As it has for a lot us, the tragic loss of Robin Williams has caused me to reflect. I think what’s cutting us to the core on this one is not only that we lost him, but also how we lost him. It has me thinking a lot about my own struggles with depression over the years, and I wanted to open up a bit about it and share. I know I am one among many afflicted. For those out there, you should know that you’re not alone. I am no expert in a field of study, but I know what it’s been like for me. I will share based on my own experience. Feel free to share based on yours.
Depression doesn’t have to be reasonable, logical, or rational. From the outside perspective, it can appear to be unwarranted. That’s part of what makes it so difficult to understand at times. It’s like seeing people with the worst circumstances in the world, yet they display strength, courage, hope, and even joy. Then you have people who are comparatively blessed beyond measure… who are tormented within their own heart and mind. It doesn’t have to be real to anyone else to be a devastating reality to the one experiencing it.
My depression was something that my ex-wife had to deal with. I know that wasn’t easy. We didn’t live together before we were married, and it is one of those things that can be managed enough at times to keep it unknown… enough. I never intentionally hid it, but it wasn’t who I wanted to be, so when at all possible, it wasn’t who I was. After marriage, she would see my times of withdrawal, of unexplainable sadness, of feelings of hopelessness and unbearable weight. When I was at that point there was nothing she could do, despite her best efforts. It wasn’t because of her or about her, but it surely effected her. I know it broke her spirits as well and caused her to feel inadequate in the sense that… she couldn’t fix the way I felt. I’m not meaning to speak for her. These are just things I’ve realized in hindsight, but are still coming from my perspective.
God has opened my eyes to the extent that I have realized what, for me, had perpetuated my depression. For me, it had been the disappointment of being failed by my idols. I am speaking of idols in the Biblical sense. The things I looked to for hope. The things I made my salvation and my source that never could’ve been those things for me. It was my misplaced and misguided expectation and ways of seeking for redemption. When people or things would fail me, fail to be what they were never intended to be, I would become disillusioned. I would withdrawal. I would unravel. I did this in lots of ways at different stages throughout my life, often seeking ways to escape the things I could not face, the most recent case being in my ended marriage.
You see, she was that savior from a home environment I didn’t know how to escape. She was that love that I never thought I’d deserve. She was that hope for a future away from a life of hidden pain. She was my grace for a life I never thought I’d get to have… and that was wrong. That was all wrong. It wasn’t fair to her for me to expect her to be something that no one could ever live up to. It caused me to only see and create who I wanted her to be, instead of who she was. I was in love with a version of her I created in my mind, and I deprived her of being loved for who she was. When reality broke through, when I was let down by my idol for being human as she was, I came undone. I could not be all she looked for me to be, just as she could not be all that I looked for her to be. We are not Gods and we were never meant to be.
I have been to the edge. I have been to the brink. I have come closer to leaving this place than I care to elaborate on. I am still paying off debt for medical bills from a panic attack and break down trip to the ER… but, I am lucky. Not all are so lucky. I have such loving, such incredible people in my life that reached out and reached into my life. They wouldn’t let me fade. They wouldn’t allow me to disappear. They wanted more for me than I did… they wanted me to live, and not to simply exist, but to take hold of that life that is truly life. God is good. God alone is God. God alone will never leave, forsake, nor fail. It is unfair to everyone involved to place someone else on the throne. They will only be burdened to live up to unattainable expectations, and you are only destined for disappointment by seeking perfection from the imperfect. The people who’ve loved me out of the darkness I was in have afforded me the opportunity to learn these things, seek healing, and begin again.
When you’re in that place, you don’t have the strength to reach out. You can’t even find the energy to expend. So I beseech you all, if know someone struggling, withdrawing, spiraling… reach out to them. Pray for them. Don’t ever try to rationalize away what they are experiencing. Let God’s love flow through you to break into their lives, for it’s that very love that will save them. It’s that very love that brings the hope, strength, and purpose to step out and live again. I thank you for your time, and I open the door to you as well. Let’s not be silent. Let’s not isolate or hide away. Let’s call this what it is, and throw ourselves on grace. I love you all and God bless.