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12 August 2014

Depression. Mental Health. The fear.

Depression. Mental Health. Today's buzzwords. Often misused. Frequently misunderstood. Ignored. Mocked. Brushed aside.

Yet today, because of the sad loss of Robin Williams, those words are plastered every where. Once again for a short time people will talk about depression. Get on the band wagon for mental health awareness. Advocate for it. And the outspoken will be heard.

But what about her? Or him? What about the ones without a public voice? What about the ones whose cries will never be heard? The ones whose inner turmoil is so great they often can barely breathe. The ones who don't have an advocate. Who don't know where to turn…how to get help. The ones that feel as if there is no one. The ones being swallowed up. What about them?

What about me?

I laughed to myself last week as I picked up my medication. My antidepressants. My protection drugs. Three dollars and fifty cents. $3.50. Life saving. Life changing. Three hundred and fifty pennies. Yet, it is infinitely more important than the quad grande americano I purchase after I leave the pharmacy. But really. $3.50. Is it really medicine? Is someone playing a trick on me. This tiny little fraction of a cent pill that controls the wild dark beast of depression that lurks inside. Seems "crazy".
Yet each day…at 9am…for the last two years my phone reminds me to "take my medicine". I dare not forget. I've been there…I don't want to go back. Ever. But what if?
If someone like Robin Williams…someone with every avenue of help available to him. With no worries of expense. With rehab and counseling at the ready. If someone like him can be swallowed by the beast of depression. Defenseless. Helpless. Incapable of fighting. If him…what about me…or him…or her?

So today I find myself stuck in my head. Thoughts spinning. Heart racing. I panic…human. Then I don't…faith. Maybe this is why I continue to tattoo myself with messages of hope…reassurance…guidance. Verses that point out my path, seeking God's direction. Maybe.

I know me. I won't publicly cry out for help or seek attention for myself when I'm sinking. I look up. I trust my faith. My relationship. My God.
But what about the others? What about Robin?

Living with mental illness is a dance. A lifelong dance. I will forever be peeking around corners of my mind. Because the beast lurks in dark corners. Ready to pounce. Seeking weakness. Exhaustion. Disappointment. Fear. It feeds on those emotions.

I am not given cause to write this because Robin Williams was my favorite actor. I loved him as many loved him. The very thought of him causes me to smile. It is the tragic fact that he was overcome by the darkness. He could no longer fight. The pit swallowed him up and he gave in to the sinking. He wasn't weak. The siren of depression is so strong. He wasn't incapable…but the weight of the world is just too much to bear on your own. I know this. And my heart hurts. For the ones he left behind.

Again. I'm terrified.

Earlier this month a dear friend lost her father in a similar inner turmoil. A man I remember for his smile…his wit…his compassion. A man who would speak about art and his whole being came alive. But when pain is too much. When life seems too hard. The voices….

I can generally feel the icy fingers of depression when they begin to emerge. First they grab your hand. They comfort you as you feel sorry for yourself. But somewhere the deception creeps in. The cold fingers tighten their grasp, they fog your vision, the cloud your thoughts. They no longer grab your hand, but clasp your throat, press against your chest, cover your eyes. 

Evil. A beast. Uncontrollable.

Depression is real. Mental illness is not our fault.

In light of the loss of a brilliant, funny, joyful human being I shudder with fear. Then I look at my tattoos…
Who do I belong to?
Who holds my hand in the darkest pit?
Who directs MY paths?
Grounded. Stable. Strong. Not. My. Own.
And for now…I wander in the kitchen and pull out my tiny-fraction-of-a-cent-pill. Lift. Drink. Swallow. My routine. I am okay. Protected. Today.

29 comments:

  1. This is well said. Thank you. I'm always surprised when people look at me when I share that I am bipolar 2 (which, yes, is different from bipolar 1) and so many of them say, "No, you're not." Or "It will pass." Or worst of all, "I choose to be happy. It's all in your outlook." Because it's not. And few of us would ever reach out because many times our depression includes the knowledge (it's beyond a feeling) that we are not worth saving.

    So thank you for sharing and for continuing to bring attention to this disease. You've done it beautifully.

    And I have alarms on my clock to remind me to take my medication too. :)

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    1. Thank you for saying what I know. I am also Bipolar 2, waiting for my next episode, if for some reason the medicine doesn't work.

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  2. This blog post is amazing. Thank you for sharing this and being so honest. I feel the same, but I fear if I even utter the words... I will give it power.

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    1. never fear. uttering the words makes YOU powerful!!!

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  3. Beautiful post..just like you! {Hugs}

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  4. Thank you so much for this testimony. You are amazing,

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    1. thank you for reading. He is amazing…i just get to serve :)

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  5. Lisa, thank you so much for writing this. So many times I cry because of a recent loss of a very close family member. I feel the darkness. I feel the panic. I feel lost. I do take medication but somedays the darkness is blacker than anything I have ever felt or seen.

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    1. i understand. but when the darkness gets too black…please reach out. find someone to help you through! you are stronger than you think!

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  6. I can very much relate. Thankful that my $3.50 medicine is enough to keep the lurking shadows away most of the time.

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    1. for $3.50…i might start doubling up for the worst of days! xoxox

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  7. Lisa, beautiful post, and thank you for sharing. I think I've told you that I battled a year-long bout with depression in the year of 1999-2000. It was a dark and dreary time, but never once did I lose my grip on God's hand. I'm so thankful for His amazing faithfulness. His Word was my shield, His voice my comfort, His presence my strength. I don't know how people go through depression without that higher power to hold them up. I couldn't have. Looking back, I recall times (at my darkest) when I'd be driving down a highway and thinking, I could just swerve into that oncoming semi because truck drivers rarely ever die. CAN YOU IMAGINE MY THINKING THAT?

    I don't need an alarm to remind me to take my little yellow pill. It's part of my nightly routine. Like brushing teeth, slipping into my pjs, reading my Bible, kissing my hubby - I take my pill. It's a habit, and a good one. It isn't my salvation. God is that. But it is my safeguard against ever letting that BEAST come back into my mind to wreak havoc. When it creeps a little closer (as it tends to do when I'm over-worked, under-rested, and just plain out-of-sorts) I remind myself of all the tools I have at my fingertips, things I've learned for warding it off and chasing it down, my number one tool being diving into the Word of God and soaking up His promises for strength, courage, and healing.

    Depression can hit anyone at any time, and it can knock people right off their feet. No one's immune. So glad for all I've learned in the process of depression, and it breaks my heart to hear about people succumbing to its evil clutches. If only more could know of God's grace and healing power - and also His presence. If only they could know they're not alone.

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    1. thank you for reading. we have One who knows our struggles and our fears. such a beautiful thing!

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  8. Thank you for opening your heart and being so honest. May you always be protected from the beast thanks to the tiny-fraction-of-a-cent pills. xo

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  9. I've shelled out as much as $750 a month when I didn't have insurance, because I know I won't stay alive without it.

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    1. and i'm lucky right now that it IS so cheap. but it would be worth the $750 too. at least we have tools!

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  10. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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  11. Such a great post and one that I can certainly relate to. I just refilled my prescription this morning and thought...."wow, I wonder how many times I have refilled that script?" Well into the 100's.... I thank God for the inner balance that is "almost" the result of taking those pills. It is an illness...serotonin levels etc etc.... I hope the conversation continues and the people realize that depression is a real illness. Not just a moodiness that is changed by popping "pills," I read this week an online rant from a friend.....she commented on how mad she was at Robin Williams..that his pain was over but his family's had just begun. I cannot agree. No one knows how one gets to the point where one can actually rig their own death trap and then do what is necessary to cut off life. That is a place I have never been, thank God. Robin Williams was there. No one will ever know how he came to terms with putting in motion his "death machine." Only the illness can motivate that action and only the dead can tell us what happens in those moments of their deepest pain.

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    1. exactly. he wasn't selfish. he wasn't trying to hurt anyone else. he just couldn't see through the darkness. we need to make people aware. and never ever be embarrassed. it is not our fault.

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  12. I understand what it's like to be depressed, paralyzed, unable to see the light from the depth of the hole I fall into, I claw my way back, but I know it will happen again. I take my meds, but my life hasn't been my own for years. My father is very ill, injured by careless construction workers and, he too, has Parkinson's Disease and he has basically disappeared.
    I love you, Lisa, because you have always been upfront about your bouts with depression and how you continue your fight, inform people "you're not alone and there is no shame". You're my hero.
    My thoughts when I first heard about Robin Williams, my heart broke. What would drive such a lovely human being to take his life. What astounded me was the first concern came from "his assistant". I'm not condemning anyone, honestly, but he must have felt so alone, I understand that myself and then the news came about Parkinson's Disease. Depression, fear of what could be coming and that one moment, that tiny portion of time, and he made his decision. I hope an angel was with him.
    You are an angel to all of us who understand and hopefully, help others to understand as well.
    Fight on, I can no longer pray, but I keep hoping "tomorrow, please let me come out of the dark".
    You are my light, my hero, and I hope everyone who replied, just read, found hope from your words, are comforted, comfort others and we all move forward together.
    Bless you, Robin, may you be at peace, and I hope your children remember a wonderful father and wrap their arms and love around the family. Hold your heads high, a good man loved you. How very, very lucky he was in your lives.
    Thank you, Lisa, you are amazing, honest and our guardian angel.

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    1. thank you sweet friend. so grateful for you.
      they will remember. and i pray they will understand…he did not intend to hurt or abandon them. at all. the memories of the good days will be a sweet thought in their minds to guide them through the pain of loss.

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  13. It is amazing to me that when people find out that I have suffered with depression for years they think it's "no big deal" or I just need to "shake it off". They don't realize the depths that depression can go. The remarks are usually callous, flippant and hurtful. Mr. WIlliams death just brought it back into perspective for a moment. My question is this, if everyone knew he suffered like this, why didn't they help?? Thank you for your post!

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    1. they don't get it. we just need to keep bringing awareness. keep showing them what the truth really is. and never ever be afraid of admitting it and understanding it is not our fault.

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Otherwise, feel free to email ME! hello@StudioJewel.com

xo, lisa