I found myself crying the other day as I watched a heartfelt tribute by Billy Crystal to the late Robin Williams. So, why was I sat there crying over the loss of someone I didn’t personally know and whose films and comedy shows I’d only really ever watched if they happened to be on the TV (it’s not like I was an out and out fan or anything)? I’ve spent the last few days pondering this and I think I have an answer of sorts…..
Perhaps, as human beings, we instinctively want to belong (not only for evolutionary safety purposes) because somewhere deep down inside our souls we all feel this longing to be connected. Indeed, it is MY belief that we ARE all connected on an energetic level (reiki has demonstrated that to me in abundance) but this doesn’t mean that one necessarily *feels* connected.
Understanding that we are all part of this *oneness* (for want of a better word) is vastly different from feeling like we actually ARE part of it. In fact, I know many people who do or have felt alone, isolated and disconnected (myself included at one point). Sometimes it seems that part of our very fabric as beings is this *ego* which demands that we be separate, individual and apart from others; this individualism, this need to compete, compare, judge, extol our own virtues, seems such an overwhelming driving force of human nature that it can be incredibly hard to keep the faith in this oneness.
But, there are some things that I feel are *universal connectors*….music and humour and therein lies the root of my sadness. Robin Williams was a giver of laughter who used his gifts to lead us towards oneness, even if it was for the briefest of moments during a show or a movie. His brand of comedy was unique, generally universally appealing and joyous like the joy of a child and we could all get on board with that…..we could put aside our differences to join in the laughter together in oneness.
Perhaps on a universal consciousness level we all sense that we have lost a great soul who was a well spring of unity….he gave us a taste and a glimpse of what it’s like to all be in the flow together? On a personal level, I also feel desperately sad that we lost him to depression and the lack of understanding with regard to this illness that still seems so pervasive in our society, so I wanted to write a bit about that too.
The word *depression* has been hijacked into everyday speak for *feeling a bit down*, but Depression with a capital *D* isn’t even in the same galaxy. From my own experience, it is a slow, creeping yet unrelenting slippage into despair, despondence, self loathing and valuelessness, where one’s world shrinks incrementally smaller each day until thoughts of suicide become a regular visitor to one’s mind. For those that might be thinking, *get a grip of yourself*, I can assure you that being a capable, relatively intelligent, articulate, organised, logic-brained human being makes no discernible difference….in fact, understanding that logically none of it makes any sense, expounds the torturous nature of the illness.
Personally, it has been a long while now since those terrible days and I consider myself extremely lucky because I had (still have should the need ever arise) people willing to be with me in the depths of my Depression despite me isolating myself. I also had access to counselling (a luxury not everyone can afford) and yet there were moments of such darkness that ending it seemed the only viable option. Thinking about suicide and acting upon those impulses is, of course, a very different thing but those thoughts, which for a non-sufferer would be few and very far between, can become a daily Russian roulette for a person suffering Depression.
Let’s not forget that this doesn’t just affect the sufferer but everyone around them and being around someone suffering from Depression can be incredibly frustrating because it taps into one’s own sense of helplessness. One might feel tempted to try to coax the sufferer to focus on the positives in their life, a sort of *look on the bright side* approach but this is, unfortunately, disastrously unhelpful and likely to cause further feelings of worthlessness for not being able to *look on the bright side*…another failing to add to the already long list. Personally, I found that someone just willing to sit with me helped…I might have been bobbing along lost at sea but having someone right there bobbing along next to me made a difference, I can’t quite articulate how but it did.
Truly I think the first step towards a better understanding of Depression is for those who don’t suffer from it to try to empathise and understand what it must feel like. The Huffington post ran an article earlier this year asking 50 sufferers to describe Depression for those who have never suffered it, here are a few of the responses that hit home for me personally:
- Depression is losing the desire to partake in life.
- Like mourning the death of someone you once loved–you. When you look in the mirror you see only dead eyes. There is no spark. No joy. No hope. You wonder how you will manage to exist another day.
- Depression is waking up wishing you’d died in your sleep.
Be kind to yourselves!