The Reality of Depression
“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” ~Robin Williams
Even though through the years there has been talk about Robin Williams struggle with addiction and depression, I think most people including myself, were stunned to hear the news of his suicide. His ability to make people laugh was such a gift, and something that he was clearly put on this earth to do. It’s just so tragic that while he was able to put a smile on so many people’s faces, he was not able to help himself.
That’s the reality of depression, and while there is such a deep sadness surrounding Robin Williams death, this is an opportunity for people to educate themselves on depression and mental health. It’s easy to not think about if it doesn’t directly affect you, but the reality is if you’re not suffering from depression, someone you know most likely is.
When I was in college I had a good friend who was depressed. She would try to explain to me what it felt like, but I couldn’t really understand where she was coming from. I have vague memories of her describing a heaviness and grayness that surrounded her. What I found so interesting was that many times when we hung out I would never have guessed that that’s how she was feeling. I was either so unaware or she hid it pretty well. In my mind if someone wasn’t hiding in a dark room and crying, they weren’t depressed.
But sometimes you just can’t understand something until you’ve experienced it. Many years after those talks with my friend, I was diagnosed with depression. It seems that I had actually been suffering from it for some time, but some personal stuff I was going through propelled me into a pretty dark place. Sadly it took me sinking pretty low to recognize what depression actually was. Once a guy I was dating said to me that every morning he woke up and the sky was blue, and I couldn’t relate to that for even a second. But I never thought, “I’m depressed”. And honestly, who wants to even go there.
Finally, I understood what my friend was talking about in college. I finally got the heaviness, the grayness that she spoke of. And I felt so bad that I hadn’t been more compassionate back then. Because being depressed is an awful, awful feeling that you think will never go away. Life is full of ups and downs, but for some of us it’s a little harder to pull ourselves out of those down times. I know from experience that many people just can’t comprehend this. Some people cannot understand how someone can be so unhappy that they would rather die. Obviously in a rational moment of thinking, you wouldn’t want to.
When I think about people those I have and have not known, who have committed suicide, I feel this deep sorrow for them because I get it. That feeling of hopelessness can take over and it’s almost impossible to think that things can change. While I’ve been able to work my way through times of hopelessness, anyone who kills themselves or attempts to, is at such a deeper level of despair. And that’s what breaks my heart. In that moment, they don’t feel like there is any other option.
Everyone deals with their own depression in different ways. And I certainly am not one to be giving advice on such a serious topic. However, I can give my personal experience because that’s all I have to go on. In time things always get better. I’m always able to smile again, laugh with friends, be around people, and sleep through the night. Hope is restored.
If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255