Like most of the western world, the recent and highly publicized suicide of Robin Williams has affected me greatly. Although my first reaction was shock and sadness, I must say that the tragic passing of Mr. Williams has both inspired me and helped to reaffirm some things that I have come to realize about the human condition.
We are all sensitive and fragile beings. Our bodies are meat and bone, they are all born and they all die, and everything around us, including the mind, is always changing. Each and every one of us must endure this existence and hopefully find ways to thrive in it. Some may be more visibly sensitive than others, but NO ONE, despite religious, racial, geographical, financial, or any other situation or condition is exempt from this fragility.
Suicidal ideation has been a familiar echo throughout my life and one that I have thankfully always survived. Although I am now living free of the severe and debilitating symptoms of mental illness, I still, like every other human being, experience ups and downs almost daily. It is part of who we are and it is nothing to be ashamed or fearful of.
Depression, mania, rage, addiction, anxiety, abuse… These are all very real things that can get so out of hand that the only light we can see is on the other side of death. For someone living with any of these challenges, the thought of continuing on can be unbearable, but the suffering is far too often invisible to those around us. Sometimes those who are happiest on the outside are the most lost inside. Yet other times, those suffering to control their feelings of desperation or fear come across as cold and hurtful. These people can often resort to violence to release their intense emotions either towards themselves or others.
From the outside perspective, there is often very little compassion or understanding towards people acting out their rage and fear through violence. I am by no means justifying violence against anyone. Violence, whether physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, or otherwise, is detrimental to all parties involved. However, without the compassion and support for those struggling to control these intense emotions, they will never be able to heal and stop this behavior and neither will our society as a whole. Instead, we shame those struggling with violent tendencies and lock them away or abandon them without help or hope.
The conversation about mental health continues to push its way into the limelight with the ever increasing instances of violence in our society and It’s FAR beyond time to change the way we see and handle it. It’s each of our jobs to continue this conversation. Mental health affects EVERYONE in so many different ways. Even if you don’t feel you have personally had to deal with the internal battle of a mental illness, chances are someone around you has and it may have directly or indirectly affected your own life and well-being.
My compassion for humanity will never again falter and my belief that every human being has the capacity to both heal and harm remains strong. It’s up to each individual to make sure we are going with the healing. Start the process with yourself, and please, continue to speak up for those who don’t yet have their own voice. We all have the capacity to change and inspire a better future for ourselves and our children.