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Robin Williams - comedic face of depression

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We’ve all been inundated with posts and tweets about the unfortunate passing of Robin Williams. At the risk of saying what’s already been said, I still feel that as someone who lived in the dark hole of depression for 8 years, it is important to many of those suffering for me as well as others, to say something.

What most people see, and what I encountered when depression first crept in was the idea that I needed to snap out of it. I had so many blessings and reasons to be happy. I interpreted many well-meaning individuals’ comments as subtle ways to tell me that maybe I was being selfish, needy or ungrateful. I believed the same thing – and hated myself for it. So I stopped communicating with others. I wrote it in numerous non-judgmental journals. Those became a book.

Depression is hardly describable to those who haven’t been there. We look at someone like Robin Williams and think – He has money, fame and talent – why on earth would he take his own life? Look at the people who have none of those things – who really do live miserable lives, and they don’t selfishly snatch themselves away from loved ones. What about his family? How does that make them feel? He should have gotten some help. It was a cowardly thing to do.

Those thoughts are understandable if you don’t know the monster. I remember thinking all of those things about myself. Self-hatred for feeling so buried alive in my own misery. Wanting desperately to “snap out of it”, trying to count my blessings, which were many, and still, depression literally swallowed me up. I felt weak, hopeless, cried regularly and begged God to take me, or take the beast that was consuming me.

I am a strong woman. I have never been needy or dependent. I would have never thought I could be in that position. I thought depression was a word/excuse for those who simply weren’t as strong as others. It was hard to ask for help – to admit my vulnerability and feeling of defeat. I hated me more with every moment. I self medicated. I lived in my own private hell and contemplated suicide regularly.

I suppose people would have been surprised if I had gone through with ending my life. They would have been shocked that someone like me – with blessings and seemingly good health would do something so extreme. They would have called me selfish and cowardly, and that I had so much to live for. Those around me had no idea that I was sobbing inside.

I believe I understand people better since that time, and somehow in the grand scheme of things, it must have been necessary for my own growth. I am more empathetic. I am kinder. My faith, oddly enough, is stronger now than it ever was before those long 8 years. Maybe somewhere in it all were the lessons I needed to learn.

When I hear about tragedies such as Robin Williams’ death, or those of non famous, everyday people who have succumbed to suicide, I am reminded that I am a lucky one, and that I need to be vocal about an illness that can literally steal a person’s life. Help is out there and though it may take a while, depression can be managed. Cured? I don’t know if that’s a guarantee.

Where I am now – it seems like I could never fall back into such a dark place. But then again, I never expected to be there in the first place. I tread lightly on saying never – because as it is with most all of life – the only never is that we never know.

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