Hello again everyone. Today I am full of sadness. I woke up to the news that Robin Williams has died and that in the end he couldn't outrun his depression and was overwhelmed.
I don't tend to get actually, really, truly sad when celebrities die but this has hit me on two levels.
Firstly, my earliest memories are of watching "Mork and Mindy" and there is a Robin Williams film for pretty much every formative stage of my life so I feel like he has always been there.
Secondly, I am always rooting for anyone who battles depression in and out of the public eye. I am looking to them to see that it can be beaten and that it is a beast that can be tamed. It helps me continue with the daily struggle of feeling isolated by this horrible illness.
I don't know if its true, but I read that Robin Williams was on medication, and that he had recently turned back to cocaine to be able to "feel" again. I was on various anti-depressants for 16 years and it was that desperate need to feel something again (anything - good, bad or indifferent), that gave me the strength to go through the withdrawal process and the accompanying physical symptoms. It has been a relentlessly hard journey ever since, but I wouldn't swap my worst days to go back to that numb existence (it can't be called living).
Once I had the clarity of my emotions back (good, bad and indifferent), I found the balls to make some major life changes, got myself out of some very unhealthy situations and made a lot of changes for the better. I thought I was cured.
Turns out I wasn't. Everything life-wise was going my way (with a couple of minor exceptions due to the past trying to encroach on the present), but I've been having to fight against my depression harder in the last six months that I've had to fight in my entire life. Something inside my brain is refusing to allow me to feel loved, worthy, successful, happy - or even allow me five minutes peace.
Despite going on with my day to day life as much as possible, I have felt like a fraud masquerading as Sam, not just for work and online, but to my husband and my daughter too. I'm frequently asked by my husband if I'm ok and I always reply that yes, I am. Then I'm annoyed that he can't read my mind, while at the same time being glad he can't read my mind so that he can't see what an absolute train wreck I am inside. And that is the isolating nature of the illness.
I refuse to go back to the medication. Please note that I am in NO WAY saying that people shouldn't take anti-depressants - they are very effective as a short term fix and help a lot of people. But they are no longer for me. I have an amazing therapist and I go every week. I deal with my current feelings and all my baggage and try to keep my head above water that way.
But when I see that someone like Robin Williams has lost to the same foe that I am fighting, it reminds me that this can be a terminal illness. I have never considered ending it all, mostly thanks to my daughter - I can't imagine leaving her having to live with something like that, but its a stark reminder of where it can lead. On some days it spurs me on to fight harder, but on my darker days it makes me believe that despite winning a few battles, I will never win the war.
If you think someone is depressed, don't just ask them if they're alright, they'll likely say yes for fear of being judged or being a burden. If you know them well enough ask them instead if they're depressed, try and initiate a discussion. If you can find a way of making a depressed person feel less alone (trust me, its almost impossible, but we usually appreciate the effort if we are able to on that day).
My husband and I use this now, it works better if he asks if I want him to build me a nest rather than asking how I am:
Excuse the rambling post, but if this tragedy gets us all talking about our own experiences and reading about this makes even just one person feel less alone, then its been worth it.