Call depression what it really is… in memory of Robin Williams, RIP

We are all reeling from the death of Robin Williams. Suicide shocks. Always. I feel as though a tsunami gestalt process has begun as a result of this particular human being given his social position. I wish it didn’t come to us this way.

I want to bow deeply in honor to this funny man and thank him for his time of service on this earth. Thank you Robin Williams.

I also am posting a few thoughts that have arisen today and some information about suicide so that we might learn to be profoundly present to the pain of others…that we might learn to support those living with suicidal feelings….


From a Facebook status update on the Beyond Meds page:

Call depression what it really is: Despair, loneliness, helplessness, melancholy, pain, anguish, discouragement, misery, sorrow, wretchedness, shame…

The term depression obfuscates and distances…it’s meaningless

My husband read that and shared this:

this is what William Styron wrote about the word “depression“:

“for over seventy-five years the word has slithered innocuously through the language like a slug, leaving little trace of its intrinsic malevolence and preventing, by its very insipidity, a general awareness of the horrible intensity of the disease when out of control.”  (from Vanity Fair, Darkness Visible)

Here William Styron further expresses his experience:

darkWhat I had begun to discover is that, mysteriously and in ways that are totally remote from normal experience, the gray drizzle of horror induced by depression takes on the quality of physical pain. But it is not an immediately identifiable pain, like that of a broken limb. It may be more accurate to say that despair, owing to some evil trick played upon the sick brain by the inhabiting psyche, comes to resemble the diabolical discomfort of being imprisoned in a fiercely overheated room. And because no breeze stirs this caldron, because there is no escape from this smothering confinement, it is entirely natural that the victim begins to think ceaselessly of oblivion.  – from Darkness Visible

William Styron also speculates in that piece that his depression was made far more virulent by the psychiatric drugs he was prescribed for sleep. Benzodiazepines are, indeed, notorious for creating dark hell zones.

To actually use descriptive terms makes it real. It makes it human. Depression is a clinical term that does nothing but distance us from the pain of others.


and see also:


Suicide: Stay, because we need each other

Below the interview from On Being is a list of links to posts to help us learn to be profoundly present to the pain of others…that we might learn to support those living with suicidal feelings….

I like this idea which Jennifer Michael Hecht paraphrases at one point: “Have respect for your future being.” I say, yes to that.

From On Being: is a lovely and nuanced discussion about suicide.

Listen here:

dove-of-peace“Your staying alive means so much more than you really know or that anyone is aware of at this moment.”

Philosopher, historian, and poet Jennifer Michael Hecht has traced how western civilization has at times demonized those who commit suicide, at times celebrated it as a moral freedom. She proposes a reframed cultural conversation, based not on morality or rights but on our essential need for each other.

By Jennifer Hecht: Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It

More on this topic from Beyond Meds:

●  DIVINE SUICIDE: Depressive Breakdown as a Call to Awakening – “I have seen far too many people in the care of social services and standard mental health care grossly retraumatized rather than helped when feeling their most vulnerable because people do not understand this loving, accepting and healing approach. It’s based in deep trust for the process of the individual who presents themselves in front of you. Listen. Love.”

●  A conversation about suicide – “This conversation in the below video with Adyashanti is so refreshing. It’s absolutely true that those who are suicidal are all too often met with terror and control. Most people who feel suicidal need to talk about it. Approaching people with love and openness means NOT being terrified of that persons dark places. And not reacting in a knee-jerk and controlling manner. That has never allowed anyone to feel safe to open up about the painful vulnerability they are most assuredly experiencing when feeling suicidal.”

●  Six Ways You Can Really Help Prevent Suicide – by Leah Harris “I tried to kill myself when I was 14. It wasn’t the first time. My psychiatrist had just upped my Prozac, a whole lot of unresolved early childhood trauma had flared up at puberty, and the baseline sadness and confusion I felt mushroomed into an overwhelming desire to die. The thoughts wouldn’t leave me alone: Everything I could think of circled back only to suicide. I wrote out a suicide note and made an attempt.  I won’t go into the horrors of waking up alive in an emergency room where the staff was clearly annoyed they had to deal with me and my “attention seeking” behavior.”

●  Living with suicidal feelings  — By Will Hall “It’s time for a new understanding of suicidal feelings. Is it really best to force someone into the hospital when they are suicidal? Do suicidal feelings plus “risk factors” really mean professionals can predict whether someone might try to kill themselves? And are suicidal feelings the symptom of a treatable illness that should include medication prescription?”

●  A suicide prevention poster from the Icarus Project – “Most of the suicide-prevention posters I’ve seen (admittedly not that many – the topic is still pretty taboo in our society), are aimed solely at the loved ones and close friends of the person in danger.  How to recognize the signs of suicidality, who to call, etc.  Somewhat helpful, I guess, but shouldn’t we be addressing, in some way, the person who is actually considering this extreme action?  It’s as if the assumption is that person is beyond reason, beyond understanding (if you want to get explicit about it, not really human anymore), so there’s no point talking to him.”

●  Many psychiatric symptoms remit upon drug withdrawal – including suicidal impulses –  ”Something that comes up quite often in discussions with my friends and readers who have been on meds and have come off of them is how many of the “psychiatric” symptoms they were being “treated” for disappear upon discontinuation of the medications. This is widely known and experienced among those of us who have decided to stop medicating ourselves.” (**warning – rapid or cold-turkey withdrawal can often inflame psychiatric symptoms (including feelings of hurting oneself) for some time. For safer withdrawal practices see here.)

●  Psychiatric Drugs as Agents of Trauma — “Drug Stress Trauma Syndrome” –  ”This article is written by Charles Whitfield, MD, a psychiatrist, who has recognized the trauma these drugs can create for a very long time. It’s clearly an important read.”

●  A video with Will Hall on this subject: On suicidal thoughts

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