I imagine most of the western world has heard of the untimely passing of the great Robin Williams by now. It’s so sad and hard to believe that someone you grew up laughing with has now gone. He made us laugh, made us cry and now he has made us think.
Depression is a cruel disease, stripping away your joy, your love of anything and everything. Taking away your life. You tend to exist, not live when depression takes hold, everyday tasks become huge obstacles and if something unexpected should happen, something as small as a friend knocking on the door, it throws everything off kilter.
I spent 15 years on antidepressants. At some points in these years I was doing just fine and no one would know, at other points during this time I wouldn’t leave the house, answer the phone or socialise at all. Being alone and hiding from the world was my way of living with the black dog.
6 years ago things started to change for me, I became involved with helping new mums breastfeed their babies. Through this I started to see how I could make a difference, that I wasn’t worthless, that there was a purpose to everything.
I stayed on the tablets though, not ready yet to let go of that safety net, besides my life was about to go through some huge changes and I’m not sure how I would have coped. Slowly I started to live again, something that wasn’t actually welcomed by a few people. I started going out and doing things for me. Things that made me happy, like dancing, meeting friends, smiling again.
More life changes followed, including the breakdown of my marriage and moving 140 miles back to the south coast which has always been home. I was still taking the tablets, again I wasn’t ready to feel or deal with my emotions.
18 months ago I stopped taking the Prozac, don’t know why. I can’t think of an out and out reason for knowing I didn’t need them anymore. I just knew I didn’t want to feel numb, that I could now cope with my emotions, that I wanted to be me again.
I’ve not looked back, I love my life. I have an amazing family and the most wonderful friends that I could wish for. I’m meeting more and more fabulous people and seeing the beauty in everything.
Depression sucks. You can’t ‘snap out of it’ or ‘pull yourself together’ as gets suggested so many times. Some people are lucky, they can unchain the black dog and let him run far, far away and know he won’t come back. Others cannot. If someone you know reaches out to you and tells you how they are feeling, be there for them. Ask them what you can do and avoid the clichés.
RIP Robin Williams, thank you for the giggles.