I've been talking a lot about depression this week. We all have and for good reason. People may think that it's funny for us, as a nation and as humans, to mourn for someone we may have never met. To mourn for a man who was in movies and on TV, who made us laugh and cry, and quote lines from his movies. But we are justified in our grief for many reasons. One, because it was so sudden and tragic, knocking us off balance in the middle of an otherwise normal day. Two, because of the way that he went, taking his own life. And three, because we then have to ask the question as to why.
I've grown tired of the Facebook posts about depression and suicide. The bad ones that say perhaps if Robin Williams was a more faithful man, if perhaps he took a moment to look at what he had, how much he had to live for. The posts that try to place the blame. Those posts and articles drive me crazy because I don't believe for one minute that depression is something that humans can control. When I think about depression I imagine that it's a vine, that grows and wraps itself around the heart and the mind. It binds the arms and the legs and even gags our mouths. And before we know it, the darkness sets in.
We can talk about all of the things that Robin Williams had in his life, a wife, children, an amazing career spanning decades. He had fans and admirers all over the world, he was famous, he was, he was, he was...
I could go on forever about all of the things that he was, but I have a feeling that despite all of the things that he had, he never felt like he deserved them.
The thing about the darkness, it makes you feel like you will never be enough. No matter what you have, no matter who you are, you will never feel like you deserve it, you will never feel like you've earned it. The bottom line is that the darkness makes you believe that you are never going to be enough for all the things that you have.
In any event, these are just my opinions. My thoughts on depression and how it changes you, are based on personal experience. How it makes you believe things you never would have before the darkness. I have no idea what Robin Williams was wrestling with, I won't even try. I didn't know him personally, I wasn't his friend, I was just a fan. But I will say that my heart broke when I heard the news, because on the day he took his own life, he felt like that was the answer. That by leaving this world, it would solve everything.
My heart breaks for all those out in the world that think suicide is the answer. To be there, in that pocket of the darkness is a lonely place. Can you imagine being there? Thinking that the only answer to the pain and despair is taking your own life? It should break your heart, it should stir compassion and empathy. Unfortunately, conversations of suicide and depression are rarely met with either of these.
I know a little about depression. The darkness, the weight, the feeling of drowning out of the water. I've battled pockets of dark my whole life. I'm not afraid to admit it today, but at one time I was. Those times I felt stuck, struggling to stay above water, afraid to admit those feelings of inadequacy. Afraid to admit that I was depressed. Afraid that that word would swallow me whole. I'll admit that I never got to the point where I wanted to take my own life, but at times, I've wanted to run away. As a teen, I wanted to run away from the bullying, the words that people were saying about me. Then as a mother, I wanted to run, far away. Thinking that my family deserved better, that I would never be enough for them. I was lucky, I was able to get help, to talk about my fears and my thoughts. I was able to find my way back.
Depression has been my mind this week. It's been on many minds this week. But let's not forget about next week and the week after that. Robin Williams was famous, and we will talk about him and his passing for years. But will we continue to talk about depression and suicide for years? Will we talk about it so much that it will take the stigma away? How can we continue to have the conversation about depression and mental illness so that it's no longer taboo? So it's not longer something we fear and something we accept.
So as this week ends, and another begins, please continue to talk. Continue to talk about Robin Williams, or your neighbor, or your sister. Talk about that friend in high school or college. Talk about that mama friend of yours. Talk about those people who have struggled with depression. Tell those stories, embrace those stories. You may even be able to tell your own story. You never know who may be listening. You never know who you might inspire. You never know you might need some help, some understanding, some empathy.
You never know who may need a little light in the dark.
If you need help with depression or suicidal thoughts
visit the National Suicide Prevention Life Line.