Do you remember where you were when you heard Princess Di died? (We were at a friend’s house, spending the night, I was sitting on the sofa by the window, when Sanj came in from a practice and told us). Or do you remember hearing about Michael Jackson’s death? Or 9-11? We were in Maryland, visiting family when I first saw it mentioned that Robin Williams was dead, that he had killed himself. At first, no one believed it, we thought it was a hoax. As the truth was spread like a wild fire, I think there was so much shock to know that he killed himself. How could a funny man as himself be sad? Depression? It seemed unreal. Those ugly words, mental illness, seemed not as offensive when linked to someone like Robin Williams. I read this and loved it, “Finally there is a face for mental illness.”
I can only imagine the darkness he must have been in and the fact that there was no way out. You know, since this story came out, there have been so many pleads that if you are feeling depressed and see no way out… call for help. The depression hotline is given. It is good to know that there is help out there for those able to reach for it. The reality is that many can’t do that. Many can’t reach … that is effort that they cannot summon the strength to do. There are so many that can put on happy faces but yet that dark place remains, can be pushed aside temporarily to function but its a place that is alway there. One can’t escape it.
Most people don’t want to deal with the reality that someone they love is mentally ill. Those words seem to be so scary and negative. Maybe it goes back to the days of visions of a mental hospital… with the iron bars on the windows. For whatever reason, that thought of having someone mentally ill seems to be scary. Over the past years, I have been open with my struggles of depression. To be honest, I actually didn’t think it was depression. I mean, I can be so happy when with my friends. I love having people over, playing and being in fellowship. Therefore, what I have or feel can’t be depression. You know, depression isn’t a choice. It is so frustrating to feel in a dark place with no idea of what takes you there or how to leave that space permanently. After my last babies, I started to feel sad a lot of the time. And often for no reason. I remember going into a corner and crying my heart out. Then, wiping my face and going back to life as I knew it. This was the blues. Postpartum blues. It eventually went away. With the last babe, it was bad. I couldn’t shake the darkness. It followed me. It became my shadow.
I believe that dealing with my father’s imbedding death, years ago, pulled me over the edge and everything felt enormous. I’m grateful for a friend that saw something that I didn’t even know was there. She called my doctor. She saved me in many ways.
I have called my happy pills, my crazy pill. It’s not that I am being condescending but rather, when I am off them, I really feel crazy. I know that there are meds to help. I know that it’s ok to be in a dark place once in a while. It’s called life. Yet, darkness that continues is exhausting. Darkness that continues is lonely. Darkness that continues is scary. There is help. Most people may need a buddy, loved one to help them with that. They may need reassurance that suffering from mental illness is ok. It’s like having a peanut allergy. You didn’t not ask for it. It can sometimes kill you. IF you seek help, there are ways to help you. You can live a normal life, with help.
When I say I’m crazy- I know it cause distrubation. (I realize that’s not a real word… but I like it). I usually hear that I have so much going on in my life, most people would be crazy. Maybe that’s true. Yet maybe it’s not. I do know that it seems to make others uncomfortable. I’m sorry. That isn’t my intent. I’m ok with my craziness. I am learning to deal with it. Do I wish I didn’t have that dark space that can suffocate me? Of course. Yet… it’s my reality. I am just grateful to have a doctor that hears me.
You know, from someone that a suffers from mental illness- (that doesn’t sound cool, does it…) there are things you can do to help. If you have someone talking… really listen. You can save someone by sometimes just listening. Don’t be scared to suggest help. If it’s done out of love, then that is love.
Don’t be afraid to seek help. It doesn’t make you less than who you are. It make actually enhance you and who you are to be. There is so much help out there. I’m not saying that meds is the be all end all. There are many ways to seek light in your life. Be open to all of them.
Don’t be afraid to talk. You know, so often we are so busy trying to live that perfect life that we want others to perceive that we don’t realize that with help, dreams can come true. Life doesn’t have to be so hard, if it’s hard. You’d be surprised to see that once you open up (to someone you trust), you aren’t the only one feeling as you do.
I think of Robin Williams and the darkness he felt in the moment he let it all go. It haunts me. It makes me so sad that loneliness he had in that moment. God gives us so much. He felt that darkness… it’s what I imagine maybe a little of what He felt on the cross, when He said, “Father why have You forsaken me…”
I am sad that the world lost a wonderful funny man. Robin Williams’ RV is one of the favorites of our home. I am glad for the attention that has come from this. I am glad and sad that depression, mental illness, has a face.