Robin Williams suicide has taken the world by storm, how could someone who appeared so funny and full of joy suffer from depression that was so bad it took his life.
Depression reaches into many families including my own, my husband suffers from it, and hid it for many years until the day he sat on the couch and told me he wanted to die, and somehow I missed all the signs until that very moment. I now worry on a daily basis about his mental health and I think that in some ways makes it worse for him, but I have his back as much as I can, and I have to trust in his honesty when I ask the question "Are You Okay".
My youngest daughter also suffers from depression and there have been times when I have been able to do nothing except be there stroking her hair and letting her wrap herself up in my warm, cuddly blue blanket, or to sit with her in hospital waiting rooms, or to be her advocate when she struggled to find her voice ... all the while praying she would find the strength to come out the other side.
Yesterday she posted on Face Book and her words touched my soul and I asked her if I could share them here, for while I too suffer some dark days, true depression has thankfully so far left me alone.
The words in red that follow are spoken by one who has been to the bottom of the dark hole many, many times and has found the strength to keep rising back up. I hope and pray she continues to do that each and every day.
Her original post:
Remember, kids... Depression lies. It tells you dirty, nasty, naughty lies. Reach out, ask for help and more importantly, create a support system when you feel WELL so that people can recognise when you're not okay. More often than not, I can't speak the words out loud when I'm at the bottom of the hole but I use a certain song lyric which both my wife and my Mum recognise as code for I need help. Depression lies. Vale, Mr Williams.
Her replies to comments from friends:
One of the things I struggle with the most is not being able to talk about being depressed when I am depressed. I think that's the most dangerous part. I can talk about it when I'm well but when I'm not, I literally cannot get the words out. I've had to find other ways to let people know so that they can make sure I'm safe and okay. It's a horrible thing and I hate it with a fiery passion but unfortunately, sometimes that's not enough. Sometimes it wins and I feel like the only thing we can do is talk about it more openly and honestly. Shine a light or something...
In the interests of openness and honesty, if I ever post:
Too much time in one day
Too much time to occupy
And boring moods
And boring bedtimes
That's the magic code and I am not okay.
I'm happy to talk about it because I think it is really important and for people who don't suffer from it, it can be difficult to understand.
It is a daily, moment by moment and sometimes second by second fight. It is relentless. It's like constantly being pursued by something you can't see and often, it is the moment you relax and take a breath that it swoops in and you're drowning in it again.
There are things I do on a daily basis that keep me on top of it but I have to practice those things daily and even then, it's not foolproof.
That's why it is so important that people talk about it when they're well because once you're depressed, it's really easy for it to be too late.
You have to be honest about it and that's really, really hard. It's hard to tell your family, friends, work peeps and bosses that you have a mental illness but it's super important that you do.
Those are the people who may very well save your life one day.
I once spent an entire day sitting on the floor with my boss because there was nothing else I could do and he wanted to make sure I was okay.
One time I had to ask him to call me every morning for almost a month so that I could make sure I got out of bed and went to work even if I wasn't capable of actually doing my job and he did it and I kept breathing and eventually I felt better.
You always feel better eventually but it's the people around you who help you get to eventually. Those people save your life.
I remember once having to ask my baby brother to remove his razor from the bathroom when I was in the depths of depression. That was not an easy thing to do. I was scared because I was tired of fighting and when you're tired of fighting it can be hard to be vigilant. You feel like you're moving underwater and you find yourself in places you don't remember moving to and you find yourself doing things, you don't remember wanting to do.
Sometimes asking other people to be vigilant is what saves you even if it means asking your partner to stay up all night and listen to/watch you sleep because it's easier for you to keep breathing if she's making sure that you really are.
I also sometimes use the code 'sometimes my arms bend back'. It pretty much perfectly describes the physical manifestation of my depression so if I post that, bring tea and a blanket and prepare to lay in bed with me and stroke my hair for many hours. You can all come.
I am so thankful that she had a boss that accepted her and supported her through the dark times, I am so thankful she now has a wife that loves her for ALL of who she is. I am so thankful for those friends that have stood by her and so angry at those who left her by the wayside because it was too hard.
Thank you for reading and please feel to share if you think this will help someone you know and love.
Please, please, please if you read this and it speaks to you, if you are feeling like death is the only answer ... reach out and hold onto someone's hand and hold on tight. Build your network of friends, family and professionals that can help. Be open and honest.
And please, if you don't suffer depression, do not judge those that do, do not think they can magically make themselves right with the world, this is a mental illness it is not a choice they make.
And as the quote at the top of the post implies, be kind to one another for we never know the journey another person is on.
Lifeline for Australia call 13 11 14
For information about depression go to www.blackdoginsitutute.org.au