When I saw that Robin Williams had died of a suspected suicide, I was flooded with feelings of sadness. Sadness for him, for his family, for all the great performances we got, but also all the great performances we’ll miss. But also because I know how bad depression can be, and how it can affect a person you’d never expect, and how it can defeat them.
My first book, Meant to Be, is dedicated to my Aunt Inger. She was basically my second mother, and growing up I thought she was the coolest person in the world. A corporate lawyer in New Orleans who was also an avid horsewoman, I used to spend several weeks of the summer with her. She’d sign me up for horse camp and riding lessons and horse shows. She bought me Esprit clothes, which trust me, in the late 80s/early 90s was basically the height of fashion for a tween. She gave me my very first Sweet Valley High Book one summer when I was staying with her and came down with chicken pox. She took me to Mardi Gras and introduced me to snoballs and was just generally an amazing woman.
And when I was 13, she laid down in her garage with her car running and never got up again.
It made absolutely no sense to me then, and it makes absolutely no sense to me now. But that’s the thing about suicide. It makes absolute sense to the person experiencing those thoughts and none at all to the people left behind. For those of us left behind, we just wonder if we could have loved you harder or better. But depression doesn’t work like that.
Just like you can’t love away cancer, depression is a disease that requires treatment, and all we can do as the people left behind is to urge anyone having those feelings to please please please seek help. Tell someone. Tell anyone. Ask for help. Because I would do anything, pay any price, go through any trial, to have her back, and I promise you that someone feels that way about you, too, even if you can’t imagine it right now.
The number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. There’s no shame in depression. There’s no shame in suicidal thoughts. There’s no shame in a suicidal attempt. Please get help.