Depression is on the world’s mind right now with the tragic suicide of Robin Williams. Robin William’s hid his emotions behind a seemingly joyous exuberance for life. His longtime friend David Letterman said “I had no idea the man was in pain.” That is sadly more common than you would think. It’s quite easy to hide depression if you have struggled with it your entire life.
No one knows the pain you are in. That is the tragedy of depression. It is easily hidden behind a smile, a laugh, a joke. When you struggle with depression but must go to work, you exert all the emotional strength that you would normally use for joy and happiness, into creating the outward persona you need to face the world.
People who don’t suffer from depression don’t understand how your brain can shut down. People who understand unhappiness cannot understand the despair woven throughout depression. For someone who is depressed, it is not so simple to ‘recover’ by going for a walk to ‘clear your head’ or going to a party to cheer yourself up.
Robin WIlliams had ‘everything’ but in the end he felt he had nothing.
I am depressed as a write this. I have been struggling for about a week now, off-and-on. My depressive episodes seem to be coming more frequently and lasting longer, much to my despair. All the projects, books, blogs, my business, friends and even my beloved Ernie, don’t matter. The dogs I love and rescued? I don’t care about them right now. I am teetering on the edge of weepiness. Ernie hugged me as he left this morning, and the hot droplets fell despite my best efforts to remain calm.
I can see the things I love through an invisible fog. I can see them but I cannot touch them. My body is sluggish and my brain is tired. I just….don’t….care….about anything.
I’m not talking about situational depression; the kind created by tragedy, death, divorce, a business failure. I’m not talking about depression that actually does go away as it is more a deep-seated sadness based upon an event. The depression I write about is biological in nature, possibly hereditary, and can be controlled by but not cured by, medication.
Usually my medication works. However it does not work every day. On days such as today I hide from the world, weeping for no reason. There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with my life. I am happily married, I have friends who truly love me and wish they could help me. I own a home and have my own business. I travel and take more time off than the average American. So on the surface I have nothing to be depressed ‘for’.
Tomorrow if I feel better I will ‘regret’ the day I just ‘wasted’, which of course won’t help me move towards happiness. So I chose to write today. At least I am doing something that I can look back upon and feel constructive about. Later today I may drag myself out to the store. I have some things to buy for a business I am starting. I will work on some of my insurance client challenges. I won’t talk to anyone, but I will focus on getting something done.
Will it help? Maybe. But then again, maybe not. Depression is odd that way. You can accomplish amazing things and they seem worthless in the moment.
I understand in a way what Robin Williams was going through. He had different demons to battle than I did, but we were fighting similar wars. I feel the pain for his family and friends. If they do not suffer from clinical depression they will never truly understand why he took his life. Only he knew why, and why the tidal wave of pain that he had been surfing, finally engulfed him. R.I.P. Robin Williams. You are and will be forever beloved.
If you know someone who is suffering or you think may be suffering from depression or mental illness, reach out to them, no matter how often they rebuff you. They still need to know you are there and you love them, even as they reject you in their pain. They are not rejecting you; their disease is.