Gift of Presence
You are a gift on this journey called life.
Two years ago, Robin Williams death had our nation gripped in a conversation about suicide, and with the heart wrenching images of Charlottesville facing our nation today I was struck that it was my past Facebook post on his suicide that was shared by my friends.
The bad news, graphic images, and political divide that we are faced with every time we turn on the news, the radio, and scroll the internet can be a trigger for those struggling with PTS, depression, anxiety, or just life. Suicide in our nation has reached alarming levels, especially among veterans, but it has been part of my life for a long time.
Twenty-six ago I said the following words in a speech after losing three friends in as many months to suicide, “I am so thirsty. There is no water that will quench my thirst.” Leaving the audience in silence.
“How do I survive your suicide? What could have been done so you didn’t die?”
Today and tomorrow this is what the parent, the spouse, the child, the close friends, the care workers, and casual observers will ask themselves when someone they know and love commit suicide. This is what our nation was asking about the suicide of Robin Williams.
Just after Robin Williams died a dear friend of mine wrote these words, “…my low point was probably 2009, when the depression manifested itself as a constant and debilitating physical ache, but most (depression) pain can never be eradicated, only managed.”
The physical pain of depression can be so great that an individual may convince them self that death is the only solution…not realizing another sunrise, another sunset and a day where the pain was not as great was waiting for them to enjoy. In a single moment, too many people decided to end their own life.
Many after Williams funny and life lifting quips were gone offered their answers. News anchors framed it with reason, where reason is defied. And what seemed to be lost in the sea of suggestions is this underlying ugly truth -- depression, anxiety, and life challenges can be felt as a debilitating and seemingly unending physical pain.
I have felt this pain. A couple years ago, a few of my friends helped me as I faced a mother’s worst fear and watched my son fight for his life in ICU. This tragedy happened while I was fighting the effects of PTS without medical assistance. I felt like I was drowning under the emotional trauma. My friends blessed me with a deep understanding and gave me the gift of presence. This helped me gain footing and survive the pain that was more than heartache…it was pain that seeped through my every pore.
This is not to say; Robin Williams’ family could have done anything different or that there might have been a different outcome. If you have a friend or a loved one who may be feeling this kind of suffering offer them your presence, support, and help them find avenues of counseling and medical care.
It is time for to treat the mental conditions which may lead to suicide for what it is, and stop treating it as something the individual can just put aside or easily recover. It is a disease with real pain that needs to be treated, just as cancer or other diseases need to be treated.
If you, or a loved one, suffer from thoughts of suicide or other debilitating challenges that affect your emotions ,and ability to move forward, I offer to you my presence without judgment, and the hope and avenues where healing can begin.
You are gift in this journey of life, please stay with us and share those gifts.