I had a recurring dream over the last 8 years. I am trapped inside a room. I can hear my children playing and laughing outside. I can hear my mother calling my name. I can smell flowers and even feel what I think is the warmth of the sun under the door. But I can not get out. I yell, scream, cry and plead to be let out but nobody comes, nobody.
Whenever I wake up I have tears in my eyes and I am drowning in sweat. My head usually aches and I feel like I escaped death. I am never able to go back to sleep, so I usually end up writing or reading.
Last year after I suffered a terrible flare with my MS, I lost my eyesight in my right eye and my left side became partially paralyzed. I also found out that my breathing was being obstructed due to scar tissue on my lungs. I will never forget when I decided to give in. I watched my world go on around me and I felt as if they could go on without me. Life was becoming a battle that I truly felt I was losing. I would normally turn to God and meditate but I decided that I was no longer interested in those things. I had only one interest,....letting go.
In light of Robin Williams passing away, it alll came flooding back to me. I was so very depressed. I was so very alone. Even though I was surrounded by love, it was if I was watching it circulate around me but never let it reach me. I distanced myself from my friends and my family just thought I wasn't feeling well. They were so right. I cried everyday for at least 5 weeks. I hid in the bathroom. I closed my bedroom door. I didn't answer phone calls or door bells. I had decided to give up and I didn't want to be talked out of it or through it. I even prayed one day, "Lord just come and get me please."
As I write this and think back, I tear up because I can not believe I wanted to leave the most important people in my life. I had fought so hard to stay in the game up until then. Quite honestly I was just tired. I felt like I was one person fighting a war all alone. I knew that nobody would understand or empathize. So I just kept it to myself. I was in that locked room I had been dreaming about. I was suffocating right before my families eyes. I went to a Dr's appointment and she asked me was I depressed. I just burst out crying. It was as if she had opened the door to the room.
I did not take antidepressants. I just did not feel that was what I needed. But I did start exercising and walking outside and absorbing all the reasons my life mattered. I set up therapy sessions and I started being honest with myself and accepting my limitations. I knew my mother had been praying for me even though she didn't know, I knew she was keeping my name in God's ear. It is so important that we understand that depression is not taboo. It is not anything to be ashamed of. It is reality for so many and it is a killer. I spoke once briefly at an event about my battle. So many people approached me afterwards to tell me they could relate. My heart was full.
I am not a doctor I am a person that knows what it feels like to be locked away and smothered by the world, the pain , the illness, the confusion, the weakness, the unknowing that everyone deals with. I just struggled for awhile as many others do. We have to love one another and watch for the signs and remember that ANYONE can be touched by this. From my experience I can say I wasn't really hiding it but I wasn't sharing it either.
One thing that I strongly believe in is the spiritual connection that we have as human beings. That connection breaks all barriers of race and religion. That connection reminds us that a missing child could be ours or that a murdered woman could be someone we love. That connection is God's way for us to communicate without saying a word. Sometimes just watching someone or paying attention to the way they don't come around or get involved will set off an alarm that something may be wrong. There will be some people that say out loud, I am depressed! If that happens, let them know you are available to listen and support and keep them company. Encourage them to seek professional help. That is not always medication. Sometimes it's just talking it out.
We can not save everyone from this illness. I have lost family to suicide. The questions never go away and neither does the pain. But we can vow to love and watch after each other. Pay closer attention to the details of the lives the people we love are living. Stay connected. Be honest about what hurts and even more honest about who hurts you or makes you feel pain or guilt or sorrow, We have to give ourselves permission to confront the darkness that is trying to consume us. It is okay to be sad. It is normal to have bad days. But when that sadness becomes your LIFE, it's time to tell someone, anyone, I need help.
Don't fear what people will think about where you are trying to climb out of You are courageous. You are amazing. You are conscious of your situation and you want to feel better. In this world, the pressure to have more and be more is so powerful and so discouraging at times. People can become depressed just because they can not pay bills. It's not always illness or relationships or loss that make us sad. It is often just everyday life,
So I say to you all, my brothers and sisters, connected and bonded by the human condition. We must stop whispering about this illness that is killing the people we love. We must speak loudly and boldly in an effort to make sure depression is not swept under a rug or ignored. Robin Williams life was such a blessing to so many and his death was just as powerful because it left people shocked and in awe. There is no definite protection from this thing. Nobody is safe. But we are all capable of keeping watch and being honest and accepting those that may not be as powerful or strong minded as we think they are at a certain moment in their lives.
I pray I am never locked away again in that small silent room. That room where I hear my life going on but I can't participate. That room where I would rather curl up and succumb than fight my way out. That room That so many of us have spent time in or may be in right now. There is sunlight out there and you deserve to enjoy it. I am here if all you need is someone to say, You matter, we need you, you can do this."It's okay, come on out." That is the first step out of that dark room.
Love and Blessings
Rest in Peace Robin Williams