Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Great Depression

We lost a comedic genius this week. He was a wee bit crazy, but a genius nonetheless. When I heard Robin Williams was dead, I was a little surprised, but not shocked. Looking back, if you were paying attention, you could see it coming a mile away.

I normally don’t get too emotional when a celebrity dies. I don’t know these people personally. They’re not part of my circle. Why should I care? But for some reason, Williams’ passing had an impact on me. When Jimmy Fallon got choked up on late night TV, I got choked up. When I read Billy Crystal’s two-word tweet to his friend, “No words”, I got a big lump in my throat. When I heard Williams was fighting depression and took his own life, I understood.

But this post isn’t about Robin Williams. If you want to read more about him, you can find plenty of articles bouncing around the web — each with a different spin and perspective, some with an obvious agenda.

No, this is a post about depression and what it looks, and feels, like. Because this week reminded me that now is as good a time as any to talk about it.

This is for those who don’t see depression for what it is — a disease. Those who choose to look at this illness as a weakness.

This is for those who think that depression is just another way to feel sorry for ourselves. An attention-grabbing ploy. The same brainy bunch that thinks they’re helping by providing brilliant advice like “snap out of it” or “stop being so sad.”

This is for the self-righteous saviors who feel the need to condemn those who take their own lives when they can’t take anymore. The bible thumpers who believe eternal damnation awaits those who couldn’t see any other way out.

My two-word tweet to all of them: "Wake up."

Depression is a deceiving little bastard. Much of the time, the funny ones are hurting the most.

It’s more than sadness. Everybody gets sad. Depression is a total loss of hope that runs all the way to your core. It drains the very life from you and knocks you to your knees.

Depression won’t let you get out of bed in the morning, even though it wakes you up at 4am every single day to remind you how much pain you’re in. Once you are up and forced to face the day, it fully immobilizes you, gluing you to the couch, for weeks.

Depression makes it excruciating to be around other people, because nothing is more painful than watching other people live pain free.

Depression is physical and mental agony. Nothing is fun. Nothing feels comfortable. Nothing ever feels right.

You forget to eat. And bathe. Depression makes you unrecognizable. Depression smells.

Depression is pitch black. A boarded up room with no windows. It works relentlessly to keep even the smallest sliver of light from getting in. It’s a liar that eats up all rational thought. It wants you to believe you’ll be stuck in here forever.

That’s what depression looks like.

But even though you might not think it after reading this post, it’s not all gloom and doom. There is a way out. And when you find it, you’re stronger, wiser and more resilient. You might be a touch angrier, but you’re a whole lot more aware. You know more because you are more. You were there, and you know you don’t ever want to go back.

But you have to want out. It takes time. And you can’t do it by yourself.


If you’re struggling — get help. It’s out there.
If you know somebody who’s struggling — get them some help.
And if you think you know it all because you read it in some fictional book — get a clue.

It certainly helps to know what to look for. But you won’t really know until you’ve been there. 
Here’s hoping you never are.

"Nanu, Nanu."


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