Ice Bucket Challenges, Robin Williams and Taking Care of Each Other

I went to sleep thinking about the Ice Bucket Challenge and woke up thinking about Robin Williams, the way we sometimes do a great job of taking care of each other and the way we sometimes fall short.

To be clear, this isn’t a criticism of the Ice Bucket Challenge (which is 3000% amazing and I will be doing it tomorrow) or Social Media (which does do a lot of great things).  It’s simply a realization that sometimes there are harder issues that we sometimes let fall through the cracks because they are a little harder to face.

I thought about Robin Williams and about what his last few months, weeks, days and hours must have been like.  I thought about the tough relationship we have mental health and how it can sometimes be such a complex and challenging subject, that it’s easier to avoid altogether.

It’s a bit easier to hide these days.  It’s easier to project an ideal life between Instagram photos of brunches and sunsets.  It’s become a little too easy to feel like an engaged friend by hitting the “like” button.  It makes it a little easier to avoid life’s tougher moments and difficult conversations.

The stats on mental health, depression, suicide, etc. are alarming even before taking into consideration that these incidents are likely drastically underreported because of the stigma that surrounds them.

The truth is that we all have tough + challenging moments that we are scared to share with others for fear of feeling weak or vulnerable.  I’d even argue that if you haven’t ever felt moments of crippling self-doubt or insecurity, you haven’t been pushing yourself hard enough or getting the most out of life.    There’s a reason why they say choosing to be an entrepreneur is like voluntarily signing up to be manic-depressive.  The fact is that those tougher moments aren’t any more a sign of weakness or inadequacy than a broken leg or sinus infection is.  They’re a sign of strength and what makes us, as a species, perfectly flawed and wonderfully vulnerable.

It’s tough opening up when things aren’t great.  It can be even harder to reach out to a friend and offer help when you think he or she might be struggling.  We can make a video of ourselves drenched and freezing without feeling too exposed, but those tougher moment takes a courage and strength that we may only have on our best days.   But at the end of the day, we owe it to the one we care about and the ones we love to be open and vulnerable with each when it matters most.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Don’t be afraid to offer.  Let’s take great care of each other.