September 19, 2014

Awareness shouldn’t depend on fame

By Jesse Karbowski
Posted

The death and apparent suicide of actor Robin Williams has brought to light the real-life tragedy of suicide. It’s sad that in our society it takes a celebrity to bring aspects of life into the mainstream media.

There have been millions of tweets and Facebook posts about how we’ve lost such a great person. Which is in fact true, but what good do they do now?

A great comedian, father, friend and son has taken his life. Hundreds of people commit suicide daily. Thousands more have suicidal thoughts, and attempt or make plans to commit suicide. I’m sure everyone reading this has someone in their life right now that has thought of or even committed suicide.

As a society, we don't look past a fake, superficial smile to see if someone is truly hurting. I’ve lost more than a handful of friends and acquaintances to suicide, and it still hurts to think about it today. It's good that Williams’ death won’t be in vain and it’s bringing some light to the problem of suicide. But it shouldn’t take a celebrity to do this.

That’s what frustrates me. It’s always a celebrity that causes an uproar on serious issues, and then in a few weeks it dies down and everything is forgotten.

I deal with a few emotional issues, a couple of which are manic depression and anxiety disorder. This is something I’ve kept to myself for many years, but if I can let it out and maybe be able to help one person who also deals with it and finds the need to hide it, it’ll be worth it.

I’ve dealt with depression throughout my life, but it never hit me as hard as it did over the last year. I had thought about suicide growing up, and even attempted it once. But about five months ago, the darkness was so bad, I was in such a bad place, that I actually scared myself for the first time ever. I knew something wasn’t right and that if I didn’t do something, I wasn't going to be around.

I was sick of putting on a fake smile every day for more than four years and basically my whole life. I was sick of never feeling like I could get ahead. Sick of feeling like I was never good enough for anyone or anything. Sick of feeling like a failure and that I let the few people I cared about in my life down. The stress of being a single father and working two jobs to get by and always feeling alone became too much. I felt that no matter what I did, I was never going to be the father I wanted to be.

I understand that to most people these things seem trivial and unimportant, but to someone with depression, they take precedence over all the good thoughts you try to push yourself to think and focus on.

Thankfully, I had a few people that I trusted enough to tell that I was scared and didn’t know what to do, and for the few of them I am forever thankful and appreciative.

For the first time in my life, I actually considered going to a doctor and even possibly taking medication. Something I pride myself in, which may just be stupidity, is the fact that I’ve always dealt with my depression, anxiety and manic episodes on my own.

I’m sure I've lost plenty of friends because of this. My episodes get pretty bad. Going from an extreme high to a devastating low in less than a few minutes is hard enough on me; I can’t imagine how it is for someone in my life.

I thought about making the call to a doctor for a few days, but figured I’d give the Suicide Prevention Hotline a try just to see what it was about. I wanted to be able to keep my pride intact. I made the call, and couldn't believe how amazing that person made me feel. In less than 10 minutes I felt like I was talking to a friend of years who actually cared about what I had to say. I was able to open up about my recent breakup and falling out with my best friend, the loss of my dad, the problems I had as a kid, everything.

It was amazing, and since that day I have felt like a new person. Of course, I still deal with my problems; because it is a disease it won’t just go away. But I’ve found ways to cope with things, and I feel like I am an amazing person. I just have a few jagged edges that hopefully someone will be able to accept one day.

Depression is a horrible thing, and not everyone can deal with it. People tend to think you’re just able to “look at the good things,” but people with severe disorders sometimes can’t see that.

I always tried to look at my son, Draven, as the one thing I always had as a light. But even the darkness can blind you to the things you hold more dear than anything.

I pride myself in being a good listener. I’ll listen to anyone talk about anything, because I’ve very rarely had someone I felt I could do that to who actually listened and cared.

My reason behind writing this is to just acknowledge that I know how hard it is to push on sometimes, but I still try to bring a smile to someone each day because it may just be the thing they needed to push them away from the edge, to show them people do still care.

You’re not weak. You’re not alone. Be strong.

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