A sad day

Slide1I have about 125 blogs that are fed to my reader every day.  Most days I check in a couple of times to see what has been posted by people I admire and like to follow what they are thinking.  I checked more than that today.

I have never really been enamored much by popularity.  Underneath the facade of celebrity, they’re just people.  I guess when entertainers or politicians or sports heroes I have connected with over time pass away, I feel like I’ve lost a friend.  Maybe it’s just because I am growing older, but death captures my heart a little differently these days.

Today was a difficult day.  So many people reflecting on the suicide of Robin Williams.   If you want to read a couple of really good posts, you can check them out here and here.

Here’s what I want to pass on:  Depression, mental illness and addiction are real.  But, it seems like the more the stories are heard and played out for the world to see, the more polarizing the reality becomes.

For all the sympathetic and empathetic reactions to William’s suicide, there have been a huge number of cynical, unsympathetic, and judgmental responses standing in opposition to those calling for understanding and grace.

“He took the coward’s way out.”

“Depression is just an excuse for weak people.”

“Come on.  Everybody gets a little depressed sometimes.”

 “He didn’t die from a disease.  He died from his choice.”

If those are similar to your thoughts about depression, I guess I’d like to kindly ask you to keep them to yourself.  I’m not usually much for openly confronting people for voicing their opinion, but I just have to on this one.  (Btw, if you’re a friend and you’ve already posted opinions about depression like this on Facebook, trust me, I haven’t read them and probably won’t.  I don’t spend much time on FB these days.)

Here’s the truth.  If that’s what you think about depression, you’ve never been seriously depressed.  Sorry.

However, if you are, or ever have been depressed, your heart is broken for Robin Williams and the unimaginable darkness he found himself in, during his final hours.

I have never been where Robin Williams found himself yesterday.  But I have walked in similar darkness.

I’ve written about it here and here and here and here and here and here.  

If you’re struggling at all with thinking you might be depressed, I would encourage you to read my posts and see if you identify with any part of the road I have travelled.  

From where I sit, depression is real.  I have been there.

But there is hope.

And you don’t have to fight this enemy alone.  There are ways to fight back.  Give me a shout, if you want a friend on this journey.

 

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5 thoughts on “A sad day

  1. Having read about the road that you’ve traveled with depression (yes I read your blogs and posts :-)), I knew that you would eventually post about Robin. I’m saddened that his pain was so deep. I do fight these battles myself on a regular basis… just went through a small one. Each day as I get older I do also wonder… will it pass.. why bother, etc.. will it get better. Maybe hell really is on earth and I’m in it.. etc. I read one of the people that you referred us to and yes it takes family to keep you one step ahead of jumping off that bridge… or at least that’s what has worked for me.

  2. Well said Padre. The stigma of Illness in this country is one of its greatest problems. I have read figures of 26.2% of the American population suffering from some form of diagnosable mental disorder. That is over 57 million people. It would seem to me that it is a large enough group that if empowered would be able to make America see what they are going through and demand that something be done about it. That said, they often can not speak for themselves. They are either too proud or too beaten down by societies prejudices to speak up. We need to do it for them.

    I have experience with mental illness in my family. My mother was bi-polar, manic depressive with schizophrenic tendencies. Unfortunately, she was not diagnosed until she was in her mid-fifties. My father was an Army Colonel and he was afraid that my mother’s condition would destroy his military career. Back in the day, the family reflected heavily on an Army officer’s career trajectory. As a result, he controlled it and hid it from everyone for years. After his death in 1993, she had nothing to squelch the demons and it all came out in a large and nearly tragic way. After a stay in a metal hospital and complete diagnosis things were better for her for many years although she did move away from her previous surroundings to get a fresh start. I believe that she felt that her surroundings contributed to her condition and people would never treat her as a well person.

    It is amazing to me that we, as a society readily acknowledge and accept alcoholism and drug abuse as a problem that we understand and are willing to provide resources to help yet the mentally ill are shunned. It is a problem that is not going to solve itself.

    1. Sean, I’m so sorry. Hiding and shaming is such a huge part of the epidemic. I’m usually pretty skeptical of statistical studies (religious, societal, political), but from my experience, 26.2% might even be low. I will continue to speak for those with depression and other mental disorders who have no voice. Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. I hear you! I to have felt this unrest lately. I suffer from depression and fight it daily. It really bothers me someone calls me and they have no one to call or talk to. It really bothers me when my disease stops me from helping others. I just have to pray that God helps me pull through another day. I hope I’m never to busy to stop and listen. #depression is real

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