Love, Forgiveness, Compassion, Pain, Non-judgement, Understanding;
these are the emotions I experienced when I heard of Robin Williams passing. I’m writing from the perspective of a mother who spent 4 years helping her son battle treatment resistant clinical depression.
Depression is a complex dis-ease. It requires a multi-factorial approach to treat. Beliefs must be altered and medications to reset the brains chemistry must be found. We all know how hard it is to change a belief and finding the right medication can be a nightmare. It takes 6 weeks or more before a medication begins to work…or not! and multiple medications may be tested before the ‘best’ one is found. (Notice I wrote ‘best’ one, and not perfect one.)
Going for a walk, watching a funny movie or finding the slivers of light at the end of the tunnel are coping mechanisms for the (clinically) non-depressed. When you are fighting depression, going for a walk is about as doable as flying to the moon. I watched my vibrant, funny son fade away from me after he hit puberty. When things were at their worst he slept 20 hours a day, wouldn’t eat, shower, or shave. He told me his heart hurt…and that broke mine.
When we (finally) successfully navigated a system sorely equipped to deal with teen depression, another reality surfaced. Depressed people are more likely to take their lives when they begin to feel better. That is when they have the energy to carry out the suicide.
We were lucky. We found the medication required to reset his brains chemistry….after much trial and error. He also adopted mechanisms to allow for healthier thinking and beliefs. With the understanding of an amazing school and some selfless teachers, he graduated high school. He begins his last year of University next month.
I am fortunate. I have not had to struggle with clinical depression. But I have seen what an epic battle it is. Should someone get to the point where there is no fight left in them, who are we to judge something we have no first hand experience of? Ultimately, we can only own or control what it ours to own.
“I must first know myself, as the Delphian inscription says; to be curious about that which is not my concern, while I am still in ignorance of my own self would be ridiculous.”
Love, Forgiveness, Compassion, Pain, Non-judgement, Understanding…this is what I felt for my son and what I also feel for Robin Williams, and others who struggle with depression. I don’t know myself well enough that I can afford to have concern or judgement around the choices of another. Let’s hope I never have that level of self-awareness.
Take Care of you and you’ll have what it takes to care for those you love,