Today is the second day that my Facebook page has been flooded with images and remembrances of the late, great Robin Williams. Tears have poured from my eyes at times when I think of what we have lost. But I can’t help but wonder how dark things really were in his world. He seemed to have it all together; laughing and joking. Which, those of us who have suffered from depression can understand that sometimes you just have to put on your “happy face.” And Robin did that brilliantly. The part I’m having a really hard time with are the many stories about how interactive he was with people behind the scenes. Often, people suffering with depression withdraw from others. They do what needs to be done, and then retract into their “shell” so to speak. The stories I’m reading online do not coincide with this. The Today show posted how he talked to all of the cast and crew; he wanted to hear their stories. After the cameras stopped rolling, he would go out on the Plaza and shake hands with fans that had gathered in hopes of just getting a glimpse of the legendary performer. Then I am reminded of my own depression and how we have our good days and bad days. That is when I can say “I get it.” I also realize how incredibly draining it must have been for him at the end of the day, yet he never seemed to let audiences down.
If you have never suffered from depression, it is very hard to understand. (I’m sure I just thought “oh wait! I shouldn’t use the word ‘very!’ ” Thank you “Dead Poet’s Society.”) It is also hard to explain depression to anyone who hasn’t been there. I was very lucky because my “dark times” are very few and far between. Lately I have been pulling away from people, but in a much better, healthier place. I have actually been getting to a place where I can be alone and be quiet. That is the key; the quiet. Having depression or anxiety, honestly for me it was often more anxiety then depression, can be very LOUD in your head! As a kid/teen, I figured out a way to turn my TV on at night to cancel out the activity going on in my head. It is very real. No, it isn’t “voices,” but possibly just as distracting! For those wondering: Turn your TV on to something you have seen more times than you can remember, then turn it down to where you can hear it, but you can’t understand what they are saying. It confuses the brain, and therefore kind of cancels out the internal noise. The radio doesn’t work for this. Melodies make you know what song is playing, then you will sing along, and that just doesn’t work.
The worst part about reading all of this on Robin is wondering where all of these messages about how to be helpful to friends with depression were when I needed it! So all of this is hitting a little too close to home. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I could never take my own life! But I do understand how it can happen. I’ve been close enough to understand. I just couldn’t do it. I mean, I know how I would do it…but that is normal to think about that, right? Right? 😉 Reading all of these great things that are out there for people NOW, TODAY, following Robin’s death are now in the forefront. Seriously, where was this a few years ago? I was going through such a rough and dark time, and literally my closest friends avoided me. Why? Because they didn’t know what to say. Well, there’s a good reason! Especially since I was never asking for anyone to say or do anything! People just feel this need to fix things. Speaking even for people without depression, we don’t need you to fix things, we just need you to BE PRESENT! That is all we ever really want from anyone, isn’t it? Put the damn phone/tablet/laptop down and BE PRESENT!
So here I was, feeling beaten and alone. I was told to see a therapist and was avoided. Luckily, I’m too damn stubborn to let it get me down completely, so I fought. Even discarded a few friends along the way. (I even told some EXACLTY what I needed, but no, I didn’t get that either! But then I’d feel guilty because I wasn’t their responsibility, and they had their own lives to lead. Oh sorry. Rambling… I guess reading all of these things makes me think back to those people and go “SEE! I didn’t make this shit up!” Okay…)
I am in a much better place now. Maybe older and wiser, and less things get to me. I have also learned that my depression/anxiety was a side effect of A.D.D. (That was a tricky one to figure out when you are over 20! Doctors don’t typically go to that. “Oh, you are a woman, over the age of 20? It must be anxiety or depression! Here, let’s try this drug. Oh that one didn’t work? Let’s try this one. Oh, you are having these side effects? We should up the dosage!” Seriously, multiple doctors took this approach! I – ME – I finally figured out what I had and my doctor said “Okay, well, we haven’t gone that route yet. Let’s give it a try.” Seriously…I’m not making this up!)
To have true clinical depression is such a scary thought. I have tasted that Kool-Aid, but never had to drink it. I can’t imagine having feelings or thoughts that what I am experiencing right now may never go away. That hopelessness that people speak of; that is frightening.
All I can say is I HOPE people learn from this. Maybe even if they can’t understand depression, MDD, bipolar disorder, BPD, et cetera, maybe at the VERY least, just maybe, they can appreciate it and not run from it. It isn’t contagious!
Pic from fanpop.com