It's funny though...they weren't talking about my dad. They were talking about Robin Williams.
My father was talented just like Robin. He was a people pleaser, he was a funny guy, he had more personality in his big toe than most people have in their entire bodies. He was outgoing and spontaneous. To the outside world he looked like an ideal father and friend...worked hard and played harder...loved his family more than the world.
But there was a much deeper disaster brewing under the surface. There was a very mentally ill man who harnessed his inner demons by using substances...anything to calm the voices and manic episodes.
And you know what...for that I can't blame him.
I blame him for not getting help...I blame him for not caring enough about his children to stop using...but do I really have the right to?
It occurred to me today after my blog yesterday (which went viral...thank you ALL)...that I preach understanding for those with mental illness. I encourage support and love and outreach to those that need help. I discourage shame, blame, and any other negative projections. I tell people to stop judging those things that they know nothing about.
But what am I doing? I don't have a drug addiction...and I don't have the severe mental illnesses that he did. Who am I to judge how he chose to fight them? I have no frame of reference, I have no right.
Maybe it's time for me to reevaluate a little bit. The abuse, of course I have a right to be mad about (as long as it isn't consuming me). The hell I went through, I could be mad...but I'd rather use it to better someone else's life...and hopefully reach out to those in need. Maybe I need to think a little harder about how I see my father, and how I judge his actions.
The reality is...Robin Williams killed himself outright. It was an intentional suicide.
But did my father?
For those that don't know...my father died in prison. After multiple suicide attempts, and always crying wolf to the guards...they started to ignore him in solitary. While he was there, his appendix burst, and his complaints were disregarded as just another attention attempt. He died of sepsis in the hospital a few days later.
But was it suicide? Most would say no...he died of a natural cause, and neglect from the prison staff. I'm not so sure I agree with that.
The definition of suicide is the action of killing oneself intentionally. Some use a gun, some use pills, some use another way. I would argue that my father's lifestyle was suicide. He intentionally wore his body out over the years, and behaved in ways that would lead to his demise.
He knew that, and he still did it...which could be argued as an intentional act. It may not have been instant as other suicides we usually see. But he still did things intentionally that lead to his death.
Robin Williams was 63...my father was only 56.
Between them...at least 7 children lost a father.
But this society refuses to talk about mental illness because it's something we should all just sweep under the rug right?
I mean hell...it's not cancer. It's not deadly or anything...