Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Black Dog

     As I noted previously, it has been a bit of a tough weekend, so when I heard about Robin Williams' death, I was unsure whether or not I wanted to mention anything about it.  I've read a number of good articles and early tributes, and I didn't think I would have anything to add to the discussion.  I certainly enjoyed much of his oeuvre. In fact, I found him to be a very good character actor who strove to make his characters breathe, didn't simply rehash versions of himself over and over again.  Of course you could see his comedic side come through in many of his choices, but his characters were unique, and some even exceptional - I can still vividly recall the movie Insomnia with Al Pacino (2002).  His performance stuck with me for a long time, disturbing me.  And everyone of a certain age with a creative bent has a Dead Poet's Society (1989) line or two memorized. 
     When I heard of his death on the way home last night, I was sad for his children and the grandchildren that will never get to know him.  Apparently, his good friends and family knew that he suffered with depression and mental health issues, and although he talked about a lot of his demons in his comedy, it's probably a testament to his acting skills that the majority of the world had no idea how much pain he was in.  I'm sad that he wasn't able to ask for help yesterday, so that someone could take his hand ... and if he did ask for help, that person will have to live with the knowledge that they should have taken it seriously.  I think many more of us have contemplated suicide then would care to admit to out loud.  Couple that with the stigma associated with mental illness in this country, and it makes it that much harder to get the help you might need without fear of reprisal.     
     Personally, we have dealt with depression, mental health issues and struggles with suicide amongst our friends and family.  These topics are nothing to be embarrassed about, and in fact, when hidden within families make it that much harder for you to understand your past, understand why you may wrestle more with your demons then others do.  If you are suffering in a dark place, if the black dog seems to be just at the corner of your eye, please know that you are precious and important ... know that there is a reason why you are here on this planet, even if it feels like that can't possibly be true.  Talk to a friend, religious advisor, employer, teacher, coach.  Please.
     And if a friend or someone you love and value trusts you enough to tell you how much they hurt, how they can see no other option ... please take it seriously.  They're asking you to give them a reason to stay here.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255


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