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Robin Williams - tragedy of suicide

By: Debbie Swanepoel 2014-08-12 15:01

Hi.  My name is Debbie and I’m a suicide attempt survivor.  I actually survived it three times in the past year.  I am writing this article to try and create awareness of suicide and what goes through the mind of someone who attempts or heaven forbids, succeeds.  This is in light of the late Robin Williams who took his own life the 11th of August 2014.

I have heard several little comments and remarks along the way.  Things like: “He looked so happy” and “He’s Robin Williams, how could he kill himself?”  Then you get the religious ‘nutcases’ who immediately jump on the bandwagon to say that he woke up in hell and that he will never be allowed into heaven.  Now whether heaven exists or not, God does not judge those who try to commit or commit suicide.

It is known that Robin suffered from depression for longer than we know.  For many the word depression simply means someone feels sad and they should snap out of it.  Pray to God and you’ll feel better.  Yet they don’t know the utter anguish someone who suffers from mental illness goes through.  I know what it feels like to have your world shattered.  I know what it feels like to think that the pain will never go away and that suicide might be the only way out.

On 28 June 2013 I found out my husband of almost 19 years was cheating on me with my so-called best friend.  He upped and left my beautiful daughters and me the very next day.  My whole world just came apart.  I have been battling depression my whole life, ever since I was a little girl.  Back then though something like depression was a taboo topic and nothing was ever done.  I went through my teenage years and even my whole marriage as a young adult not knowing why I could not be happy.  I never understood why I would feel suicidal.  I had no clue as to how I’d rather stay home and lie in my bed than go out and be with friends.

The older I got the worse it got.  I was lucky though because I had a husband who always tried to understand and supported me.  He kept me alive during all these years.  When he left I was alone and had no one there to help me through it the way he did.  I gradually got more depressed and withdrew from people as far as humanly possible.  I lost weight by eating little to nothing.  I would cry daily and while these emotions are normal for someone who suffers a loss, I felt on a level most normal people don’t.  The pain got so bad that one day in October 2013 I snapped.

I tried to deal by going for a jog.  I got back and started hyper-ventilating.  The pain in my chest was not from the run but rather from a failed reconciliation attempt.  It got worse.  The next few hours and days felt like I was having an out of body experience.  Before I knew it I woke up to a paramedic next to my bed.  My father and my daughters were there.  I remember seeing their faces.  They were hurt and confused.  Then I woke up in ICU.  I spent the next 9 days in hospital receiving therapy from both my psychiatrist and psychologist.  It was only after that I got diagnosed with Bipolar Mood Disorder 2.  I got put onto anti-psychotics and anti-depressants.  After that I saw both my therapists on a regular basis.

In February 2014 the ex tried to reconcile again.  Once again the attempt failed and before I knew it I was back in hospital.  I overdosed yet again.  The sad thing is that I didn’t plan it.  The pain was too much to handle.  I NEEDED it to end immediately.  Once again my life was spared.

The therapy continued and I started making slow progress.  In April 2014 a huge misunderstanding between my eldest daughter and me led to my final attempt.  I was once again admitted to ICU but this time I felt different.  I did not want to stay in hospital like the other times.  I needed to get out of there and fast.

I saw the pain on my youngest daughter’s face and I felt like the world’s worst mother.  I decided there and then that there is nothing to be ashamed of in not only getting help but also depending on friends who told me over and over that they’re there for me.  I felt humiliated before.  I did not want to be a burden on anyone’s shoulders.  But the truth is I wouldn’t have been.

Those friends WANTED to help me.  They care about me and only want the best for me.  I never was nor will I ever be a burden on them.  And once I realized this, things started changing.  I realized that there was no shame in talking to someone or leaning on someone when things got dark.  I was prescribed additional medication which I initially did not want to take.  It ended up being the best thing I could do, taking them that is.

I now have a solid support system in place.  My daughters, family and friends have a better understanding now as I had them go to some sessions with me.  We work together and not against each other.  And when that darkness calls I don’t answer.  Instead I phone a friend or talk to my girls until I feel better.

I am lucky.  The therapy and medication are working miracles.  Sad thing is it took me three attempts to realize certain things.  I was lucky.  Robin was not.  If only there was no such thing as stigma…  If only people did not judge.  If only we could all realize there is no shame in having a mental illness and that there is treatment for it.  If only…

What am I trying to achieve with this little article again?  I want ‘normal’ people to know that this is a disease, not something to be ashamed of.  I want those who suffer to know there is no shame in asking for help and depending on those that care.  I want to do my little bit in helping someone, even if just one person.  Suicide might not be the answer but to those who suffer it seems the only answer.  Sometimes the only way out is through.  There is hope.  Don’t ever give up.

If you or anyone you know or love suffers from depression or has suicidal thoughts do not hesitate.  Get help immediately.  For more information visit www.sadag.org.  In emergencies call the Suicide Hotline one 0800 567 567 or SMS them on 31393 so they can return your call.  Do not become a statistic.  Become a victor.

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