"People call those imperfections, but no, that's the good stuff." - Sean Maguire, Good Will Hunting
Whenever I write about my depression I start with the story of my sophomore year of college during which I found myself at, what I had assumed would be, the lowest of the low. How I walked around my DC neighborhood smoking and then putting cigarettes out on my arm in the hope of actually feeling something, anything. Or the weekend that I disappeared to my newly leased apartment after a week of staring down the orange and blue lines of the metro thinking that I could just jump. If I jumped everything would be OK and it would be over. Ease was what I sought because death had to be far better than being in what seemed to be an insurmountable amount of pain. And despite having written about this struggle on numerous occasions I still find my heart thumping inside of my chest as I hit publish for what will others say or think about me? Will I be seen as broken and unworthy or will others acknowledge that this is a disease that will never go away and one that I will spend the rest of my life fighting?
I have had several major depressive episodes that have been fixed with talking or a bit more Lexapro. This is my life, which I have long accepted but it isn’t my everything. To speak out and write about mental illness is to write about any other thing that happens to be going on in my day to day living including what my cat is doing, the wine I’m enjoying, the dress I just purchased. It simply is. I present as an average and capable adult because I am, in fact, a boring typical adult who happens to struggle mightily at times.
Like many others who have depression hearing about the death of Robin Williams made everything ache. The ability to wrap my head around the death of someone so brilliant and beloved as he has everything to do with having been in that same deep, dark hole, crushed by a pain so unbearable that it is hard to breathe. For those who wonder how such a successful person could succumb to such a horrible illness it is because depression is a disease that does not discriminate. I know why he did what he did. I also know that but for the grace of God and therapy, I could easily be on that same treacherous path. Robin Williams’ death feels personal because it could easily be me or anyone else I know.
Thankfully depression isn’t a foe for me today but it could be tomorrow. For those seeking words of advice I can only say to be gentle. Reach out. Dole out kindness. For those suffering, well, obviously you are not alone and when you are ready to talk there are people waiting to hear you.