Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spady, Suicide and Depression

Click here for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline

I am once again faced with the sadness of reading about a famous person’s depression and suicide. Like so many others I woke this morning to read of and hear about the tragic death in Paris, France of Chef and CNN show host Anthony Bourdain.

I watched his show maybe once, ever. But knew of him through interviews and commercials. Its not my knowledge of his death that saddens me. Its the suicide. Along with the death earlier this week of fashion designer Kate Spady we are all reminded of how fame, fortune, and accomplishment are not enough to fend off the terrible grips depression can have on people. It’s power can feel overwhelming. And it can take lives leaving behind a wake of incomprehensible grief for those who knew the deceased. As in the examples of Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spady, Tyler Hilinski in January, and Robin Williams a few years ago; one doesn’t need to personally know someone to be effected.

I have never attempted suicide. I have thought about it.

The betrayal of my ex-wife and the associated circumstances that lead to our divorce after 28 years of marriage caused me to fall into an almost deadly depression. For nearly 2 years I struggled to make it through each day. I cried every day. It got so bad that crying become a necessary comfort. I remember times when if it got late in the day and I realized I hadn’t cried that day, I would make myself cry because I felt I had to cry to feel normal. The will to continue living is weakened in such circumstances. The will to end it and stop the pain grows. Obviously for some ending it all becomes the solution they see as their only option. I felt that way, way to often. It’s frightening to think back on those times now.

If I could say anything to help those suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts it would be these two things. Not all people care about you. But some do. Some do very much. The other thing is that you can find salvation, literally, through God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

When I discovered my ex-wife’s cheating and she confessed it and then all the lies and false and incomplete stories came to light I knew right away I would need help. I knew the feelings in me were too strong and too destructive to try and cope on my own. After meeting with and rejecting several counselors and counseling services I turned to my church. My church provided a counseling service I had previously never known about. It provided me a new friend and sound wisdom in the face of irresponsibility and illogical behavior I was faced with every day.

I prayed every day. I read the Bible. I read lots of books. Most of the books I read were self-help books or biographies of successful people I admired. Not surprisingly I kept finding in these books a recurring theme. God was at the center of many people’s success. So, while I always felt I led a good life and believed in Christ; I made a more deliberate effort to pray, read the Bible and eliminate from my character and my behaviors things that were in conflict with God’s teachings. I am also not ashamed to admit reading the Bible and studying it taught me how to accomplish so much more in life and in my relationships. While I had led a good life. I was still doing much wrong, that I didn’t realize. I’ve done much better since. I will continue to improve.

The other thing about depression is that friends and family tire of your depressed state. Initially you can find all the support you can handle. Everyone has a sympathetic ear and kind words of wisdom and support. But as your depression lingers or if it goes away and returns many of these same people ostracize you. They stay away. They no longer want to be part of your problems. You have worn them out.

It’s easy to understand, to a point. Nobody wants to be around a sad person all the time. This sad or depressed person can bring you down and effect your own life. But, there is a difference between a negative person who is always grumbling and having a glass is half-empty view on life versus someone who is depressed. If you are the friend or family member of someone who is depressed, I urge you to hang in there. Don’t turn away from them. And realize you can positively change their life for the better. The perpetually negative half-empty glass type of person is someone you want to avoid. But the depressed person can be helped. If you were there for them at the start of their depression. Be there at the end. You and they will reap the rewards of a closer relationship in the future.

I lost friends and family through my depression. They are gone now and probably don’t care that I have rebounded and am a happy person again. I have found love. And while I now know that falling back into the spiral of depression is something I am susceptible to doing, I am wiser for having come through it and can fend it off on the occasions when it creeps back into my conscious.

So help those that you can. Share God’s word. And if you are suffering yourself be proactive in combatting your depression. Take steps. The pain can go away and happiness can be your end story.

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

 

Robin Williams’ Death Scared Me

The Dark Tunnel

Depression is insidious. It’s a dark tunnel from which seeing the light is difficult. And when depression grabs you and holds you in its clutches its very hard to escape. When you’re a victim of depression you may find time and again reasons to carry on. But usually you’re only saved by the end of the day, or by a phone call from a friend. Getting through the day becomes the top priority, and a considerable challenge for those with depression. But time and again you do it. Time and again you overcome. And then…the next day comes.

Robin Williams couldn’t get through the day, yesterday. The end of the day or that phone call from a friend never came. He was trapped in his despair as he apparently had been many times in his life. But this time he failed to make it out alive. From what we know about this brilliantly talented man he successfully overcame his demons time and time again. But they kept returning. It’s like he gave us all so much; so much of his energy and his joy that when left to himself he had none left, he had no reservoir from which we all tap into in our souls, our minds, our hearts, our faith. From wherever Robin Williams achieved the self-preservation instinct to check himself into substance abuse rehab repeatedly, including last month, he couldn’t find it yesterday.

Darkness Comes with DepressionFor those like myself who had stared the blackness of depression in the face it represents a particularly scary event. I found myself asking “If this universally loved man can be taken by depression what’s to happen to me if my despair returns?”. And I asked,”If this man feels unloved, insignificant, or in some way a failure…what about me?”

Prior to eight months ago I didn’t know depression or understand it. I thought it was equivalent to sadness, which like everybody else I have experienced many times in my life. I thought depression might just be sadness x 2. It’s not. It’s sadness x 1000. It’s sadness on steroids with a jet rocket pack strapped to its back. It’s not what I thought. It’s so much worse.

When first depression hits many friends and acquaintances are curious and perhaps caring enough to lend an ear. But usually that’s about it. It’s an ear. After the depression lingers even close friends drift away. They don’t understand and they don’t want to be dragged down by the depressed person’s mood, darkness, troubles. It takes the truly compassionate with a degree of understanding to provide assistance. And it takes professional help. Friends too often think a kick in the butt, or a pep talk should be sufficient to help the victim of depression. And when that proves insufficient they move on. A professional has the education and understanding and hopefully the compassion from which help can be supplied.

As I emerge from the darkest period of my life I can thank some truly helpful people. They include a family counselor from my parish, supplied to me and other church members at no cost. She has been a God send for me. I hired a business coach to keep me on-task with my company knowing my personal troubles might make the business falter or even fail. He has been tremendously effective in exactly what I needed from him. A single individual long time friend who has experienced that which I experienced has never failed to be there for me. Unlike so many others…he never faded away. Lastly, my son. He has seemed to sense my challenges, though I never revealed them to him and did my best to protect him from my shadows. His love and compassion, his hugs, and smiles have been beyond what I would have expected from such a young man. I miss him, since he’s out on his own building his own life, tackling his own challenges. But he pops in and never fails to lift my spirits.

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I know Robin Williams felt unloved, unsuccessful, insignificant, and as he grew older perhaps he had a fear of his future, of aging. I don’t know specifically. But I know these are the issues that trouble the depressed. Even someone who is as loved and successful as the comedian and actor who blessed our lives for 40 years. But I have turned away from my initial fear. I can’t accept that his fate is my fate. I’m a different person. Unlike him I don’t have a substance abuse problem. I will overcome and live in the moment, for my future is scary. It’s scary because its unknown. But I will climb on that roller coaster and forgo the merry go round.

You can help those who face depression by making them feel significant, accomplished and loved. That’s what they need. And if they need it more than others…so be it. Give it to them. You are never diminished by holding someone up. Know that you are enhanced. And you too are significant and loved.

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