(I write, with respect, a response to Matt Walsh's article: "Robin Williams didn't die from a disease, he died from his choice")
"Joy and love. There might not be much else for us on this Earth, but these are the only two things that matter anyway. These are the forces that brought the whole universe into being, and these are the forces that sustain it, and us, and all life." -- Matt Walsh
Ah! The words ye writeth tho' poetic and strong, do not speaketh truth to thy depressed or suicidal.
I am grateful for Mr. Walsh's article. I had no intentions of writing in regards to RW's death and am now compelled and inspired. It is the first post I've ever read by him and feel it is well written and profound. I also respectfully challenge some points, as it is simply missing therapeutic insight. So, as the Healing Vigilante, I am here to provide it.
I greatly value other's perspectives, even those that are far from my own. But let's keep it real: they are perspectives not reality or fact.
The reality/fact is: We do not know why Robin Williams committed suicide. We know nothing, actually. We may try to make sense of it or speculate, but he is the only one who will ever truly know. He is the only one inside of his mind - just as I am in the only one in my mind, and you are the only one in yours.
Everyone's perspective is different, and everyone's perspective is reality. Pause for a moment. Digest that. If I were to expect each client to take on my perspectives off the bat -- versus meet them in theirs -- I would be a lonely therapist, especially when it comes to depression.
The reality/fact is: There is no absolute answer to why a person chooses suicide. Thousands of hours of education could never teach me what it feels like for a person that contemplates death on the daily. It is okay for Mr. Walsh to create and share his perspective/reality of suicide - where he hits the danger zone is by taking his perspective and projecting it in such an absolute way. I get that absolutes are his thing (says so in his bio), but suicide and depression are very gray areas that even therapists and doctors do not have absolute answers about. Well, except it sucks.
Mr. Walsh writes, "...joy is the only thing that defeats depression." And, "We are all meant for joy. We are all meant for love. We are all meant for life. And as long as we can still draw breath, there is joy and love to be found here".
Hm... nicely written. But it is far off from how one overcomes depression. By how he initially simplified overcoming depression, it does not seem he understands the pathology or treatment of it. Yes, if joy could beat the crap out of depression in the emotional boxing ring, life would be amazing. But that is the problem -- a severely depressed person having constant suicidal thoughts barely can grasp the concept of joy, let alone have it be present enough in their inner dialogue to "defeat" depression.
To simply say, "choose joy" is discounting the severity of depression, especially when they are suicidal. If a person has no will to even get out of bed, they cannot just choose to feel better. If I could just tell my depressed clients, "Hey, don't worry, be happy!" Or my client who has an aversion to sex, "Hey, just try a new position!" man, being a therapist would be a lot easier. But this is not how the human mind, heart, and body works - it takes a lot more internal process and shift to get past deep crap. And navigating through the depressed and suicidal mind is very complicated and delicate.
My next point has to do with this picture:
From my perspective (he he he), Mr. Walsh would like to drop kick this image into the deepest depths of the ocean. He looks at terms like, "he is "free," he is "at peace," he is "smiling down upon us," as rhetoric and lies when it comes to suicide. To him, suicide is not freeing.
Many individuals who suffer and fight severe depression would vehemently disagree. Their inner dialogue can clearly deduce that suicide would indeed be freeing - not just for them, but for the people whom they believe they burden with their emotional issues.
Mr. Walsh writes about suicide, "It's a tragic choice, truly, but it is a choice."
There is a huge difference between reality and perspective when it comes to the concept of having choice.
When a person is feeling rational and in a good place they can decipher between perspective and reality. They can feel depressed but able to understand their mind is temporarily in a place of distress, versus permanent - and eventually get past the irrational perspective and feel empowered with choice.
Severely depressed and suicidal people cannot. When a person is feeling distressed, hopeless, or as if they have no will, their perspective shifts. They are very challenged in shutting off their negative dialogue, using therapeutic tools, finding healthy distractions, etc. so their perspective may funnel down to, "Suicide is my only choice" or "I have no choice."
So, yes, the REALITY/FACT is we are always at choice, even when it comes to suicide. However, when a person's perspective is constantly, for long periods of time, that they do NOT have choice this becomes their reality.
You want an absolute truth, Mr. Walsh? People that live with severe depression and chronic suicidal thoughts have a WAY different "reality" than you or me (lucky us). All suicides are not "monstrous" or "selfish", and people choose suicide for different reasons. The more we understand this, the more our hearts and minds will go to compassion versus judgment when things like this happen.
I heart you RW. Forever.
Note: Mr. Walsh has since written a response to his own article.
Next post: Different types of suicide