A few months ago I started writing a book on depression titled A Guidebook for the Young and Depressed. The purpose of the book was to help other young people help themselves feel better by sharing my very own struggle with depression.
I was working on the book but it was moving slowly as things kept getting in the way. There was no urgency to it and I let the other things distract me. However, when I found out about Robin Williams' death I knew I needed to finish it soon.
The day I found about his death was a bittersweet day. That day I found my article got published on Rebelle Society. I was excited, it was my first article published somewhere else besides my blog. Then I heard the news from a friend. I knew Robin had died, but I didn't know how. The how changed everything.
Gut wrenched I trawled the internet for more information and I ended up reading some terrible things that were being said about Robin Williams. There was good stuff but not enough. People had said that because he took his own life he was a coward. The coward part really hurt. How could people say that about someone who died of an illness? Don't they know better?
Depression is not a bad mood or a feeling that can go away easily. It's an illness that slowly takes you over. If someone contracted malaria and died because they didn't get the right help we don't call them cowards because they failed to make themselves well by themselves. We know they needed the right treatment and died because they couldn't get it. Depression is the same, it's an illness that requires the right kind of help for it to improve. And sometimes, even the right kind of help isn't enough.
Here in Australia suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians. It accounts for more deaths in a year than car accidents. It's such a big issue, but we as individuals and as a collective are so unequipped to deal with it. We make a huge deal about driving safe ( which is great!), so much that we need to log in 120 hours as a learner driver to be eligible to sit our test to get our probationary licence. But I knew nothing about mental illness until it hit me. I was not prepared for it. There was no 120 hour practice time to learn about how mental illness can kill you.
I feel guilty because I am not part of the solution. I feel maybe, with a chance of 0.00001%, if I had written my book he wouldn't have died. If not, at least there would be less people saying terrible things about him because they understood depression for what it is - the black hole that keeps pulling you into its darkness, not fully sated, until it engulfs you completely.
My procrastination, my lack of action on my book has made me a bystander. Because I know that unless more people speak about mental illness more deeply it will remain a stigma. It will continue to be seen as a character flaw, a weakness when it really isn't. It's an illness with causes, triggers and physiological changes to the body and the mind.
I am moved to action by the recent events to put something useful into the world on the topic of depression. I feel that everyday I keep this book within me and not out there someone is missing out on something that could help them.
What I crave now and in this life of mine is to help people to feel okay. A Guidebook For The Young and Depressed is coming very soon on September 10th. No more delays.
With love & simplicity,