I know I’m not the only one seriously bummed about the death of Robin Williams. I see his face all over the Internet right now and I feel such sadness. I grew up watching his movies and to this day my sister and I quote him each and every time we call each other…invariably one of us starting the call with “Helloooo!” from Mrs. Doubtfire. We have also yelled, “Help is on the way, Dear!” from that same movie, when appropriate.
From Mrs. Doubtfire to Dead Poet’s Society and everything in between, his movies and comedy brought so much joy to my family. If our only copy of Aladdin wasn’t busted, and freakin’ Disney didn’t have it in the vault for what has seemed like forever, my kids and I would be watching it daily.
But I think what troubles me most about Williams’ death is the fact that suicide is how he died. It is troubling to me because I have thought about suicide before. I think about those lowest of low points, not too long ago actually, and feel grateful that my thoughts never manifested beyond those dark moments in my mind.
It wasn’t long ago that I set foot in my home having given birth to a sweet little Raquel. Now four, Raquel is the still the sweetest little girl, my little, silly, darling. As my family ogled over her for the first time, I cried in my bed upstairs and didn’t want to come down.
In the days and months that passed, I struggled with motherhood. I was crying or raging at the drop of a hat. I felt crazy and thinking we had done something terribly wrong by adding a third child to the mix, my husband sought help for us from a parenting coach.
I had a lot of scary suicidal thoughts…I remember walking past a kitchen knife and thinking about slitting my wrists with it. I’d think about slamming my head against a wall (not just figuratively as many parents talk about). I would think about driving off cliffs daily. I somehow thought inflicting physical pain would bring me relief or end my suffering. I felt so much shame for thinking these things knowing that I had everything going for me; a new baby, two other wonderful children, bills paid, a loving husband, etc.
It was an absolute miracle that our parenting coach was able to determine that rather than us having a parenting issue, I might be suffering from Post Partum Depression. She called in immediate mental health support for me and after a long six months of weekly therapy sessions, I returned to a more “normal” state and no longer thought about suicide.
I was relieved to learn that I was not to blame for my depression and that I wasn’t simply “spiritually unfit” as some might have suggested, but rather, I had a chemical imbalance very common in post partum women.
Because of my experience with Perinatal Mood Disorder (as it’s now more commonly called) I feel lucky because now I know when something doesn’t seem right to reach out for help. I know when I need to get out with the girls, take a break, or seek the help of a professional.
Since my bout with PMD, I have had another child. Harper is now two and I’m grateful that I didn’t deal with depression after her birth like I did after my pregnancy with Raquel. I have had moments of depression since, but nothing like what I went through four years ago.
Today, I am no stranger to therapy and I am open to taking suggestions from licensed professionals. I believe that just as one would take caution with a physical disease like cancer, so should one with mental illness. It took a professional to help me get better and I believe that with suicidal thoughts it is so important to seek help.
In March, in the span of two weeks I read about two separate mothers (one local) who tried to take or successfully took their own lives. While they were being called “selfish” in the media, I felt so sad for them because I completely understood how they got there.
I’m so grateful today for friends and family that support me. I’m grateful that the dark thoughts are at bay. I pray that those who are suffering not feel the judgment or shame that comes with depression but rather find help and hope that recovery is possible.
Sending prayers of love and light tonight to those who have lost loved ones to suicide.