It has been a dreary day out my window and in my heart.
We have had cloudy and, at times, rainy skies today. Supposedly the heaviest downpours are yet to come overnight, but right now radar does not indicate that. We’ll see. It has been just icky enough to prevent outdoor activities, though. On top of that, it’s gnat season here again. Little buggars buzz around one’s ears, eyes and nose and have a habit of hanging around in tremendous swarms.
I admit I am grieving for Robin Williams today. I know that may sound silly but, as the saying goes, it is what it is.
Perhaps it was hearing about his struggle with depression and feeling sad that he was in such emotional and spiritual pain while providing us with so much joy and laughter.
Perhaps it is because I had been privy to a glimpse of the way he cared for strangers and shone a bit of light and joy in their lives when he could, that he was not the stereotypical self-centered celebrity and did not hold himself so high as to not share himself with others. (See yesterday’s blog post.) News articles have echoed similar situations as the one I talked about in my post yesterday.
In 2002, I was barely a year out of breast cancer treatment when my ex moved out of our home in Texas, ending 25 years of being together. Coming on the heels of breast cancer, the events of September 11 in our nation and other life stressors, the dissolution of my marriage caused me to enter into the darkest days of my life.
For about three months, I was functional, but my functionality was a sham. I worked as a home-based medical transcriptionist, so I did not have to go to an off-site office. I worked because I had bills to pay and had to feed my animals. Me? I barely ate and hardly slept. Going anywhere was a struggle for fear of breaking down in public. I found no joy or interest in anything. The fur of my dog and cats was frequently soaked with my tears. I never knew I was capable of heart-wrenching, body-wracking sobbing. Every day. More than once a day. Sitting on the floor of the bathroom with the lights off and door closed. I told everyone I was okay; however, having a medical background, I knew I was depressed. I recognized all the classical symptoms in myself. I kept telling myself, “You’ll get over it. Just tough your way through it.”
Ending up in my doctor’s office in November of that year with a respiratory infection, he asked me how things were going in general. Well, that did it. I lost it. After we talked a bit about all the life stressors I had experienced in less than 12 months and, knowing me and realizing I was definitely not my usual self, he diagnosed me with situational depression and civilian post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I walked out of his office with a prescription for a mild antidepressant.
Small-town doctors can be a true blessing.
Within a few weeks of starting the medication, I began to feel more like myself again and began to walk the path of healing. During that time of healing, I found my joy, my peace, my strength and my life again. I took the medication for just under a year.
Never once during those dark days did I consider suicide, even with my world having crashed down upon me, even not knowing what I supposed to do next, even not knowing how I could possibly be happy again.
Looking back, I realize now that it was a process I needed to go through to begin healing, to become an vessel, if you will, to fill with joy, peace, strength and – later – love once again. As the saying goes, it didn’t kill me; it made me stronger.
Perhaps what saddens me is knowing the intense overwhelming despair I felt and knowing that Robin – or anyone – could feel such absolute hopelessness to the point of taking their own life.
Today I am being gentle with myself, allowing myself to grieve for the man whose light here on Earth was extinguished sooner than we would have liked, who showered us with such laughter while battling his inner demons.
I hope his soul has found peace and rest at last.
I hope that out of his passing will come nonjudgmental, loving and supportive dialogues about depression. I hope that those who are suffering with depression and PTSD will reach out – or others will reach out to them – and realize that they are not alone.
Thanks for stopping by!