I'm ANGRY! Not lower case angry but upper case, bold, angry! Some of God's brightest, funniest of humans are giving up on life! Robin Williams had one of the shiniest, rawest, brightest of talents. Using these gifts he brightened up the world that we live in. So why am I angry? He didn't HAVE TO DIE! I realize that in stating this it sounds like I'm judging him. No, I'm speaking from an entirely selfish point of view. I want him to still be here on this planet with us.
I want to stand on a tall arch somewhere and have the capability to scream to the world, "DON'T KILL YOURSELF!" I am the survivor of a few things. The worst, the very soul shakiing worst was Clinical Depresion. I reached a point where the color had been sucked out of the world, leaving only gray...not even black and white. I couldn't even get out of my bed to go to the bathroom for hours and hours. Finally, desperate for that relief, I would force myself up...and walk step by grueling step into the bathroom. (It was about 6 or 7 feet away from my bed.)
I do NOT wish to display the hubris of saying that I understand what anyone else's personal voyage into Hell is like. I do know a few things...DEPRESSION LIES! It says, "The world would be better off without me. It also says, "I'M A BURDEN TO MY FAMILY AND EVERYONE THAT I KNOW."
I wish that my beloved nephew who killed himself at 28 could have first seen how desperately we all miss him. I wish he could have known how sad that he would be watching his wife and 1 year old daughter, from Heaven, struggle and fight to make their way through life WITHOUT HIM!
My nephew was brilliant, a genius. Perfection was not a goal, it was a driving need. How I wish that I could have said, "Honey, life is MESSY, but it's important!" I wish he had shared his desperation so that we, his family could have surrounded him with loving support as he battled back through the battlefield that is mental health challenge.
I want to give a perspective. I know anyone that reads my blog may be very, very tired of hearing me use myself and my sweetheart as examples. We were and are ever so far from perfect. I found my honey very inspirational, but he once said, "I would like to inspire somebody, not for my multiple health issues, but for my talents, and my abilities." I feel the same. I use our example because it is what I know, and feel comfortable sharing.
I was deathly ill as a child. I was born with almost no immune system, allergic to pretty much every substance on the planet. I literally heard doctors whisper around my bedside, "She's not going to live very long." When I thought of growing up, I had the traditional wish to be a Wife and Mommy. Actually my greatest wish was simply TO GROW UP!
As odd as it sounds I'm very grateful for the perspective that I gained as I lay in that bed fighting just to breathe. I learned how very, very precious life is, EVEN IN THE WORST OF CIRCUMSTANCE.
I once went to a production of "Spoon River Anthology." One quote has stayed with me for the some 30 years since then. The play is about people who have lived and died in a tiny town. They come out of their graves (Not Zombie's, come on who thought that?) and share a condensed life sketch. The one that has blessed my life ever since was a woman who gave birth to eight children, and worked beside her beloved husband on a rough farm that yielded more heart ache than plant life. To make things more complicated she was born with a heart defect. She faced death every time she gave birth, and many times just going about living. I'm paraphrasing this part. When my heart started tremoring so hard that I couldn't work in the field I would lie down on God's earth. I would feel the pulse of that earth beating into my heart. Soon I would feel stronger and able to help my husband. (Here comes my quote.) "Degenerate sons and daughters, LIVE IS TOO STRONG FOR YOU!"
When does life lose its worth? When we are deathly ill, when the worst in life has happened to us, (maybe what we PERCEIVE as the worst), does that completely remove the worth of life?
Nyle and I decided that we wanted a third child. He was very ill, bed bound at this point. A doctor saw on Nyle's chart that we were doing things to help us conceive. He said, "Mr. Smith, with your medical history and current list of medical struggles do you really think that you should be creating a child?"
Nyle became his strongest Lawyer self. He said, "Doctor are you saying that because of my health problems, MY LIFE HAS NO VALUE?"
The Doctor was quiet for a moment and then he said, "Mr. Smith I believe that I spoke incorrectly. I apologize."
When does life lose worth? When I was a desperately ill child, did my life have value? When I struggled just to breathe, was that experience worthless?
In my grayest days of depression I finally reached a point where I realized that it was up to me to find a way out of my gray. I did NOT kill myself. After my early life experience I realized that life is precious EVEN IN THE WORST OF SITUATIONS! I knew that my life had too much worth for suicide. I did private research with any and all things that I could access. I went to the doctor (she had been trying to convince me to use pharmaceuticals for four years). I finally went to her and humbly said, "HELP!" She did. She explained that the medication would take 4 to 6 weeks to take effect.
TWO DAYS LATER, I woke up to a whole new world. I looked across my room and saw a picture on the wall. It was so colorful, so bright. I thought, "I'm going to get up and wash my dishes." Then I thought, "Wait, what? I HATE washing dishes." Somehow the impossible to do seemed not only possible, but satisfying. I felt JOYOUS about my possibilities for the day.
My first thought was, "Wait is this medicine making me high? High to me refers to the drug induced mania that was prominent in the 1960s and 1970s. Then I realized, "No, I'M back!."
I felt like my soul fit in my skin again. I'm certain that most people thought I had lost my mind because I kept telling everyone, "I'm back. I feel like ME again." Mental health can strip away the essence of who you are. In fact it usually does.
Now I'm going to ask the million dollar question, "You have a debilitating illness or two, now top that dynamic with a layer of mental health issues. Of course you lose your interest in living! That does NOT mean however, that life has become less precious. Hang on with me in that thought for a moment. Can life be precious when you are faced with a seemingly endless parade of struggle?
Of course, this is an extremely personal decision. I don't wish to categorically say, "My way is right, yours is wrong!" I just wish with all of my heart to shed some light into very dark places. Life is ever so precious. From my childhood, just being able to breathe freely is a precious gift.
Please, please, please, before you make that all too permanent decision to end your life, try medication, visit a counselor, clergyperson, or find a support group. If you done all these steps and nothing has helped, do NOT give up. Sometimes it takes time to find answers. It took me four stubborn years to fight my way through the gray. Volunteer, volunteer....for special Olympics, a homeless shelter, a free clinic, on, on and on. It is virtually impossible to give to others without gaining benefit for yourself.
OK...my initial anger has dissipated. The problem is that like an ocean wave crashing on the beach as it has drawn away, it has left the debris of sorrow. Sorrow that I feel for the families left behind, for all those who face the emptiness of living without. When my husband was bedbound for almost three years he once said to me, "I'm just a drain on all of you my family. You would all be better without me."
I tried to be calm as I said, "Honey you are the heartbeat of our home, our family! I don't want you to suffer and be miserable, but just by BEING HERE, you bless all of us." It was no stretch of the imagination. He WAS a blessing always to his daughters and to me.
Please, oh please, our planet needs all of us! If you are fighting depression DON'T GIVE UP! REACH OUT INSTEAD! If someone you know or love is battling this crippling illness, REACH OUT! WE ALL NEED YOU!