Monday, August 11, 2014

When depression wins.

I've written on depression more times than I can count yet I only recall briefly sharing about it once.  There is an incredible fear within me over discussing my depression, one that stops me from clicking “publish” and instead keeping the writing tucked away.  I imagine I am not alone in my fear of being open about the role depression plays in my life.

Today our world lost an incredible soul, the talented Robin Williams.  Sadly, I am positive that today the world lost many other incredible souls who’s names we may never know  to what may have been the same cause.  Initial reports indicate the death of Robin Williams to be suicide due to asphyxia .  While my Social Media feeds flood with respect and condolences, they also flood with confusion to some and understanding by others as to why.   Unfortunately, I fall on the side of understanding.

Two quotes keep catching my eye…

The 2nd brings me to my laptop tonight to write, to share, to pray that my words might help someone feel a little less alone in the struggles they face every day, more importantly to reach out for help that they may need.

The anxiety that is running through my veins right now over putting this out for the world is overshadowed by my need to help others.  It’s sometimes that desire to help that buries me too.  Life is tricky that way… you’re going to have to bear with me as I unravel this thread. While I always thought keeping this thread wound tightly and close to me was best, my heartache from this news tells me otherwise.

I never knew Robin Williams personally.  I never had the honor of meeting him or even seeing him perform live, yet I feel like I've lost a close friend.  Some people naturally have that impact on the world, he was certainly one.  In a way, I feel like I owe this to him… to you… because something has to change in our world.  My friend, Tim, may have said it best.

It's time, as a nation we stop the stigma and start the help.  It's time.  We've lost too many.  We've suppressed feelings way too long.  It's time we focus on helping those who need  it without consequence or judgement. 
Depression, in my life, is a tricky demon – one that I will likely forever battle.  I refused to acknowledge it for years.  Very, very few (ok, one – well, two) know the depth of it.  It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I realized the depth of it.

I am often described as “one of the happiest people” and it’s true – sometimes, I am.

I thrive on helping others.  I would lay down and cover a puddle with my body so you didn't have to walk through it if that was what it took to make your day better.  Helping people, bringing people together, listening, offering advice, getting people to a better place, motivating, attempting to inspire… those things fill my heart with such peace and contentment it’s hard for me to describe.  Part of me is exactly as happy as I appear - all the time.  I can’t help it.  I love, more than anything, making other people happy.  I am a giver by nature.  I tend to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders in attempts to make everyone happy and keep the peace.  Not exactly the face of depression… yet it is, exactly the face of depression.

Depression isn't always visible. It doesn't always stop us in our tracks or leave us in bed. There is a misconception as to what it looks like, the efforts people people take to mask it and get through each day.  Often we continue on fighting with all of our strength to continue to do good, help others… make people laugh.  The vast majority of people I know who openly struggle with depression are the people who are trying so hard to change our world and make it a better place.  Maybe it’s who we are, what we are born to do… and maybe it’s our glimmer of hope that if we can make the world a better place the demons we fight won’t survive the good we have created.

I don’t know.  I only know I have to keep trying.

Years ago I was shocked to learn from my dear friend, Dan who I've worked with many comedy club fundraisers on, that many comedians struggle with depression.  It didn't make sense to me.  How could people who are clearly so talented and bring so much laughter to others be so sad? The realization was eventually clear; they can the same way I do. 

It’s a difficult burden to carry inside especially when you live your life in a public way.  There are high set expectations – even for me.  I’ll always be here, I’ll always have an answer, I’ll always make time for you… and I do.  I do because I don’t ever want anyone to feel alone.  I know how that feels, I don’t wish it upon anyone and I do all I can to make other’s lives better. I also need that for me. I need to be able to help you as a way to help me. We all need to be needed.

I think that is one of the many common misconceptions with depression that you will know by looking at us or talking to us that we are struggling.  The truth is, that’s not likely.  We live behind guarded walls, letting few in and even fewer really inside the protective compound we have created. To the rest of the world, we are just fine.  We get up, go to work and sometimes even make the world a brighter place.  We do that with our demons tucked inside.  We spend so much time caring for others we forget how to let others care for us.  We also fear the judgment and consequences of sharing our struggles.

When I hit my lowest, I reached out to my best friend who encouraged shoved me into seeing a doctor. It took 2 before I began to open up and find a professional I trusted.  Even at my lowest, I knew there had to be a line to my weakness. My children are the reason I breathe every single day.  They are the reason I smile, the reason I laugh, the reason I fight for this world to be a better place.  They are my everything.  They are the reason I have a line, the reason I will always be right here, in person. I owe the 3 of them (my children and my BFF) everything I have as a Thank you for never giving up on me and always being there, I am forever grateful for them and I do my best to tell them daily the importance they have in my life.

I was asked early on  “Would you ever hurt yourself?”  Well, no.  Of course I would never hurt myself.  I don’t like pain, I see it as pointless, no… I’m not going to hurt myself.  I also knew that wasn't what they were asking.  It was the answer I knew I needed them to hear. 

During a later visit I said, “In all honesty, the answer is no.  I would not hurt myself.  That said, I don’t see suicide as hurting myself.  It’s in it’s own category.”  I will never forget the look on my doctor’s face.  It was the moment they realized what only my BFF knew.

Have I thought of suicide?  Yes.  I have thought of every single reason it seems as though it is the most logical answer to every problem I face, to every demon that haunts me, to every moment (and there are many of them) I feel as though I only fail. I know how it feels to sink, to feel as though I'll never surface and to gasp for each breath.  I know.

For me, it’s only a thought that will forever be outweighed and dimmed by the 2 loves I tuck in and kiss goodnight each night.  To the ones I brought into this world to love and protect – to my BFF, my parents, my family, my friends...  they complete me in an unexplained way.  

I've seen what suicide does to those left behind, I would never do that to them. I could never do that to them.  Instead, I fight the demons inside of me. I have learned, thanks to my BFF and amazing team, to reach out for help when I start to sink and just as importantly, recognize when I am sinking.

I limit who I am close to and who I trust.  I am careful to surround myself with people who have incredible strength and positive outlook.  Their energy helps the positive thoughts in my mind flow when the tears want to fall.  More importantly, they believe in me.  I need that too. 

Depression is dangerous, it needs to be recognized, treated and understood.  People need to see they can be both depressed and amazingly good at the same time. Then they need to tip the scale so the amazingly good outweighs the depression. It's often hard to do that without help and support.
I can be extremely good at what I do, both professionally and as a mom, love my life and still be stuck with this demon trapped inside of me.  Some of the most amazing, help anyone, positive people I know… are also struggling to fight the demon of depression that lives within each of them. 

I would like to believe that I am one that is winning the struggle but,  (which is why I am writing tonight), some days it’s a vicious tug of war and it takes my entire team that anchors me to not only win but to get out of bed and start new the next day.

It’s not something you choose.  Depression isn't a choice.  It’s not something you “just get over” and move on from, it’s a draining part of your daily existence.   I cannot even begin to express the importance of reaching out for help.  I understand the fear in doing so.  I do.  I also understand the difference having someone to talk to, the right medications and a clear path makes in silencing the demons so you can not only function but thrive.

You’re not alone.  Please understand you are not alone and there is someone there who can help you. Your work, my work, our time here... it's not done.  We have so much more wonderful, positive things to accomplish... and we will.  We can do this.

If you are not struggling, if you do not understand those who do... please - stop and think of the people in your life.  Do they realize their importance?  Their value?  Do you?  The next moment is never guaranteed. Make that phone call, send that text or email and let those in your life know how important they are to you. Send flowers, stop by unannounced, make time for lunch, a walk together or a late night phone call.   Never stop telling them those you love how much they are loved and the importance of who they are.  You never know when it will be the one thing that made all of the difference in the world… and you may be surprised with who really needs to hear it.

If you or someone you know needs help, 

please call the National Suicide Prevention 

Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

RIP Robin Williams.  Thank you for the gift you were to us.  May you find peace, laughter and be comforted in a way you longed for. May you find peace. My thoughts and prayers are with your family, friends and our world as we find our place without you here in our lives and appreciate the memories forever captured for us to hold onto.


  1. I feel for your struggle,and as much as miss Robin Williams talent and charm am glad He's finally at peace. As for Me I am almost 50, had found some relief frm meds in the last few years but not wothout akready having let depression ruin past relationships, walk away from the only son I've had , jobless, alone and completely lost.keep fighting the fight, passing the word around as I don't think I can go on.May the World find it's way and understanding for those Who never found it.

    1. Hi Ivan,
      I believe everything happens for a reason, this is no exception. I rarely check the comments on my blog but did just now and read yours. Please know that even when you feel it - and trust me - I've felt it too - you are never alone.
      Please, PLEASE, do me a favor and reach out please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) . They can help you. They've helped thousands of others and can help you too.
      I know it's not easy to walk in your shoes or to make that call but I know what a difference it can make and that our world needs you.
      We can only make a difference and help create understanding by being here. Please reach out immediately and talk to someone on the hotline. They are listening and ready for your call.
      Please follow up with me here and let me know you are ok.
      I will keep you in our thoughts and prayers. I know you are stronger than you feel at this moment.
      Please reach out for support so you CAN keep going on. You will do great things for our world, making a positive difference... I know you will!