Yesterday news broke about Robin Williams.
His death by suicide. Hanging.
This was not accidental by any means.
Yesterday I couldn't stop crying. I was so, so sad. Sad that someone felt so hopeless. That there was no other option. There was no way out. Someone so wonderful, generous, giving, funny, & bigger than life could be lost to this ugly, monstrous disease we call depression. It just made me sad down to me inner being.
And sad that I, too, battle this same disease. This disease that can make someone feel so utterly lost, so despondent, so tormented, so worthless. I have not publicly talked about my depression and anxiety, but today that is going to change.
I battle depression & anxiety.
Mental health issues seem to be taboo. There is a negative stigma, embarrassment, fear, too many judgmental people. But it needs to be brought out of the dark shadows. Those of us who have been diagnosed with a mental illness need to rally and stand up with our heads held high. We need to stop living in fear... fear of being judged, fear of someone "finding out", fear of someone thinking we're weak, or that we're just "looking for attention".
Many people are shocked to find out that I battle depression & anxiety, that I've been diagnosed with clinical depression, that I've seen psychiatrists, have been in therapy, that I take anti-depressants & anxiety meds.
"But you always have a smile on your face!"
"You're so happy all the time!"
"You are so outgoing!!"
"You're always laughing!"
"You're so confident!"
Here's a little secret: It's all fake. Yep, it's a mask. A facade. Smoke and mirrors. It's all an act. I am not happy. I am not confident. I feel worthless. I feel insignificant. I disgust myself. I feel my life is meaningless. I struggle to get out of bed each day. EACH day. I hate to leave my house.
There. The secret is out. The cat is out of the bag.
Nicole Curtis, the Rehab Addict says: "...battling my own demons for years and masking it with sarcasm, wit and overconfidence to make everyone else feel as if it's okay...."
I feel like I could've said that.
I've been fighting this disease for decades. My earliest recollection of it is sometime in jr. high/middle school. But it took me more than 20 years before I finally sought help for it. I was 36 when I first broke down in my doctor's office and told her I needed help. I was depressed and I couldn't do it any longer on my own. It was the best decision I've ever made. It took a few months to figure out the right combination of meds. I began seeing a psychiatrist. I began therapy, I went every Friday afternoon. For a full year. Eight years later I'm in a much better place, but it is *still* a daily struggle. I should still be in therapy, I know I would benefit from it. But we've moved and I don't have the energy to start all over again with a new doctor/therapist. To rehash it all over again.
So there you have it. ANYBODY can be affected by this disease. You would probably be shocked at how many people you know that battle depression and anxiety. This nasty, ruthless, quiet, hidden disease. And make no mistake, it is a medical disease. Much like cancer or diabetes.
A friend of mine said: "Something many, many people don't realize is that being depressed about "something" is NOT the same as depression. It's 2 totally different things. I call depression the black hole. It sucks you into an abyss of hopelessness."
Very well said.
Here are three blog posts that are really worth reading.
- Depression Can No Longer be the Elephant in the Room
- Robin Williams and Why Funny People Kill Themselves
- The Death of Robin Williams, and What Suicide Isn't
Here is one more interesting read. I fit many of these points, especially #'s 6, 11, & 13.