News today of the death of Robin Williams has filled up my news feed on Facebook and is the topic of conversation everywhere. Although the original reports were a bit vague, it has been reported that he killed himself. It was also noted that Mr. Williams had struggled with addictions and depression for years. As always happens in these types of situations, there is much speculation as to why he might have taken his own life. I have seen everything from “his show wasn’t good” (which struck me as absurd) to some very real – and good – information on depression. And then, the ever-popular, “Who knows what was on his mind?”
2009. That was the year it happened. I slipped, fell, crashed into a pit of depression. There were so many who thought they knew how to fix me. I was told to control my emotions. Pray more. Pray harder. Read the Bible more. Quit fixating on myself.
It would have all been really good advice. Except. Not in this case. Not in the case of depression that leaves you paralyzed. I controlled my emotions so well I managed to never reveal to my therapist that I was suicidal. Pray harder? (One friend posted, “how do you even do that?”) Believe me when I tell you that I’ve never prayed harder. The prayers vacillated between, “God please take me now” and “help me!” I read the Bible, more than ever, in the hopes that the answer would lie there.
But, still, it hurt. I hurt. I felt like I should be able to just “shake it off.” I couldn’t. My sweet husband was seriously considering having me committed. He probably should have. But, I begged him not to. I was terrified that my children would be taken from me. I know now that probably wouldn’t have happened, but at the time, no one could convince me.
Every single day, I would wake up thinking, “Maybe today. Maybe today, God will end this pain. Maybe He will bring me home today.” Every night I would pray, “God, please don’t let me feel this way tomorrow.” For nine months, I simply wanted to die. Fear and despair were my constant companions. My children suffered. My marriage suffered. My friendships suffered. I tried to be normal (whatever that is), but I didn’t know how.
Why am I writing this now? I don’t know. I guess I hope it will help someone.
I learned a lot in my pit. The most important lesson? “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.…” Psalm 121:1a-2 NIV. I learned that, although God does send us people and we are made for relationship, we must look to Him first and foremost. I learned that pleasing Him and not people makes for a happier me. I learned that being who He made me to be, rather than trying to be perfect, is all He asks of me. I learned that He is our Healer. Our Provider. Our Deliverer. Our Everything, if only we’ll allow Him.
But. I was foolish. I was risking my life by not reaching out, not telling the therapist or doctor, not allowing my husband to find me some help, refusing to consider medication. Don’t do it the way I did. There is help available. Please seek it out. There is no shame in asking for help. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
On the flip side. If you know someone who is displaying symptoms of depression, love them. Call them, text them, send them cards. Pray for them and with them. Make sure they know they matter to you. Be available. Yes, even when it’s not convenient. Help them find the courage to ask for help. And don’t give up on them.
One more thing….don’t preach at them….they’ve heard it all before in their own head.
Be blessed and tell someone you love them.