Like millions of other people around the world, I greeted news of the death of Robin Williams with shock and disbelief. The sickening irony that a man who made us laugh time, and time again, being driven to suicide by his own overwhelming sadness is hard to comprehend.
Depression is the topic of the moment, filling up the feed on social media, urging people to seek help, to talk to someone, and it is good to see the taboo lifted, even for a while. Unfortunately, this focus will shift —all too soon— to the next ‘worthy’ news item, to the latest nomination craze, to the antics of some reality TV show, and the sufferers of depression will be left, as they were before, isolated, anxious, and lonely.
I consider myself lucky, while there have been times in my life that I have experienced grief, sadness, and trauma, it has never taken over, but I have seen people greatly affected by mental illness and depression. I make that distinction deliberately; for some illnesses — Bi-polar, schizophrenia etc.— there needs to be medical intervention and support, but for others — depression, anxiety etc — while medication may help, often symptoms can be alleviated with the right support, understanding, and sometimes just company.
I’ve often found that after traumatic events — death, separation, accidents — women seem to have better support networks than men; they can talk to their closest friends, and cry, grieve, shout — whatever they need — whereas men don’t always have that. I know I’m generalising, but in my experience it’s pretty much the case. Just last week, I was talking to a friend who confessed that after the breakdown of his relationship earlier this year, he was feeling lonely and isolated, and that he couldn’t open up to his closest circle of friends because he would be seen as weak. I disagreed, and told him that to be able to admit that you are hurting, and needing help was a sign of strength, not weakness, and I was encouraged that he agreed to contact a support agency for help.
Earlier this year, I organised a fundraiser, and the charity we chose was Mind Your Mate & Yourself, a not-for-profit organisation that simply aims to help those who are struggling with some aspect of their everyday life. It can act as a stepping-stone to other services — such as PIPS and Lifeline, and can provide access to independent counselling services.
This Saturday 16th August, MYMY are holding a fundraising coffee morning at Vanilla Restaurant, Newcastle from 09:30-11:30 – I will be there, selling copies of my novel How Will You Remember Me? as I am donating my royalties from the book to MYMY.
For anyone who is struggling with depression, anxiety, stress, sadness, or loneliness, please reach out; let someone know how you’re feeling. I think I speak for everyone when I say that it is far easier to ask ourselves what CAN we do to help, than wonder what we COULD have done, when it’s too late.