AN OPEN LETTER TO THOSE OF YOU WHO GIVE A DAMN ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH

Dear BISIG* members and supporters:
*Biopsychosocial Support & Interaction Group

By now you have heard of the unfortunate news that the great actor Robin Williams has taken his own life by asphyxiation through hanging. This saddens me to no end because he was one of us, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder aside from battling drug addiction and alcoholism. Robin’s death means that another one of us has succumbed to the most fatal consequence of an untreated mental illness or severe depression in particular: death by suicide.

All of us have cycled through our erratic moods throughout our lives. We’ve been there. We know. But you know what? We can’t presume to know anything about what Robin himself was going through. Each of our agonies is our own. We know well enough not to judge one another as we go through our “dark night(s) of the soul,” for there are many of those nights, indeed.

We’ve been there. We know.

Being depressed, in my personal experience, is being devoid of all feeling. My movements become listless and mechanical. I just want to stay in my room with the curtains drawn. My mind is so slow and uninspired, and there is such a psychic pain that is too deep for words that it cries out for release. When the depression is already this severe, I begin to seriously entertain the thought of ending my life, or as the euphemism goes, “I just want to disappear.”

When I am already at this point, nothing matters anymore. I become blasphemous: I simply don’t care anymore that taking my life would offend a Supreme Being or that taking my life would surely devastate my family and friends. I simply do not care anymore. But deciding to commit suicide is rarely the selfish decision that people with so little understanding consider it to be.

To the person about to commit suicide, what they’re probably thinking is that they don’t want to be a burden to their caregivers anymore so the family will be better off with him/her dead. Other reasons may justify the act in the mind of the afflicted that is already twisted with unbearable pain and despair. In the final analysis, who can ever understand why those “completed suicides” committed the ghastly deed?

Please bear with us.

I wish that people who do not have this terrible affliction (bipolar disorder, major depression, dysthymia, etc.) would begin to understand those of us who have one mental illness or another. Let’s keep the conversation open and loving. Let us be there for one another and PLEASE, remember that there is no shame or blame warranted when it comes to mental illnesses.

And for those of us who are battling depression now, please get help as soon as possible before your depression worsens. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SUFFER THROUGH YOUR DEPRESSION ALONE. Reach out to me, reach out to the group, reach out to your mental health professional, family, and the few friends who really understand you and are able to support you.

We thank God and Goddess for celebrities like Robin Williams for raising our consciousness about such a serious issue. I’m sorry that Robin has to die so that the spotlight can be focused on mental health. But just remember that suicide can also happen to ordinary people “leading lives of quiet desperation.” Let it not be you, let it not be me.

After I got through a very tough depressive period in my life years ago, I realized that hey, life is still worth living. YOUR LIFE IS WORTH LIVING.

Life may be painful sometimes, but it is always, always painfully beautiful.

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