The Heaviness of Grey
He carried a bullet in his pocket. He carried it to remind himself that each day was a choice to live, even if it meant living on the dark side, where everything presented in heavy shades of grey. He carried it because he never wanted to feel trapped by the lack of options; being depressed and left with few choices led to desperation and there was little else the camel’s back could bear. He carried it until the day the symbol, in and of itself, lost power. He carried that bullet every day, until the day he used it.
After his physical recovery and obligatory time in mental health hospitals, he found that everywhere he went, he was accompanied by the proverbial elephant in the room. He told me that in the following years, people tended to react in one of two ways, politely ignoring his pachyderm companion or, veering clear of the two of them altogether, as if an invisible elephant might stomp them to death. He said that even the mental health professionals he dealt with would redirect conversations away from the subject of suicide. Everyone seemed to ignore what had taken place, and it heightened what was already a surreal situation; it left him feeling even more isolated than before the suicide attempt.
“I used to think the worst thing in life is to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.” – Robin Williams
The death of Robin Williams is bringing about discussion on the subjects of suicide and mental health and I think they are conversations that are LONG overdue and desperately needed. However, I’m afraid this environment of concern will be short-lived because too many people really don’t want to engage in meaningful dialogue about these issues. Death (let alone suicide) and mental health issues are too frightening and simply something we would rather not even think about let alone discuss at the family dinner table. Prolonged and in-depth dialogue would mean we would also have to look at the causal factors and those are WAY too messy, uncomfortable, and expensive in terms of time, effort and money. Like many of the red-flag issues that confront us today, we wish they would simply go away or magically become more palatable so they don’t require sacrifice or discomfort on our part. I think it is far more likely that we’ll give our sympathetic and momentary nod of concern and then do what we’re so good at, move on to more pleasant diversions.
This post is open to civil and meaningful dialogue.