Updated: Dec 29, 2021
On the heels of learning that one of the funniest humans we may ever have the privilege of being entertained by, Robin Williams, took his own life, we should all take a pause…a collective inhale…pause again…and then slowly exhale. We should be thankful that it wasn’t any of us…or a close friend…or family member…because depression can happen to anyone…at any time.
It doesn’t have to be a prolonged bout. It can sneak up quickly…plummeting you to depths you didn’t realize were accessible. Depths you could have gladly lived your whole life without knowing. That’s what happened to me.
For the most part, I lived an externally happy life. I was quick with a joke…and to laugh. Unbeknownst to me…and those around me…there was a deep sadness…a deep yearning to feel accepted…a need to feel loved…that ran through me like a dark, murky river.
Looking back, I see it so clearly now. But in the midst of living my life, I was completely unaware…and even more unequipped to deal with it when it finally bubbled to the surface.
I was in college…newly reunited with my high school boyfriend. Things seemed to be moving in the right direction when I was delivered some pretty unexpected news. The series of events that followed aren’t necessarily important…what matters is the result.
I felt scorned…confused…betrayed. I felt utterly alone…so disappointed in myself that I couldn’t imagine anyone understanding or being able to help me. The weight of what I was carrying was too much…and I’d quickly come face to face with my limit.
What I was feeling was beyond my ability to process. Had I had someone to talk to, I might not have did what I did. But I didn’t. I felt completely alone…helpless…unable to see any light in the darkness. Whether accurate or not, it didn’t matter because that’s how I felt at the time.
When I got home, I was numb. My brain was working…logically processing steps…but my body was shut down. I felt nothing. I walked into my room, sat down at my desk, grabbed pen and paper, and began to craft a goodbye note. I don’t remember what I wrote exactly. I just remember that it was short…what was there to say really beyond “I’m sorry” and “I love you”…
I placed the note in my roommate’s room so she’d find it in the morning….walked into the bathroom and opened the bathroom cabinet. I grabbed the bottle of pills and filled a glass with water. I walked back into my room, shut the door, and locked it.
I remember opening the pills and filling my hand. There was no pause…no question whether this was what I wanted to do…I had reached my limit so quickly…and the darkness was so dark….I felt there was no other choice.
I swallowed all the pills I could hold…chased them down with water…and laid down to go to sleep. That’s all it was…going to sleep…forever. No more pain…disappointment…betrayal…loneliness. Finally peace.
I don’t remember what happened next….but somehow I ended up at the hospital…chugging a thick, black mixture called “charcoal” to make me throw up. There stood a young doctor — probably a resident — telling me how lucky I was and asking a series of questions to determine how much of a risk I was to myself.
I have no idea how, but I was released after a few hours without a psych eval…just a threat that if anything like this happened again, I’d be admitted for the mandatory observation period. I had managed to dodge two really big bullets. I was alive…and free to go.
My roommates and I never talked about what happened and the relationship…if that’s what you’d call it…with the boyfriend gradually disintegrated over the course of two excruciating years of near constant cheating (on his part, not mine).
Besides two other people, this is the first time I’ve admitted to this dark time in my life. I’m not proud of how I handled the situation…cowardly trying to back out of a life that presented one too many challenges at a time. Since that day in college, I’ve never contemplated such drastic measures…and never will. I’ve faced far harder times since but nothing has felt quite like that night.
We all know to be kind to people. We’ve all heard the adage to remember that everyone is dealing with something. But until we see that even one of the funniest humans can be so depressed that he takes his own life…that he sees no other way out…until we’re faced with that news…or the news that a friend attempted suicide at a young age…until then…we forget.
Don’t forget. Life is too valuable to forget. If you’re depressed…or simply need someone to talk to…please, get help. Talk to a therapist…attend a support group…confide in a friend. None of us have to go it alone. And there’s always a light in the darkness…I promise…just sometimes we can’t see it.
Today, I’m happier than I ever could have imagined. That happiness is a result of all the pain and obstacles…of all the trials and turmoil. But I’m only able to feel it because I’m still here. Because I’m alive. I believe we’re never given more than we can handle. I truly believe that…now. We just have to learn how to carry it so it doesn’t crush us….and if we can’t carry it, we need to ask for help.