This month we lost a talented, funny, amazing man.
A man who was a global star, a household name, an Oscar winner.
A man who was a husband, dad and father.
A man who on the surface had it all.
A man who was gripped by depression.
A man who struggled with depression, addiction and anxiety.
A man who just couldn’t get to grips with a diagnosis of Parkinsons.
A man who couldn’t carry on.
Robin Williams. RIP.
What makes this even more sad is that it takes such a high-profile tragedy and the death of an icon for the media and public to start talking openly about the ‘D’ word.
How can this be when figures show that 1 in 5 people in the Australia will experience a mental illness in any year. Every day, at least six Australians die from suicide and a further thirty people will attempt to take their own life.
Despite the figures, I think it is fair to say depression is a dirty word, a taboo subject, something scary that you would never want to admit to and others like to sweep under the carpet and instead talk about something a little more savoury.
Own up to it and it makes you weak, maybe a bit unsafe, unhinged, ‘mental’.
The thing about depression is that it doesn’t discriminate and it is a growing problem as the stresses of life increase.
Rich, poor, black, white, gay, straight, male female, good, bad, fat, thin – you are all fair game for an illness that can creep up and get you at anytime.
But that is it, it is an illness and one that no one would choose.
If you haven’t suffered then you would never use the words ‘but you have everything’ or ‘snap out of it’ and one the best ‘pull yourself together’.
These were words uttered to me by people who should have known better when I suffered Post Natal Depression with my first son.
Yes on the outside it may have looked like I had it all. Recently married to the man I love, a new house, lovely friends and family and a baby who cried and cried because he was lactose intolerant (we didn’t know this).
I had gone from being footloose and fancy free working in London with no real cares or worries to being a wife and mother in less than a year and there had a been a wedding and relocation too. I was totally overwhelmed, felt out of my deep, very lonely and life simply spiralled out of control. I felt ashamed and pathetic, yes I know I was lucky, I had a baby, I had the house, the clothes, my body went back to a size 8 in a matter of weeks but I had PND, a torrent of hormones, plaguing self-doubt and could not escape or cope.
I was lucky, I got help, had support, was loved and realised I was doing ok with my baby, that I could look after him, raise him and started to come out the other side. It was hard, I still feel guilty today for putting my husband through it and wish I had been one of those women who sailed through enjoying every moment, but that’s depression, it gets you and takes over.
When I heard Robin Williams had died this memories came folding back and I having looked on my social media feeds I think it was clear to see others were feeling the same. They were posting RIP messages, adding comments and quotes, ‘liking’ links for depression posts and sites.
It shows a level of solidarity, awareness and even admission, that mental health issues are out there and need to come out, be accepted, addressed and supported.
So many people are so good at putting on a show, covering the cracks and telling the world ‘I AM OK!’
However, behind closed doors, it can be so different.
The women with the perfect hair, 4×4 and gym membership may look like she has it all but look at the sad eyes and staff of Prozac in the glove box that reflect soaring credit card bills and husband who is playing away.
The teenage who got high distinctions at university, her parents are so proud but she is wearing a sweatshirt covering the scars on her arms caused by a razor.
Yes he has a city career, sharp suit and expense account but Mr Smith on the bus to work is teetering on the edge due to the stress of school fees, mortgage and a growing workload.
The thing is, depression is invisible, it is easy to hide but it is a dangerous killer and one we need to talk about and make ‘OK’.
All I can ask is that if you or someone you know is suffering from any mental health issues, be it addiction, anxiety, OCD, depression or self harm get help. It really is out there and life can be better. Talk to a family member, your GP or go online where there is a plethora of help available.
If you have diabetes, migraines or cancer, you would get help, so why not do the same for your mental health as your physical well-being?
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If you need to talk with someone, telephone Lifeline on 13 11 14.