I am mad at the social media peanut gallery. It has only been hours since the news of Robin Williams hit the airwaves, and I have already seen the word “coward” bandied about. More comments about willpower and addiction recovery. And so, so many comments about “snapping out of” depression.
“Snap out of it.” Like you’re in a sad because someone else ate the last cookie. These are words of someone who has never really seen depression. It isn’t sadness. It isn’t a brief tangle with the blues.
It is being haunted. It is an insidious, lying demon that whispers, whispers, whispers in your ear of all that is wrong with you, and with your world.
It is being possessed by a dark nightmare rising up in your soul to block out the light and eat the self that you were, that you are, when you are well.
It is being forced into a quiet Hell of leached color, slain joys and crippled thought. A place that distorts images of happiness into dark reminders of past and future failures. Where a bad moment is magnified into a crushing, suffocating everything.
It is madness. On good days, you might keep the madness at bay. Some shape the madness into art, or humor, or words. Others channel it through physical outlets, pushing themselves to their physical limits.
On good days you become a conduit for madness, instead of its vessel.
But some days the madness is too slippery. There are not enough words, there is not enough strength to beat it back. On those days the demons come and their whispers drown out the laughter of your children, silence the sound of praise and twist your belief in love.
Waking every day with that battle before you, knowing that there will be days that you lose, it not cowardly. It is strong. And it is brave. And it is exhausting.
It is endlessly pushing the boulder up the mountain like Sisyphus—a punishment for the demons’ deceit.
Saying “snap out of it,” or “get over it,” is an unnecessary slap. Telling someone with depression to get over it is like telling someone who is drowning to take a deep breath.
So it that is the best you can offer, here is my advise:
For those of you in the midst of a battle, remember that we all need help. No single warrior ever won a war. See your doctor, see a psychiatrist, and if you are in the darkest place, contact the suicide hotline.
For those of you that love someone fighting these demons, stay vigilant. Express your love out loud. And be sure that you, too, find ways to bring light into your own lives—when you live with darkness it is easy to close your own eyes.