We must keep the dialog going.

I made my own card, because, sometimes, even Hallmark can't capture my feelings.
My heart goes out to those that suffer.

A dialog was started the day Robin Williams took his life. A dialog about depression and mental illness and suicide. In the last few days, Facebook and Twitter feeds have exploded with compassion and comments about the realities of mental illness, that it is a medical illness and requires treatment just as any illness does. People are openly sharing their stories of personal pain.  This is a dialog far past due and one that is too important to let die down. Mental illness should carry no shame, only offers of support for the sufferer and their loved ones. When one suffers, all hurt.

Sadly, our society rarely views it that way, labeling those that are ill as weak or broken. Weak, they often are, broken down from an illness that the sufferers neither chose nor is “fixable” with a simplistic, “Get over it.” Far too often, they suffer silently and alone.

Mental illness is insidious. It hides in the dark corners, eventually consuming the mind if there is no treatment. There is no known “cure” for mental illness, only treatment. However, the right treatment can be hard to pinpoint, time consuming, and quite expensive, limiting those who have access. Additionally, much like cancer, mental illness spreads through the body. Physical symptoms are very real, further complicating a correct diagnosis and treatment. Often, the sufferers will try to self medicate through drugs or alcohol. Perhaps, it’s the only treatment plan they can afford or have access to. Perhaps, it is the only one they feel works.

Regardless of the treatment, sometimes it is not enough. Robin Williams clearly tried to get help, and he wasn’t weak. He hurt. Deeply. Far deeper than many of us will ever know. But, if not us, it is likely we know or will know someone who hurts that deeply, someone who is waiting for a hand to reach into the darkness and not let go.

Robin Williams death was a terrible, terrible loss for the world. His comedic genius brought laughter into an often gray world. However, just as I thank him for the laughs he gave me so often, I thank him for starting a dialog, one that must not end.

(4 years ago last February I lost my brother to suicide. I wrote this post to put a “real face” to those who suffer from mental illness. Please, if you or someone you know needs help, reach out. Yours may be the hand that saves a life.)

Know the signs….

From the Suicide Prevention Lifeline website:

The following signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. The risk of suicide is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs, seek help as soon as possible by calling the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.

  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.

  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.

  • Talking about being a burden to others.

  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.

  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.

  • Sleeping too little or too much.

  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.

  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.

  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

If you or someone you care about is in a crisis and need help right away:

Call this toll-free number, available 24 hours a day, every day: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You will reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a service available to anyone. You may call for yourself or for someone you care about. All calls are confidential.

14 thoughts on “We must keep the dialog going.”

  1. Oh Mary, I am so sad and sorry for the loss if your brother. What a terrible tragedy for your family and so heartbreaking that your brother felt his life was not worth living. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope, as you do, that the conversation continues.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry for your loss. I hope that your message is getting out to those who might need it. I have always had compassion for all, including those who have things to deal with like mental illness and even more problems than that. I too have lost 2 family members in the past few years to suicide but they had excellent care and support. They were both happy and did not want to do what they did. Sometimes even the best help and support does not work in that one small weak moment. We can’t judge. We can support. I tend to see more support than not for those in need.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss. Suicide, unfortunately, touches all of our lives — for some it gets closer than it does for others. I, too, hope that the dialogue that Mr. Williams’ death has created will continue, but I fear that it won’t. For those who need help, there are shadows lurking everywhere; for those who can give help I hope they can reach into the darkness and save someone from the abyss.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your story was riveting, and I am shocked and saddened. Tears rolling down my face, for you, for your brother and for your entire family. Because, as you said, he took his own life and it left those behind to deal with their emotions.

    I wish I knew you then – I don’t know what I’d say, but I would’ve hugged you for weeks, no months, and never let go.

    You are a gifted writer, Mary, and you moved me so much. I will never forget this story. I hope it will create a dialogue about suicide and depression.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, Mary, I am so sorry. You are doing a huge service by sharing this painful, personal story which seems to be way more common than anyone could have realized. I hope Robin Williams’ tragic death will open the conversation and shut down the stigma so people can ask for and receive the help they so desperately need. My heart goes out to you and I’m wrapping you in a big hug.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lois. I can feel the warmth of your arms. I know many would rather mental illness not be discussed beyond hushed voices, but we must. It is time to peel back the layers of shame and offer help and hope to those that suffer.


  6. Thank you for sharing this. I am so sorry for your loss, but full of admiration for your energy and efforts to continue the dialog. I have seen so many examples of people coming forward in the past few days, saying, “yes, me” that I believe it will make a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kim. I debated on waiting to post this until/when the dialog dies down, as I fear it will. But, my hope is that this discussion will be passed like a baton in a relay race without end.


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