I am not a celebrity fan type of person. There are very few celebrities that would leave me awestruck. Ok maybe George Clooney would but hey I’m a middle aged woman in the midst of mundane madness.
But today I heard the news that Charlotte Dawson had killed herself. I was shocked and then I cried. Why? Because I too have depression that has seen me in similar circumstances that Charlotte has been in before. Being in the public spotlight Charlotte has copped a tirade of abuse and disgusting behaviour both via social and print media. I’m thankful though she appears to have wonderful friends who have stood by her and been there for her at her worst.
I admire Charlotte for talking about depression and in particular the bullying that often leads to people being depressed. Even though I’ve had depression for years I’ve never really talked about it with anyone. Except if you count the obligatory therapist when I was at my worst. There are people in my life who know I have depression but it’s always a bit of hushed moment if the subject arises and we don’t really talk about it.
I’ve been where Charlotte has been before. It was long long time ago but the memory is both somewhat foggy and vivid at the same time. But I survived, somewhat to my horror at the time. But there is always hope. The hope that things will get better and that someone cares enough to help you through it. Coming out of a serious depression is slow, notoriously slow. Slow to the point where you really believe it may never get better. But time does help heal. And ironically the more episodes you have, as hideous and revolting as they are, you at least have some insight into how depression works and that time will help you get though it……again and again and again. We all hope we’ll get through it again, but for Charlotte she didn’t get through another episode again…….she suffered immeasurably to the point where perhaps she just could not face getting through it one more time. Consequently a beautiful human being has died.
I have a controversial view of death. In no way do I think that suicide is the answer. I believe that for 99.9% with depression there is some treatment somewhere that will help them. It might not mean their life is all rainbows and fairytales but it might mean their life is manageable and they’ll find joy in life.
But I firmly believe that there is the very very rare case where nothing, absolutely nothing will help a persons depression. It’s in this exceptionally rare case where I genuinely don’t have a problem with someone choosing to end their life. As tragic as it is for the family and friends left behind and I cannot fathom how they would ever cope with knowing their loved one believed that death was the only and ultimate answer, I still believe that sometimes it may be the only answer for ending their pain.
I’m not talking about people choosing to kill themselves because they’ve had treatment resistant depression for a month, 6 months or even 6 years. I’m talking about people who find absolutely nothing in life that brings pleasure. People who find that life is a hideously torturous existence with every waking moment being one more moment of suffering.
I didn’t know Charlotte Dawson at all. I do know she presented to me as an articulate, intelligent and beautiful woman who gave indication that there was trauma and suffering in her life that she had to deal with on a regular basis, perhaps even relentlessly so.
I have no idea if Charlotte felt death was finally the one and only option to end her past and future suffering or if she was having such a serious episode of depression that she felt it was the only option at that particular point in time. Either way, it torments me that someone had to feel that way.
I can only say to her family and friends that she made a difference. She made a difference to me. At times when I was in the grips of a particularly bad depressive episode or even when I was well enough that life was rosy, I had at times thought of trying to somehow contact her or write her a letter just to let her know she had made a difference. I’d heard Charlottes opinions and thoughts via various media platforms and every time it reminded me that I wasn’t alone. There was someone else with a beautiful beaming smile that on many days was a facade to get through the day.
Charlottes story will fill newspaper columns for the next week or two and then it will slowly fade. Please don’t let it fade. We need to keep the conversation flowing to get this issue into the mainstream. The more it’s there and talked about the less people will feel alone. Feeling alone and death being your only option is just a sad sad situation. Nobody want this.