I was deeply saddened to hear of Robin Williams death. It is reported that he was deeply depressed and may have taken his own life. It’s hard for people to wrap their minds around the fact that a person who was so hilarious and brought so much laughter to others could not bear to live…I’ve known people like this, I’ve been this person. He was adored by millions and will be missed by just as many. I pray for the comfort of his friends and family.
People often think that suicidal people are going to look like some raving maniac, and sometimes they do but not usually.
There is the same misconception about drowning people-that they will be thrashing and screaming and crying for help-there will be no thrashing, no screaming just a paralyzingly fear that you’re not going to survive as you go under repeatedly, which is often mistaken as someone just playing- when you do break the surface there is no cry for help there is only the inhaling of the desperately needed breath.
The same is true with depression and other mental illnesses, it is a quiet slipping under the water, the paralyzingly fear that you won’t survive, and the inability to cry for help or to save yourself.
Drowning people do not save themselves. It is an ignorant and inexperienced viewpoint to believe that depression or any mental illness is a feeling, a strictly spiritual problem, or someone who feels sorry for themselves rather than a debilitating mental illness that will fight you for your very life.
100% of people will fall into one or more of these categories in their lifetime
1) They will experience a mental health problem.
2) They will be in a relationship with someone who is experiencing a mental health problem.
I’m an overachiever so I did both.
Most people easily accept that the heart, the kidneys, the appendix, the lungs regularly malfunction but act like it is some alien and unlikely event for the brain and chemical control centers of the body to malfunction-that is an ignorant and potentially devastating position to take.
We have a responsibility as human beings to guard life, to be life guards. Drowning people do not save themselves…tragically some will be too far from shore to be saved, or will have gone under without anyone noticing, with seemingly no warning.
Please don’t stand on the shore and scream swim as they go under-for goodness sake if they could don’t you know they would drowning people don’t save themselves because they can’t save themselves..
They don’t want to drown they just don’t know how to swim or have become too exhausted to keep their ahead above water, it’s not that they want to stop treading water it’s that they are physically and mentally incapable of continuing to do so.
As a child I was present at a drowning at a party hosted by my family where the hired lifeguards never showed up. As a teen I became a certified lifeguard.
As an adult I suffered a nightmarish 19 months when postpartum depression turned to clinical depression and bordered on psychosis.
Life has taught me drowning people do not save themselves.
When I meet someone adult or child who says they can’t swim I immediately say we have to remedy that right away- it’s too dangerous to not know how to swim, you can’t save yourself, a loved one, or a stranger.
It’s the same with mental illness, we must educate ourselves to be able to recognize when someone’s drowning, go in after them, bring them to shore, and get them the help they need that’s beyond what we can offer.
Tragically there will still be those who don’t make it. Like a body losing it’s battle to a cancer thats faster than the cure. Like Robin Williams whom the world perceived had everything he needed to keep swimming but could not.
But still we fight and still we must jump in to save others because… drowning people do not save themselves.
Thanks be to God himself who swam in to get me as I went under , thanks to my husband who nursed me in my brokenness, and thanks to the drowning experience itself for curing me of my ignorance and helping me to recognize drowning people don’t save themselves, we must go in after them-this is the good that comes out of the bad.
***No one in my family recognized I was drowning, they thought it would look different, they thought I would have the air to scream for help. If you have guilt because you failed to recognize that someone was drowning, I beg you to forgive yourself…I know they would forgive you, they know that you didn’t recognize they were drowning. They know you would have swam out to them, they forgive you, please forgive yourself.
Thanks for Dreaming and Scheming with me my fellow lifeguards,