy.
My mother carried me when I couldn't stand. Nothing about her was weak.
SO PLEASE...Before making a judgment about someone's ability or inability to "hack" anything, consider the possibility that you would be completely wrong on so many levels, for so many reasons.
And if you or anyone you know is the person suffering, know you're not alone. PLEASE. GET. THE. HELP. YOU. NEED. 1-800-273-8255
Click here for help.
To someone, you're everything. <3
Hug your loved ones, everybody.
....and if anyone feels like sending cookies, chocolate...beer?
Woof. This was rough.
Thanks for reading!