Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Struggle

Can I be real tonight? I need to be. I need to visit a place that I've pushed away. One of those dark crevices in life that you try to forget.

With the death of Robin Williams, there have been some good discussions. He was an amazing, talented man, and his impact is obvious if you've logged on to the computer in the last twenty-four hours. He brought an insane amount of laughter to other people while he struggled with his own demons. There have been discussions of mental health and depression, and I'm glad to see those good discussions. But I have seen a few that disturb me. I've seen a few call him selfish or putting down people who are talking about him. I instantly know that those people have most likely never dealt with those demons of depression and mental illness. It's not selfish when everything in your head tells you that you are a burden.

The truth is, while I don't regularly struggle with depression, I KNOW exactly why people get to that point and why they don't reach out. I do.

In high school, I battled eating disorders for years. Eventually I wound up in a hospital. It was a daily struggle that consumed every thought I had. And there were several times that I was just tired. I was so tired of fighting the constant battle in my head. Everything made me tired, and several times in my life, I wanted to give in; to give up and say "I surrender". I wanted to surrender to those demons I battled in my head. But I didn't reach out for help. I saw the looks people gave me. Why would anyone help me?

I encountered depression again when my son died. I can tell you right now that the only things that kept me from surrendering to that place again were Audrey and the thought of seeing Barrett again. I knew Audrey needed her Mom and when I see Barrett again, I wanted him to be proud of me, not disappointed. I needed to live so he could live. But I exhausted myself fighting those demons once again and surrendering them to God daily. 

In both instances I was, and still am, judged harshly. The small town gossip got back to me. I heard who was whispering "She won't eat. She must be crazy"  or "She's still not over that? She's got problems". I heard your words. I felt their sting. I internalized the tears and pushed forward. No wonder people don't talk about it. Why would anyone reach out for help when it seems everyone around them discounts their pain?
The struggle is real. And to discount it because you've never experienced it only makes the problem worse. It confirms for the struggling that they need to internalize it.

I've seen countless posts today of "Reach out. Someone will help you". But, do you see why they don't? We make a big deal out of it in the wake of a tragedy, but then mental health goes right back to being a taboo topic in every church pew and beauty shop. When does it stop? How about today? Why not now?

Don't wait for someone who is struggling to reach out to you. Hold out your hand. Ask how they're doing. Learn the signs of depression.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
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