award-winning educator, mental health advocate, social entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, author/writer, program executive, and radio host
© 2015: Beyond SPRH, LLC / Email: info (at) slyoung.com / All rights reserved
After learning about Robin Williams’ death (8/11/14), I paused, reflected, and privately understood the types of demons that might have affected him. This would have been the end of my thoughts about it after a few days; however, there was an insensitive Facebook post that same day which made a judgmental comment about the reasons that anyone would commit suicide. This comment bothered and drove me to do something I wasn’t ready, but was compelled to do.
On 8/12/14, I wrote a Facebook post that began an unexpected writing journey about depression over the past year. In this post, I boldly shared my battle with depression and journey to recover after a near-suicide in March 2014. Releasing this post was one of the most heart-wrenching decisions I’ve made in my life. Nonetheless, it was the moment that I started to live (again). Almost immediately, I felt better because I released feelings that I had anguished, worried, and was embarrassed about that were barriers to my recovery.
On 8/18/14, I appeared on the “Maggie Linton Show” to share my story with a national audience. At first, discussing my journey was easier than I expected, but about halfway through this interview I choked-up and struggled to continue. Fortunately, I was able to finish sharing my story. After my interview, I said, “I wish I hadn’t gotten emotional,” and Mrs. Linton replied, “That’s what made it real.”
It’s interesting that I had such reservations about discussing my story, because within a couple months of my near-suicide I documented my raw feelings and emotions in my memoir. My goal in writing this book was to help others affected by depression --- directly or indirectly. Although, the feedback received, questions asked, and personal battles shared made me realize that there were many individuals who didn’t understand depression beyond knowing that it made someone feel bad or sad.
I never imagined that my articles would affect so many. I received private message from family/friends, classmates from high school, and strangers who shared their journeys with me. Each of these by itself was very powerful, but the messages that touched me the most were from family members and friends who contacted this stranger to tell me about the story of their loved one lost to this disease. These individuals told me that my articles helped them to understand the way their loved one might have felt in their final moments, something that person did before their death, or the most meaningful comments to me were that my articles helped to answer a question that was previously unresolved.
As for me, I’d love to write that this is a fairytale ending to my year-long writing project, but it isn’t. I still battle depression due to some life circumstances and have some moments that feel like bottomless lows. Notwithstanding these feelings, I have learned ways to better manage periods of depression, understand ways to release my pain(s), and most importantly I use my support system, which was always available but I limited my options for recovery due to false assumptions that I would be negatively judged versus being helped.
If you want to learn about depression, read about my experiences with it, and identify ways to help someone – including yourself – who might be affected, please reference my articles and books that were released over the last year.
* Choosing To Take A Stand: Changed me, my life, and my destiny
* Depression: An Unnecessary Stigma
* Depression: It Happens!
* Helping Someone Who Might Be Depressed
* Functioning While Depressed
* The Day I Almost Committed Suicide
* Depression Can Be a Limiter: Willpower a Liberator
* Depression as a Mnemonic
* Letter to Myself the Day Before My Near-Suicide: Written a Year Later
* Depression: My Journey Through the Fog
* I Was Almost Another Suicide Statistic
* Depression Can Lead to Individuals Questioning Their Value(s)
* Turning Darkness Into Light: Inspiring Lessons After a Near-Suicide
This piece marks my (planned) final article about depression and my battle with it. I truly hope that my materials will be shared to let others know that they’re not alone.
As I wrote in my first HuffPost blog entry “Depression: An Unnecessary Stigma” (disclosure about my depression as a result of Robin Williams’ death-by-suicide):
“Remember from the day we’re born until the day we’re buried, we don’t do anything alone. Therefore, don’t be afraid to disclose your struggles and ask for help. Being vulnerable to share your challenges isn’t a weakness, but instead a strength. The challenge many times is convincing yourself otherwise.”
Individuals must take care of their mental health along with their physical well-being. Please don’t learn the hard way like I did; take action(s) now to save your life because I’m sure someone is more than willing to say #Iwillstopandlisten.
Best wishes on your journey and always remember to… Be your best!
Anyone who needs assistance should contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or
A collection of Mr. Young's articles and interviews about depression are available at: www.slyoung.com/depression.html
Additional information about Mr. Young’s journey to overcome his depression and near-suicide can be obtained in his book “Choosing to Take a Stand: Changed me, my life, and my destiny.”