This is my longest post I have done. If you read anything read the last paragraph that is bolded. However if you have some time please read. It may be information that might be useful for someone you know in the future.
I think this week made a lot of people think. I tend to not care too much about the struggles celebrities say they have. You know what I mean, “I was teased for my weight” or “My parents didn’t love me” – these sorts of headlines that I feel are contrived for the sole purpose of publicity and aren’t truly real “struggles” average everyday people do encounter and overcome. However, the suicide of Robin Williams – this one got to me in a very deep and profound way. Maybe it’s because one of our most beloved Americans stunned us with his decision to end his life or maybe it was because it was personal to me? Either way, if any good can come out of such a tragedy I hope it is that it is bringing the silent disease of depression to light in its’ darkest form.
I imagine that most of the world is shocked that someone who could make us smile, laugh, love and seemed to have it all could be depressed. The bottom line is that depression can hit anyone and money, fame, prestige have nothing to do with avoiding it.
The interesting thing is that he was loved by EVERYONE. There are very few celebrities in this day and age that everyone adores which is why I think it’s so shocking. I think that is what happens when you are dealing with comedic icons. They make us laugh and smile so we innately love them regardless of their flaws. All over the news today all you hear is talking heads discussing “what drives someone who has it all to take their own life? Why do they do it? What could they possibly be depressed about?” I don’t think anyone can understand unless they have bottomed out from depression and no matter the valor of their efforts can’t seem to bring themselves back up to the surface. I am guessing this is what happened. Rehab and all the other courageous efforts just couldn’t do the job so he couldn’t live that way any longer. It’s so heartbreaking to me not just for his family but for him as well.
Depression is far more prevalent that we realize mainly because most don’t speak about it due to the stigma it carries. In fact it is said that men ages 45-65 are actually at 4 times great risk for suicide because they are more likely to keep these issues to themselves whereas more women will make the effort to reach out for help. For those that end their lives in lieu of their depression I don’t believe we should judge. I feel this way because their depression is so debilitating and crushing that I don’t believe it’s that they don’t care about what their loved ones will be dealing with afterwards, but rather they feel they are so beyond the point of being helped they believe they are relieving them of a burden in a way. I am not opting to start an argument, just offering an opinion.
Why would I write about such a topic on my happy, loving blog all about kindness? I felt compelled to write about it because it was me at one time. Fortunately for me I didn’t sink so far down that suicide was the path but in hindsight I feel it could have been. I will never be sure why I chose to intervene before it got so bad it was irreversible but I am just one of the fortunate ones I suppose. I know the causes, why it compiled the way it did and the events that pushed me into that direction. For me, although private, it was very clear. However the thing I didn’t know is when those things occurred the lasting affect it can have and the path it can take. I met plenty of people that ended up like Robin Williams so in that aspect I consider myself incredibly lucky and blessed.
Many people don’t even realize the depression they have sunk into until it is to the point of a crisis. If you feel this is you (on the verge or having a level of depression) there are some things you can do:
- Digital detox: it easier and easier for us to hide behind our iPads, computers, phones, you name it. Technology is great but it cuts us off from the human contact that we need for our mind and soul. Take a day or two to detox from these things and reconnect with friends any way you can
- Exercise: Endorphins. End of story. It has proven to chemically help ward off depression. It is not a cure-all but I speak from experience the benefits.
- Balance: Try and find a good balance in your life. Meditation, social time, family time, work in moderation and know where that balance was for you prior to depression
- Correct negative thinking: One literally has to hold up a STOP sign in their head and turn the negative talk around to something more productive. It’s not an easy feat but essential
- Sleep: Sleep helps your stress levels, mood, regenerates and rejuvenates your body. Clearly I haven’t mastered this one but I do try when I can
- Nutrition: when depressed you are inclined not to eat. Eat well, the right things to nourish your body and consult your Dr. on which vitamins will help your mood and well-being
- Try to continue to engage in social activities: again human interaction can never be underestimated. Many times you won’t feel like it but it is essential for improvement in depression.
Here is where the kindness part comes in. if you know someone going through depression whether it be long term or short term many times you want to know how you can help. Again from experience, in my opinion here is what you can do to help your friend or loved one in need:
- Be there: Remember my last post about The Gift of Time. I said these friends just sat there and sometimes said nothing. But it was the best thing they could have done.
- Try a small gesture: Call to just say you miss them or are thinking of them. Drop off some food or send a fun card. Offer to get them out of the house. Be encouraging and positive. It may not work but the valiant effort will be noted and appreciated
- Don’t judge or offer advice: Generally it is already coming from all angles. This could make things worse so the best thing to do is just to be as supportive as possible
- Be patient: Not everyone winds up feeling better like me, but not everyone ends up like Mr. Williams either. It takes a long time to process and work to the level in which you are capable in your depression. Could take weeks, could take years. Just continue to do the above and you can know you are doing everything you can.
I have mentioned I am a fairly open person but not on this this topic. I can count on one hand who knows this about me other than family. And those that know about it won’t believe it when they read this post that I just decided to share it with the world. For those that know me and my upbeat demeanor this information will shock them so it was something I really thought about before sharing. Ultimately I wanted to share and my reasoning is simple – it shouldn’t have to come to what happened to Robin Williams and it saddens me that many times it does. I am not saying these things will prevent it, I just believe that more people need to be educated about it and know the signs when they see them.
I have been asked so many times why I chose to invest time and money into the Infinite Smile Project. Everyone that knows me knows my plate is already incredibly full and it seems senseless to add more. This is why: it makes me incredibly happy. I read that the single most influential thing you can do to create happiness is acts of kindness. I didn’t know this when I started but it makes sense to me now. When I say teaching my kids kindness and making others happy has changed my life I mean it. I cannot express enough the power acts of kindness, philanthropy, expressions of love and generosity and connection with all walks of humanity can change ones’ life. I challenge everyone to try it. Be kind to everyone you meet, connect with strangers, give to as many as you can, rebuild burned bridges, express your emotions, and apologize when necessary. Then throw out a few good things to the universe and you will see it all comes back. Tenfold……I promise.