Because news of the passing of Robin Williams has been unavoidable, the topic of depression is being discussed openly and frequently. I decided to do a search on my use of the word "depression" here on the old blog and there were quite a few posts that popped up. I have definitely had my struggles over the years with this very topic although there has only been one instance when suicide became sort of a reality in my life. I don't think I knew at that time what depression was but I found myself frequently thinking terrible thoughts while I was driving that focused on self harm. I thought about what it would be like to drive the car off a cliff or into the center divider. I wondered what would happen if I threw myself from a car in motion if I was a passenger. It wasn't just a one-time thing, it went on for months.
Finally, one day, I found myself crying uncontrollably at work. It is sort of a stressful place sometimes and that day I guess I cracked. For some reason, I just ended up telling my boss and my dad that I was thinking terrible thoughts about hurting or killing myself. It wasn't a plan to commit suicide, but the thoughts definitely were fatalistic in nature. My boss gave me the number to a suicide hotline and to a psychologist his daughter used when she went through a nasty bout of depression. I remember calling that suicide hotline and wondering what the fuck I was doing, but I did it. And somehow it actually made me feel better.
I went to that therapist a few times and we talked at length about many, many things. At some point we concluded that I was pretty self aware and that maybe we had reached the point that therapy wasn't really going to be the solution to these thoughts. I talked to my doctor and we tried Prozac and Zoloft. I was medicated for years and eventually, just weaned off of them. I remember the shame and embarrassment I had because I was on anti-depressants but it seemed to pale in comparison to actually being depressed. I'm so glad I had people I trusted that I could turn to and talk to. I'm so grateful my harmful thoughts never became a reality.
In reading about depression and suicide in the wake of Robin Williams taking his own life, it has been interesting to see so many varying thoughts and perspectives. It's good to see discussions that weren't happening two days ago. It's very clear that the United States needs to shift its perspective and treatment of mental health issues and perhaps this is the catalyst. Silver linings are everywhere, we just need to look for them.