The fact that Robin Williams died by his own hand is as shocking to some as the fact that he died at all.
To those of us who slog through bouts of depression, it was shocking, but there was an underlying understanding. The fact that he was the guy that made us laugh so hard for so many years made it more tragic, I guess. But think about all the famous funny men and women who have died recently...overdoses of drugs, alcohol, life...what were they self-medicating against? Think about the person in the office...the funniest, or maybe the quietest...often - very often- humor is used as a light saber against the chilling darkness. Often a person is quiet because opening their mouth might unleash a torrent of their secrets...the Help Me's. Depression is one of the single most medicated diseases in the US, yet most sufferers hide their diagnosis under layers of humor, addictions or silence. I had a circle of acquaintances with cheerful blogs that posted Isn't My Life Amazing pictures and snippets of their supposed day-to-day. After digging deeper, I realized that it was a sugary tower they constructed and less a reflection of reality. I had to step out of the circle. It was just too difficult to embrace that unreal reality. And once outside, I saw quite a number of folks had done the same. I guess I'm off track, as usual.
My point in the beginning was headed here: we often don't know who is suffering, or how deep the slice goes. Knowing you are there for them, us, is good. But often not enough. No matter how deeply you care. Depression is a one-man show that cuts off everything but itself...no amount of love can conquer it, but any amount of love can help...no amount of talking can dissipate it, but any amount of conversation can deceive it. It comes when it wants, stays till it feels like leaving. You don't "wallow" in depression, it knocks you down and drags you to its lair. Sometimes humor helps...sometimes being the funny person guarantees you invites that will give you something to point at on your calendar and wait for. Sometimes humor excuses a lot. Sometimes it's like putting lipstick on a pig - hide the ugly under the candy coating. I guess I would say Be there for a depressed person. Don't expect to cheer them up. Just be there. My friend Kim has this amazing sound she makes " mmm mmmm " that's like chocolate chip cookies out of the oven. It's a comforting sound, but doesn't make you feel helpless and childlike. So be there. Grab a movie or some knitting and sit with the uglier parts of the person...the parts they are most afraid to show. Don't expect to save them from sadness, just be there. And I thank my people who have been there for me. And those of you reading this, I thank you for no judgement.