Let me just start by saying, I am terrified to share this. I’ve been thinking about writing it since I heard the news about Robin Williams’ suicide.
I have depression. And anxiety. About 3 years ago, I was hospitalized for it. Not for a suicide attempt, but because I had hit bottom, and I didn’t know how to get myself back up. I finished Freddy Stories while I was in the hospital. I worked on the cover in between drinking all the free juice I could get and going to group therapy.
Hearing Robin Williams’ story terrifies me, because right now, at this moment, through some great therapists and medication and mindfulness practice, I feel like I am in a pretty good place. But depression doesn’t just go away, it lurks around, waiting to crash your party. It sucks. The thought that, at 63, it could come crashing in at such full force, is incredibly frightening.
What I really want to say is, there is no way you will ever ever know what is going on inside another person’s head. If you know someone with depression, or if someone is just feeling sad and helpless and you want to help, remember that you can’t fix them. You probably will really really want to, you’ll want to wrap them in rainbows and protect them from their own brains, but you can’t. All you can do is listen, and maybe hold them for a little while. Let them know it’s okay to cry.
And the same goes for the way you treat yourself. One of the hardest things about depression and anxiety, for me at least, is the feeling that there is something wrong with you. The first time I went to therapy, I thought it was because I needed to be fixed, I needed to figure out what was wrong with me. But the more therapy I went to, the more I realized that it’s not about that. It’s about being okay with not being okay. It’s emotional acceptance. Everything gets so much worse when I’m giving myself shit for feeling shitty. That’s what landed me in the hospital, I think—I was fighting and fighting with myself until finally I couldn’t do it anymore. I got help. I got medication. The medication doesn’t make the feelings go away, but it makes them a little more manageable, because I am a sensitive artist type and sometimes feeling so much is freaking exhausting. Now I am mostly working on letting the feelings be there and not judging myself for having them.
So, yeah. Someday I want to write more in depth about my experience in the hospital, about the all the people I met, like the guy who made me a dream catcher. But I don’t feel completely ready for that yet. Going to the hospital was a first step. Writing this post is another step. Just being able to say that I have depression is a feat in itself. We are all humans: complicated and complex. The best thing we can do for each other is to make room for just that.
Rest in peace Mr. Williams. Thank you for all that you’ve given to the world.