The world is a sadder place today with the loss of actor/comedian Robin Williams. So many of my memories involve movies or tv shows that he starred in....I had a Mork doll when I was a kid, Mrs Doubtfire was the activity for my first real date in high school, and the Genie is quite possibly the best animated character ever.
Outside, Robin Williams spent his life making others laugh. But inside, he struggled with a depression that made it hard for him to laugh, to look beyond the depression to see happiness, and in the end, in his mind it made it impossible for him to survive.
Depression is not something we should be looking past. It is not something we should shrug off. It is not a small issue that will go away if ignored. It doesnt go away. Ever.
Imagine your life during a time when everyone on the outside sees things going so well - you have a good job, your kids are happy and healthy, you and your husband really don't have any huge issues to deal with, and really, things are great. However, inside no matter what you do, you are sad and unconnected. Imagine knowing that its Saturday morning and the only thing on your calendar is playtime with the kids -- sounds great right? Now imagine having to give yourself a pep talk to simply get out of bed.
Major depression does that to you. It just lingers there. You spent time at events reminding yourself that this is an enjoyable experience and that smiles and laughter are in order.
Many people -I would be willing to bet MOST people - have experienced a bout of depression - and probably during a tough time in their life....maybe after the death of a loved one or a loss of a significant relationship and even after having a baby. Getting through those life changes are so so challenging I know.
I have battled depression for a long time - I have learned to live with it. Sometimes it creeps up and forces itself to be the primary emotion. Most often, its just something I have learned to exist with - I fight through it and find so much joy in my life and during the hard times, I fight through to find strength to carry myself and my family to the good times again. It is part of who I am and will always be part of who I am. Its so scary to post it here so publicly but part of me feels so free in doing so - I bet there is someone reading this who is nodding their head, understanding every word. And maybe someone out there will understand me or another friend of theirs just a bit better. Sometimes that understanding by people in our lives makes things a bit better.
Reach out, they say. Tell someone you are feeling down, they tell you. Ask for help - another common request. It. Is. So. Hard. Asking for help required knowing what you need help with --- often its hard or impossible to verbalize that or maybe you dont even know what would help. If someone has not experienced chronic depression, its hard to reach out when they dont know how it feels or understand it. And after awhile, people tire of hearing about your depression or just dont want to be involved in it anymore. A depressed person doesnt want to feel like a burden on anyone so not reaching out sometimes seems easier.
"Everyone has problems" or "yeah lifes tough" or "you need to exercise/eat better" and the never helpful "stop feeling sorry for yourself"....all comments that someone with depression really doesnt need to hear. So what can you do if your friend is depressed? Simply be there. Show some empathy. Encourage talking about it and help to shine the light on the good times.
Patience, patience, patience. The dark clouds do lift and hopefully, these dark times are short lived,and the happy times are the norm.
So, rest is peace Robin Williams. You left behind laughter for the world -- that is pretty amazing.