Discriminate, It Does Not
Robin Williams committed suicide.
Everyone is talking about it. And that is only a good thing if we are talking about it for the right reasons.
Addiction is so personal to me and I am working on a post that goes much deeper than this, in hopes that if even one person changes their attitude when it comes to how we treat those who are suffering from mental illness or addiction, it will have been worth it to open up about my personal story. I have so much I want to say and I feel like it needs to be said right now, while people are still listening.
But for now…I will leave you with what I posted on my Facebook this morning:
I am having a hard time being on Facebook today.
Earlier this year it was Phillip Seymour Hoffman and before that, Corey Montieth, and not too long ago, it was Heath Ledger. Before that…Monroe, Joplin, Hendrix, Belushi, Farley, Houston, Jackson…the list is seemingly endless.
Robin Williams isn’t the only face of those suffering from mental illness and addiction; he is just the most recent famous one. Robin Williams has always been one of my favorite actors and the news of his untimely death saddens me greatly. But I am not shocked. The devil of mental illness and addiction will take people and swallow them whole. It robs them of reason and logic. It tells them that they are broken beyond repair.
And it does not discriminate.
We have so much sympathy when a celebrity dies. My Facebook is flooded with posts encouraging people not to judge others, reminding us that we don’t know what battles others are facing and to remember that it can happen to anyone. If only we had the same amount of compassion when it came to those suffering in our own backyards, as we do when it is a famous person. Because celebrities aren’t the only ones dying. Far too often, I see people chalk up a loss to drug use as another selfish life wasted. They are judged. Their inner struggles and battles are ignored and it is quickly forgotten that it can happen to anyone. But it can happen to anyone.
There is so much opportunity for us to educate ourselves about addiction and mental illness and more importantly, about why lives are ending far too soon. But we have to stop living under the notion that it can’t happen to us. It’s easier to think that drug addiction happens to other people; not your spouse, your kids, your siblings or your friends. No one you know. And certainly, not you. But that is a false sense of security. Here is the reality- it happens far more often than we want to believe. Chances are, that someone you know is suffering from mental illness or addicted to drugs right now. Chances are, someone you know is struggling to live.
Oh, and if you have been lucky enough to not been affected by addiction, be careful where you throw your stones because there are only two groups of people. Those who have been and those who will be.