Saturday, September 20, 2014

Robin Williams and Depression

My husband was away. The battle with my depression was becoming more challenging. My emotions were on the bad ride I always talk about. And then. Robin Williams died. He was a person fighting mental illness, and he must have felt like he was losing because he committed suicide. I would have written about this sooner, but he left when I felt like I was losing the fight too...and it hit me incredibly hard. Everyone grieved and still grieve. But, I imagine that those of us living with mental illness felt a different kind of despair. Many, if not most of us, have been to that edge...I don't think that I can write what it's like. I think it's different for each individual. Here's my experience.

I came home from a trip to see friends from college. A few of my family members were mad at me for staying gone longer than I had planned. They had gotten involved with my personal business that I had already handled and taken care of. But, they still had an opinion. It was a lot of negativity pushed on me at once, and I thought, "What was the point coming back here?" "You know what? What's the point in being here at all?" I felt like a failure...failure is my trigger. I know I blow it up and make it bigger than it is, but even knowing it, I can't help it. One failure snowballs with others and rolls all around my brain picking up past failures and self doubt. I had been down like this before, but this was the first time I made it to that edge. Pain and sickness overwhelmed my mind and body and I was tired of feeling the heaviness of it more often than not. I poured my anti-depressants on my bathroom counter and I knelt in front of it. Tears ran freely down my face and my only thought was, "Will I die or will I just get sick?" I was terrified and heartbroken...I knew it would be my biggest failure either gone or everyone knows I tried to leave. Then there was a silence inside me, and whatever I was going to do was going to come from that quiet place. But, my grandma walked in. I'm not sure if she understood what all she saw in front of her, but I do know she saw my tears. I got up and she hugged me tightly. I can't remember what she said. It was either compassion or tough love. That was the end of that. The pills were scooped up and returned to the bottle, and I went to sleep that night and woke up the next morning. I've had several moments since then where I've wondered how it would feel to just be free from depression, but I've never been back to the edge. It's been about 10 years now.

It breaks my heart when I hear about people who went over that cliff. How does it feel to have nothing inside you fighting to pull you back? My anchor will always be unmeasurable love for too many people to count and for this beautiful world in general. I will always choose love, and I know that love will never let me down. Robin Williams was successful, cherished and admired by millions, and loved. Did he have an anchor? And if so, how did he lose it? I compare depression to darkness and suffocation...he must have been engulfed and drowning in it. That dark unrelenting presence must have gotten stronger and pushed and held him down. It's a terrifying thought! It's a crushing and yet hollow feeling knowing that what he did was maybe for just a handful of peace.

And how many people knew about his depression? I didn't know. The media made it sound like it was a big shock to everyone. I'm sure his family and close friends were aware. But, I wonder how involved they were in that part of his life...did he even let them in? He would have had every single kind of help available for treatment. Did he use them? Did he not feel like he could talk about it? Was it because of the stigma attached? Did he think no one would take him seriously since he was known has a happy and funny guy?

I know it's a lot of questions, but here's the big one. How do we keep the conversation about mental illness going and prominent? It's usually just a flash in the media that glows only temporarily before burning out until there's another flash. I try so hard to reach out and be a voice on this blog. No idea if I'm helping anyone, but I'm never going to stop talking about it, and it helps me to talk about it. If I were a celebrity, would more people pay attention? Depression and other forms of mental illness get attention from the media when something bad happens. A celebrity commits suicide, a prominent public figure has a mental break, and then there are the ones who go on killing sprees. Negativity negativity negativity! If my mama wasn't there in the beginning to help me through this and understand it because of her own experiences, I might have felt scared my whole life to talk about it. People might just think I'm crazy or I'm a bad person or I'm going to do awful things...I best just keep it to myself and suffer alone in silence. If that had been the case, I know I wouldn't be here today. So how do we keep the topic alive? How do we make this a global discussion? I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing here, and that's all I can do.

Not everyone is going to feel comfortable talking about it. Luckily for me, I don't feel like I have to hide it. I don't feel ashamed. It's a part of my life, but I'm living. I'm fighting. I'm loving! Screw stigmas and judgement and ignorance...mental illness exists. I'm not going to be quiet about it.

Robin Williams, I'm so sorry for the shadows that overwhelmed you. You will be greatly missed but remembered for all of time as the man who could make us laugh like no one else could! I sincerely pray that you have found peace and relief!

Thanks for listening, dear ones. And as always, hugs and love, my lovelies!

One Tough Cookie,
The Ro Fo Sho

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