I’m going to be brief today, yep very much in stark contrast to the jubilant energy of recent times. Rather than filling you in on what’s been going on I’m sharing the words of a young woman I came across yesterday who posted on Facebook about the sad death of Robin Williams. I hear so often from those of you who are living with depression and how it affects your daily life I felt her words were powerful poignant and educational.
It feels like a travesty and a tragedy that a brilliant but tortured individual should has taken his own life.
It illustrates how indiscriminate depression can be – we all know someone who has or is experiencing it to some degree whether they talk about it or not.
I considered putting a few words together about the legacy of suicide having experienced it first hand albeit long ago and then I read the post I’ll share in a moment.
First though I wanted to tell you about the student I taught twenty odd years ago in a local School of Nursing. She researched the subject of suicide for a project – after having tragically lost a friend I think it was her way of making sense of what had happened. The bit I want you to bring to your attention is how shocking it was at the time to realise that out of thirteen of us in the room there were only four people who’s lives had not been touched by someone taking their own life – be that through friends, family or acquaintances.
Yes, it’s energy sucking to think about it but depression is a sad fact of life and just because someone paints on a happy smile it doesn’t mean we know what’s going on behind the mask.
Many thanks go to Veronika Tugaleva www.vironika.org
Lessons from Suffering and Suicide:
Tribute to Robin Williams
Lesson #1: Happiness has nothing to do with what you have
Isn’t this what the depressed mindset says? If only I had this. If only I had that. If only I wasn’t more of this. If only I had more of that.
Well, Robin had it all, according to Western standards. And he still wasn’t happy. Our search for happiness outside of ourselves is widespread, infectious, and toxic. It infests everyone at every age, status, and gender.
Stop looking on the outside for answers. Look within.
Lesson #2: Suffering, unsolved, becomes worse
There is no way to put something aside, hoping it will go away. Our suffering, if we do not take arms up against it, will eat us alive.
Too often, people try to drown out their depression, anxiety, or self-hatred in television or work. Perhaps that is why Robin was so accomplished – he was always running from the monsters inside his head.
There is no way to run from something that is eating you from within. We must open the door to our demons and deal with them, until they beat that door down.
Lesson #3: The worst addiction is our addiction to our thoughts
This is the most important lesson, in my eyes, and one that I think needs to be spread across every single school in every single country in the world.
The most important thing we can do is learn to stop believing our thoughts.
I realized, after I made the choice to live, that my feeling suicidal originated in my unquestioning acceptance of every single thought I ever had as the truth. When I thought “I’m ugly” – I believed that. When I thought “I need to smoke” – I believed that. When I thought “I need to stop eating to feel good” – I believed that. When I thought “I need to die” – I believed that too.
That’s the real reason people kill themselves – they become addicted to a thought. They believe it so intensely that, eventually, they act on it.
We’ve got PTA groups all across the country crusading against violent music and television because it encourages teens to kill themselves, but it’s not the music or the movies or the video games. Our media is a reflection of our society. Our rates of mental health issues are through the roof – why wouldn’t our media represent that?
This is where it gets dangerous – suicide as a “solution” to pain is out there. It’s available. It’s everywhere. It’s out there and you can’t get it out of the awareness of a modern-day person any more than you can erase the fingerprints from your palms. Like a ripe apple, ready for picking, the thought “I could kill myself, then I wouldn’t feel any more pain” is available for any of us to think at any time.
It was in Cialdini’s book “Influence” that I learned about how public suicide rates skyrocket after a celebrity dies this way because it reminds people in that helpless state that suicide is an option. Yes, that’s right. Robin Williams killed himself this morning and, in a matter of hours, people all over the Western world will be killing themselves off like flies, because they, too, believe all of their thoughts.
In the East, this is common knowledge. Here, in the West, it’s a rumour, at most. We must stop believing everything we think. That is the only sane solution. That is how we prevent suicide. That is how we solve our building mental health crisis. And, until we start teaching people to do this on a mass scale, we’ll see more tragedies like Robin and we’ll be left wondering what happened while most of the world shakes their heads at us.
Robin’s death is a tragedy – yes, but it does not have to cut a hole of grief within us, making us even more helpless than we were before. The least we can do for this man is liberate ourselves from the very prison he could not escape.
For him, for all of us, take care of your thoughts. Practice self-awareness. Get to know your mind. Watch your thoughts without believing them.
That simple, consistent practice might just save your life and the sanity of our suffering world
Until next week take great care