Monday, August 11, 2014

Walking the Black Dog.

I've been wanting to write about this for awhile but stalled out. (Y'all writers know what I mean.) Now with the news of Robin Williams's apparent suicide at the forefront, I think it's important to talk about.

I have chronic depression. I've fought with it as long as I can remember. I finally got help when I was 35, after suffering at least all my adult life. It was just my normal. I'd feel like crap for awhile, and it would go away. Then it would come back and go away again. This went on for years until one day, it didn't go away anymore.

These days, I am mostly good, but having a chronic condition, I live in the shadow of knowing it could pop up at any time, and it does. Thanks to some great counselors, an understanding husband, sympathetic friends, and better living through chemistry, I know what to do to take care of myself, and I just power on through the best I can. Some days, though, the maintenance can be a real bitch. It gets tiring. I start feeling guilty because I want to retreat. I don't want to be "on," but I feel like I'm cheating people if I don't deliver the smiling, laughing, snarking Kim they all expect.

And that's just from an everyday person's point of view. I can't imagine the pressure of being a world-class comedian and actor in the public eye. People always want you to be funny. They want you to be "on." In the entertainment business, if you're not "on," you're not getting paid. Heaven forbid you have a bad day and decline to stop for a photo or an autograph.

The thing about depression is, it LIES. It tells you you're stupid and you'll never amount to anything. It tells you you're an impostor. It tells you you don't have any friends, that people are only being nice to you because they feel sorry for you. It tells you the world would be a better place without you mucking up everyone else's existence. On a good day, it's pretty easy to ignore the lies. On a bad day . . . well, shutting up those lies can be exhausting, and maybe you start to believe them, just a little bit.

Personally, I have never seriously wanted to take my own life. For one thing, it's way too much like work; for another, I know how I've felt when friends committed suicide, and I don't want to be responsible for making anyone feel that way, ever. (I'm still royally pissed off at a friend who killed himself years ago. If there is another side, and I see him, he and I are going to have some serious words.) But I understand all too well where those feelings come from. No, it isn't logical, but neither is depression, because - remember? - it LIES.

About one in five people will experience a mental illness at some point. If you, or someone you know, might be depressed, please get help. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200, just call somebody. Mental Health America is a nationwide resource network that can put you in touch with the services you need. If you're considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. There are people out there who will help you. You don't have to suffer.

Till next time, hug someone you love.

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