After Robin Williams very sad passing and a conversation or two later with my children, I realize that God may have given me another appointment. We each have our stories to tell, our testimonies to share and I believe HE wants us to share them with others in the hopes we shine for HIM like a flashlight in the dark, for others. Well after the below conversation, I believe I’ve decided it is time to share my recent struggle with depression. Before I do however, here is my conversation as close as I can remember it with my daughter this morning:
My daughter brought up the fact that she didn’t realize Robin Williams had taken his life. I shared with her that I had read a conversation last evening on face book where one person typed a comment that it was “a shame he (Robin) couldn’t use his resources to get himself some help.” Well it struck a chord with me literally. Bells went off too. That is not the dinner bell either. More like a gong!
OK, first and foremost, depression is not biased and on whom it attacks or doesn’t or whom it takes to the edge and sometimes over. Money and finances also have nothing to do with it. There are wealthy and non-wealthy alike affected. Secondly who knows ..only (Robin’s closest friends and family) whether he did seek help, yet that is beside the point. Depression is real and it is dangerous.
People have been known to sniff at it (the word depression) and mutter to themselves and others …”why can’t he or she just get it together?,. And say such things to those suffering with it like “stop whining”, “stop all your crying” and “I can’t take one more sad song she sings.” OK – that is all well and good (as they are only words) and we certainly can’t control what the other person says or thinks but simply..those are lame and very cruel things to say. Depression is an illness. Depression can be a chemical imbalance or it could be related and effects of abuse of which both I know about. It could be involving a family history. This is true for my life as well. But the most important truth here is …it (depression) is real!
The sad news is that bullying (in person or at a distance) and ignoring and pushing people away who are fighting depression can cause real damage. Let me ask you – have you ever been so sad that you thought the sky had changed to a different shade of blue or was consistently gray when you were hurt by something or someone? Come one – don’t sit there and have me believe you haven’t experienced it. If you haven’t, then you are possibly very young – so unfortunately I feel it necessary to share these words “wait for it.”You will not be exempt in this life from receiving a broken heart of some sort.
So what if someone you loved left you? How did it make you feel? What if someone betrayed you? Did you think your world would end? I don’t wish that hurt and pain on anyone but what if that person that mattered so much to you – died? Was your world turned upside down? Or what about this scenario – have you ever been put down (verbal assault) day in and day out? What if you were told you were stupid and unloved and that you couldn’t or wouldn’t find your way out to survive on your own and this went on for years? What if you were told even your thoughts and words were invalid – day in and day out for even more years than you can remember?
Did you find yourself isolating from the outside world because you were ashamed for others to know that you were living in abuse or truthfully because of the isolator? What if you felt it was your fault for even being there and you deemed yourself a complete failure for not being able to get out of this sad existence? Did people ask you why you were still there in abuse – berating you, when they knew nothing besides what you shared that took place behind the closed doors? They knew nothing of your real concerns and things that made you feel that you needed to stay, IE. financial reasons, or because of children or simply because in truth – you were crippled by the other parties putdowns? What if you found it hard enough to wake up each day and function, much less develop a plan of escape? I ask you these questions to ask you to examine whether you have ever felt these pangs in your heart, or lived these isolating moments where you felt that you were on a deserted island with no help in sight? I sincerely hope you haven’t, but for those that have, I have been there too!
The next thing I shared with my daughter, was that it makes me sad for Robin’s family. I had read that posting I mentioned above between two men who were having a disagreement of sorts from one of their responses. I was glad they had resolved the dispute finally and I saw that each apologized for their comments to the other. I wrote that I was happy to see the issue resolved and added “because life is too short.” I explained that I had been to this blue point in my life and that I never thought I would ever reach that point. When you are young and have the world by the tail you think you will always be able to slay the demons and dragons yourself. Yet I have found myself on the floor literally. Not once – but twice and enough tears to sink several Titanic s. No, I normally do not respond to those conversations on face book and I did not know the two men, however, I really felt that need to weigh in, if not for them, then to acknowledge to myself that I am healing albeit slowly.
OK, here is the other point I shared with my daughter, I said to her that it truly makes me sad that “we” sit in judgment of others at a distance. Yes!! I said WE, myself included! I said it grieves me to know that someone in the same room or in the yard nearby muttered to others with words with such things as “what is His issue or her issue and adding “They look mean” or “they are mean” or “they are overweight” or “they are..”. You get my point, right? Especially within earshot for heavens sake.
Judgment can be harsh but what if it was carried another step further? What if in your community you were labeled because of the words mentioned above? Maybe the issue started with one comment shared and then continued as a repeated story to others – like domino’s. Perhaps this was one sided and there were no facts checked out, at least with the person the words were directed toward. Would you be justified to spread those words yourself with just a glance or because you had received the words from someone about someone? Would you feel obligated to “follow” the lead and add to the sneers, turned backs, blue light special stares with giggling and jabs verbally wherever the “look – there they are are” were around? Gee, I hope not. What if that person was painfully shy and just needed to know someone – anyone out there cared?
I also said to my daughter “to think that someone with depression is labeled as mean when maybe that face you see is just sad or fearful?” I went on to say “it occurs to me that if the person bullied or slandered, heaven forbid did something to harm themselves after hearing about these things said of them, maybe the storytellers should carry part of the blame themselves if heaven forbid something bad happened?” When I say blame, I am referring to ‘carry it on the inside’. I mean how would that make you feel if you did find out the person you had shunned on numerous occasions and labeled …hurt or mortally wounded themselves? I shutter to think that ….no….that grieves me deeply. Ok – this is not about blame, but about awareness.
Again, I said to my daughter “money has nothing to do with it” Here is another point I wanted to make to her: People with depression can mask it with such things as humor. (I know personally. I have always loved to make people laugh, despite how I felt.) As in the case of Robin, a comedian by profession. He was uniquely gifted at the art of humor. People can be the class clown and be depressed. People learn to wear a mask as the occasion calls for it to hide the pain. People may be feeling helpless or ashamed they can’t shake the blues on their own, so they paint that cute little ‘plastic smile’ on their face. They think to themselves God says “be strong, be courageous.” Or what if they remember from their childhood someone said, “just smile and make everyone think you’re okay. No one wants to be bothered with your issues. When you’re asked, just say you’re ‘fine.’”
Maybe people are seeking help through community resources, yet there is no over the counter or prescription cream; like acne cream, for depression. It just doesn’t go away overnight, in fact I would venture to say it would probably be a battle through out one’s life. Saying that does not make that person weak. Let me make that one point clear, yet like an illness, it does create weak moments in ones life.
I know some probably do get better but from what I’ve read, however, like chickenpox, only by the fact that it is a real disease, it lies dormant or controlled until there is a trigger? What if that trigger was the treating someone like a leper in their own community? This person can simply find no reason why this is happening?Guess what? It doesn’t matter why? God can handle that. What matters is that, yes! depression is real. It doesn’t matter wealthy or not and it IS easy to mask.
Here is where it gets even more personal. I shared with my daughter that (which she already knew) yet I wondered if she thought about – that my own family members had no idea the pain that had been felt inside. I venture to say that I probably have been oblivious to family members pain also, neither situation on purpose. Yes, the family members knew the word depression had been discussed over the years and that help was being sought, but not that tears were shed in silence and in and away from the family on purpose? Oh, I’m sure family can tell the up and down days, unless we are in complete denial or we just mused it was another bad mood and went on about our day. It happens, right? So again here are the points that I continue reiterating – 1. Depression is real 2. Money or lack there of has nothing to do with it 3. Depression can be masked or hidden.
I really feel this has become the age of “bully” I’m sad to say! You see it on TV, even reporters and anchors aren’t exempt. You see it in the news. You hear about it in music, on the radio even. How sad it is to me that what I once heard was happening only to kids in school, really has affected all ages. So what should we do? I know I don’t have all the answers and I can only speak from my experience with depression but I believe there are a thing or two or three that we can do to help ourselves and others.
One of those things I believe is acknowledgment that depression is very serious and not to be trifled with. Secondly, I believe we can remember the old adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover”. Depression and bad things from it, are real.
I had written some time ago about not being able to see the other person’s heart or even their thoughts as they walked on by, so why would we assume that someone that wasn’t wearing a smile was “mean”? Lets just stop all of this judgment ( a real sore point with me) and to bring me to the third thing – I believe what we can and should do for each other in this short lived life is – ‘ACCEPTANCE’. Spread it like mayonnaise or mustard or add a spoonful to your coffee. I’m not trying to make light of this by any means. I truly believe God did not create us to be mean to each other. God is love and his work for us is to extend that love to others …especially our neighbors. Who knows – YOU could save a life!
God Bless Robin and his family. I pray for his family’s peace and that their pain to be lessened and God’s will through it all. I pray for everyone that deals or has dealt with depression either in themselves or with friends or family, finds at least one person who cares enough to reach out to them in genuine help. I pray for our ‘we are the world‘ and ‘twin towers‘ mentality to return to our communities. At the time of that song, I felt the sense of pulling together as one! As awful as the planes taking down the towers, afterward, I felt such a sense of unity in our humanness. We, as humans were made for relationships. We were made to love and be loved and accepted.
One last note – fear can also go hand in hand with mistreatment and depression. The fears are just as real, at least for the person they are occurring in. Fear is crippling. Fear is stifling. Fear along with depression can extinguish a life.
Be an extender of life. Be an extension of love – God’s love. Don’t assume you can read another person’s face and know what is going on inside. My soapbox, yes maybe yet, it is now part of my testimony! Go out and show love! Go out and extend grace! Go out and accept! Go out and save a life by telling them about Jesus and his healing ministry. Go out and save a life!
If it (depression) is happening to you, know that God loves you and you are not alone. Alone is scarey. I know what feeling that “no one would care if you lived or died in this world feels like”. But that is a lie the evil one wants you and I to believe. There ARE others out there for us. Pray about it. Give it to God. Please give it to God and please don’t hide in your upstairs bedroom feeling like a failure and not worthy. Jesus declared you are – through His blood. You are a co-heir in the kingdom of heaven. That means you are in the family of God!
You are loved! ….and if you need to hear it today – I love you and I will praying for us all!