I was as shocked as everyone else when I got the news of Robin Williams’ passing. I have been a fan of his since the “Mork & Mindy” days. It affected me for another reason as well. Some time back, I went through a very difficult time in my life. I faced the same depression that Williams did. And I came very close to making the same decision – to “leave early”. Obviously, I made a different decision, a different choice.
Let me say right here that I do not stand in judgment of Robin Williams. He was, no, is an amazing talent and a bright light in this world. His passing won’t change that. I don’t know what he was facing, or more importantly, thinking and feeling. Nobody does. So what I’m talking about is my decision to Live. Maybe that will help somebody else facing that same decision. I can’t think of a better way to honor Robin’s life. At least, I can’t think of a better way for me to honor him, or any other person who chose to leave us early.
I wrote in my journal once that depression was like a heavy, wet, rotting coat. It weighed me down emotionally and spiritually. It wasn’t that I didn’t care; all of my feelings were so numbed I couldn’t really feel them. And my general frame of mind was already pretty negative. In the previous 2 years, I’d had to shut down a business to avoid bankruptcy, had to quit a job to avoid being fired, screwed up my marriage so badly that it failed, had to sell the farm to prevent foreclosure, and in a fit of anger, quit the better-paying job that I’d gotten. They were all caused by my choices; no sympathy sought or needed. The depression affected all of the choices, though. And that’s a key thing to understand. Depression colors everything you see, everything you think, everything you perceive.
At some point in the journey, I was faced with a choice. Was I going to stay or go? One of the biggest decisions of my Life, and I was in no fit frame of mind to make the decision. I don’t think anybody suffering from depression is capable of making a decision like that rationally. I made the choice to Live by the Grace of God, the Love of my family, and the Help of my friends. Even with all that help, it was a close call. I got that help because I reached out to somebody and asked for it. It took me a long while to ask for that help. In fact, I laughed at the first person who offered to pray for me. It took me several years to believe that I was “good enough” for Grace. I know now that you don’t have to qualify for Grace. It’s there for all of us, regardless of our beliefs. I was able to make the choice to Live because I asked for help, even when I was sure I didn’t deserve it.
If you’re suffering from depression, know that somebody, somewhere Loves you. Even if they’ve passed on, they’re still here every time you think about them. Reach out to somebody. Talk to a friend. Ask your pastor, priest, or rabbi. Go see a therapist. But talk to SOMEBODY. Simply having somebody listen to you will help.
Start a journal, either paper or digital. You can buy a good quality composition book for $1.00. Write in it every time you feel the need. Say whatever you need to say, but get it out of your head. Pour out your anger & anguish on that paper, so it won’t fester in your mind. I’m on Volume 32, myself. And I’ve kept every one. Even when I think nothing has changed, I can go back and see just how much I HAVE changed from the person I was. But write it and burn it immediately if that’s what you need to do. It’s your journal. Write in it. It helps.
There are a lot of easy things to do that can help you. Get out and move around. Take a walk outside. Get some fresh air. Spending time outside was one of the best therapies for me. Listen to uplifting music. Read positive books. Turn off the TV. Stay off the computer. Hang out with folks that make you feel better. Every one of these things helped me. They’ll help you, too. But they don’t take the place of talking to somebody about how you feel.
If you have somebody that you know that is suffering from depression, give them some Love of any kind. Even if it’s taking them a strawberry pie, dropping by to chat on a regular basis, or sitting with them without judging them while they drink themselves to sleep (which my father did for me). Encourage them to get help. Keep an eye on them. And “pray without ceasing”. However you do it, show them some Love. Trust me, it makes a difference.
And if they make the decision to go, don’t be angry with them. Love them. Remember them. Mourn them. Let them heal in your own memory and in the memories of others.
Send some Love to Robin Williams’ family. They need it. If you think of him in the next few weeks, send them Love again. They’ll need it then even more. Then send some Love to yourself. You need it, too. We all do.