Monday, August 11, 2014
Robin Williams' Suicide: What only those that are depressed know.
As a fellow clinically depressed human, let me assure you that many of us are talking and talking and talking to therapists on speed dial, to our pastors, to our best friends, to our doctors, to God. As Daphne Merkin so eloquently stated in her 2009 NY Times Magazine article, "I have sat in shrinks' offices going on four decades and talked about my wish to die the way the way other people may talk about their wish to find a lover." We talk. I promise you we talk. We also take medicine and exercise. We stop eating foods with unnatural chemicals. We sit ad nauseum in front of UV lights in the darkness of winter. We take vitamin supplements. Hell some have even subjected their delicate minds to electric shock "therapy" to rid themselves of the malignant drowning-in-a-deep-thick-black-bleak-mucky-mud-feeling that is a favorite companion of this horrific disease.
But here's something that many don't know...especially people who aren't depressed, who haven't had a run in with this dire foe. Sometimes all the talking, the meds, the running and eating well, spending time with loved ones, even time in a psychiatric facility--it isn't enough. We sometimes have bouts where nothing works--NOTHING, and it is those times that are the most daunting and haunted for those of us who try to function in a society that sometimes stigmatizes or rejects the searing physical and emotional pain that one feels when in the midst of that crushing remoteness.
When depression pitches a tent, when it decides to stay despite all measures, it is suffocating in its presence. For me, every inch--from the hair follicles on my head to the numerous bones in my feet-- prickles with excruciating merciless pain and burn with the distinct feeling of one million matches being pressed against the totality of my skin. My limbs and head feel like they weigh thousands of pounds. It is a monumental task to lift myself out of bed each day and move through what used to be simple air, oxygen and hydrogen that instead feels like a massive sucking sludge. When I lay down at the end of the day the exhaustion is inexplicable and a concrete slab of anxiety presses down on my chest making it impossible to breathe. When depression fights to stay, it follows me into my sleep permeating my dreams making them real and vivid and murderous. It raids my subconscious and brings to the surface every fear that's buried there. I wake in the midst of a panic so fierce that I am sure my beleaguered heart will explode into tiny bits, and then...and then I wake up. I do it all over again; a twisted Ground Hog Day movie that refuses to end. Is it any wonder that some choose to end the cycle themselves?
So in honor of Robin, for his laughter and his legacy, instead of sending someone to the nearest hotline or hoping that the clinically depressed reach out to someone, please...reach out to them, stay with them, ensure them that you'll never leave, that you'll be there for as long as they need you. I am lucky. I have that--ten fold. Don't get me wrong, so many have left--"friends" telling me that my life just drags them down--depression is not for the weak. It takes great strength for both the depressed and those that love them to not waiver in their resolve. Remember, those that are depressed don't want to be that way. We are working, working every hour, every minute, every millisecond to navigate a life with this disease. So, for Robin's sake, to end the stigma of this disease, and to understand it just a little bit more, if you know someone whose depressed, reach out with an ear, a hand, an unwavering friendship. Be a light in that unending blackness.