The world was taken back when we heard of Robin Williams’ death on Monday. To hear how someone who brought smiles and laughter to the world for so many years take his own life is devastating. It shows us that regardless of fame, money, adoring fans, and a loving family do not equate to inner peace. Our hearts broke when one of the best comedians died, but it does not mean that his life cannot be a positive influence to many.
Depression has no prejudice. It is not racist, sexist, nor does it favor one gender over the other. Depression does not care what you have going that is good or who loves you. It will attack anyone. Approximately 1 in 10 Americans or 13 million suffer from depression and of the nearly 30,000 suicides per year in North America, depression is culprit for over two-thirds of them. To put it in a different perspective, for every one homicide there are three suicides in America, and of those three, two of them were from depression. This is a problem! Depression is not something that can just be brushed over. It is not an emotion. Depression is a break in the brain which basically causes the person to see the world from a dark and skewed perspective.
From my personal experience, depression really sucks!
In late 2012 my world turned upside down. I was erratic in actions and thought. I was depressed: too ashamed to admit, and embarrassed. For me, being depressed didn’t even make sense. I was the person everyone came to for an emotional pick me up. How could I be that person and depressed at the same time? It was dark and I knew I was not myself but I was clueless how to get out of it. Anyone close to me could see as clear as day that I was not myself and something was out of whack. In addition to being the guy everyone came to for emotional rejuvenation I was also known as a Christian minister and there is this stigma that Christians are not allowed to be depressed. But there I was, depressed and wishing my life would end. I did not want to feel the pain that dwelled in my soul any longer. There was this hollowness inside the deepest place of my soul and because it was broken, nothing could fill it.
A piece of advice: do not attempt to diagnose yourself via Google. I did and by the time I was done I was convinced I had all sorts of other issues.
I did not think I could trust anyone, not even myself. The pain I felt reverberated inside of me and all I wanted was to not feel the pain. After nights of lost sleep, crying to the point of breaking blood vessels in my face, and doing anything I could to just hold down my job and fake a smile.
I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone with my problems. I already knew most of the people around me were dealing with depression so how I could I add to their already full plate? So I tried to bear it all myself.
It was one of those sleepless nights. I would sleep for an hour or two and then wake up with my mind racing while my heart was full of sorrow and anger that I thought that death would be a way out. It wasn’t that I wanted to take my life per say but I just did not want to feel the anguish and turmoil. I saw death as a pain reliever. Suicide was my escape but I could not bring myself to it. My family had already suffered enough suicide and I could not add myself to the list. I was afraid who would find me. These are the thoughts that went through my head. I wasn’t selfish, a coward, or seeking attention. I was out of solutions and antidotes to the feelings of not being loved, accepted, valued, or worth anything. Why would I? My experience was that everyone would leave at some point and no one saw me worth the time and effort to stick around. Was this true? No, that is the effect of depression. You’re broken in thinking and seeing life.
To say someone is selfish because they see suicide as their only option is horrible and completely untrue. It is really hard to judge matters such as depression and suicide from an outside point of view unless you have walked through it. To imagine what Robin Williams was going through is nearly impossible unless you were Robin Williams. I have read various articles about Robin’s untimely death, and I think the best so far was from Russell Brand. He talked about how Robin could have tried to reach out, but he would have just been met with positive reinforcement of how great he already. Here is what Russell had to say:
Robin Williams could have tapped anyone in the western world on the shoulder and told them he felt down and they would have told him not to worry, that he was great, that they loved him. He must have known that. He must have known his wife and kids loved him, that his mates all thought he was great, that millions of strangers the world over held him in their hearts, a hilarious stranger that we could rely on to anarchically interrupt, the all-encompassing sadness of the world. Today Robin Williams is part of the sad narrative that we used to turn to him to disrupt.
That is how I believe it was like for Robin based on my experience. Regardless of who reached out to him, it would not have mattered until he fixed his thought process.
I made it through my bout with depression. I eventually found someone I could be completely vulnerable with. My friend of 17 years was able to tell through text messages that I was not all right. She asked, “Wes, are you depressed?” and I could not lie. This was the first step to my recovery from this horrible monster that tries to steal lives. From there I started counseling with two people. I often felt like Humpty Dumpty and people were putting me back together. Through time I realized my mind was often my worst enemy. Over-thinking when in an unhealthy state of mind is never a good thing.
To those who are reading this and are facing depression, please do not be silent. Talk to someone, anyone please. You are not alone. Many others have been where you are and can help you. Do not for one moment believe you are weak, There is a greater display of strength in admitting you need help than in remaining silent. There were many times when I was not sure if it was going to be worth it and I can tell you friends, it is. Keep fighting and as a prophet of old once said:
Arise and shine for your healing has come.
If you need someone to talk to, please call 1-800-273-8255