I wrote my last blog in tribute to Robin Williams and published it, within an hour or so of learning about his death, when it started to trend on Facebook.
6 days 1/2 later and everybody now wants to talk about his Medical and Mental Health issues. And yours. And mine. The media shitstorm that this has created, lasted about 4 days longer then I gave all that is and makes up media and social media credit for. And everyone in the whole entire world’s need to express something. And I can’t honestly tell you that it’s all good. Even if it’s well intentioned. And I’ll explain why.
I don’t like being an “angry” activist. And normally, when I’m upset and angry it’s not a good idea for me to tackle subjects that need the sensitivity that mental health, severe depression, severe chronic medical illness and suicidality requires.
I know that, because Mental Health and Medical activism, is something I do everyday. Not just because it’s the cool thing to do, now. Just like living with mental, medical and cognitive disabilities is something I do everyday. And sometimes it’s a major battle. While I can have a sense of humor on occasion about my own disabilities including mental health, severe chronic depression is one of the things that is most unfunniest matters that exist. Sometimes my medical, mental health and cognitive disabilities feel like a sentence, even though I realize in a lot of ways that it’s nothing short of a miracle I’m still alive and that’s more because of medical and bizarre circumstances. Not because of my mental illness issues. But bear with me for a second, because I’m about to make a point.
This is also not the blog for me to go into what I do when I experience severe depression. This is the blog to explain why mental health issues needed and should’ve garnered attention before Robin Williams’s death. And in my opinion why it probably still wouldn’t have saved his life. Keep in mind, again, I’m not a professional mental health clinician.
We live in a society that is supposed (for good reason) to value human life over everything else. When people die, if it’s people we love, it’s a tragedy. Regardless of how they die. We live in a society that couldn’t be anymore health conscious as it applies to physiological health. We realize now, we have a ways to go when it comes psychological health. And suddenly the whole entire fucking world is now realizing the compassion we’ve been lacking as a society in regards to that due to Robin Williams’s death. That should be a good thing. Here’s a few reasons why it’s NOT.
It’s not fair to put on Robin’s memory or his surviving family and friends, or anyone for the matter that he becomes the poster child for why mental health issues need more attention and we need more resources. Even though his family has said they appreciate the support. But they’ve also asked for privacy, too. What we don’t need is everyone picking and choosing when to talk about this because his life meant more then compared to another. Or to prioritize because Robin Williams was a celebrity that a lot of people could relate to and because he brought us a lot of pleasure. The problem is that when we prioritize value of human life, because he was a celebrity that was globally adored, it will have negative effect on people who are fighting severe depression because it shouldn’t have taken his death, to help eradicate stigma. Or for people fighting for their lives because of mental illness issues right now, will give up thinking that if he couldn’t survive his mental health issues, how the HELL is someone who lacks resources and has no support supposed to??? I’m not saying if there are suicides as a result of this, that it’s his or societies fault. I am saying that it’s justifiably a concern of mine and other MH activists as well as mental health professionals for the reasons I’m saying that his death getting so much media attention is starting to be counterproductive although there are some activists and mental health clinicians who I’m sure will disagree with me.
And in people trying to honor Robin, for those who are in crisis they may not be able to differentiate the attempt to remove stigmatization is starting to resemble glorifying sucidality for those who are vulnerable. Because people are still confused on whether or not this is actually a choice. And in his case though, it’s being considered compassionate to accept that he died this way, but not the same compassion is shown for everyone who battles severe and persistent chronic depression. For those of us who are working on suicide prevention awareness, it’s getting scary just how much attention this is getting and this is a MAJOR reason why it’s not all good.
I am a mental health activist and advocate for a lot of reasons. Which I’ve gone into more detail on other blogs. I, again, definitely advocate for suicide prevention awareness. I also am an activist because to help dispel if not eradicate stigma that comes with all mental health issues. I’m an activist and try to give a voice to those who’ve died due to mental health issues, for those who tried to die because of mental health issues but still are with us but don’t have voice and to be supportive for those who’ve devastatingly lost loved ones in death or who’ve tried dying due to mental illness. Or their quality of lives for those who suffer and their loved ones, is poor to non-existant but people can’t talk about it due to being scared of being stigmatized.
If I actually thought I’d be getting the last word in, I’d call myself out on my being a hypocrite. I don’t think I will be getting the last word in, though. I think out of respect for Robin Williams’s family that the media and social media doesn’t make another 9 trillion comments, stories and memes. That’s the reason why I’m chiming in.
Think about it this way. What if this was your family mourning a loss of a loved one and had to spend the initial days after a tragic death of a loved one, hearing about it EVERYWHERE??? And in this case, sadly his death will be considered newsworthy for the wrong reasons for a longer period of time compared to other celebrity deaths. Again, realize I was a big fan of his, too. I get the sadness, that we are feeling, but it needs to be said how it’s potentially going to fail people. Think about all the people who’ve kept silent for so long because they’ve lost loved ones to severe depression and/or other mental illness issues because it’s been stigmatized for so long.
If you want to honor Robin, the best way you could do that, is by honoring by his survivors wishes, at this point. And to honor people in your life, asking of those who suffer from mental health issues or have lost loved ones due to mental illness issues of what they need in support.
Note: Respectful disagreements of my writings are welcomed in comments. Any comment that can potentially be triggering to another or is disrespectful to another person will not be approved.