I admit it, I've said the words tortured artist in a joking manner. Poking fun at the cliche of someone who's a creative that also suffers from depression or anxiety or a similar mental illness. I regret the time I said those things, because now I understand.
I'm not personally depressed, but I have gone through periods of depression, some serve enough to contemplate suicide. I've seriously thought my kids would be happier and my husband would be free if I just left this world. Obviously, I haven't acted on those thoughts, but it frightens me when I'm low enough to consider those things.
Time to talk about Robin Williams for a minute. Yes, his shocking death is the reason I'm compelled to sit down and write about the creative mind and mental illness. Robin Williams was talented, I'm not the only person who enjoyed his comedy. He gave characters life in a way few other actors have. As a writer, I appreciate that.
As a writer, I also understand how hard it can be.
When I was a kid, my parents constantly asked me if I was in la-la land. Like, at least once a day I'd get that comment from some adult figure. I didn't really understand what it meant at the time, but now I know I have a bigger imagination than most. It's easy for me to get lost in it.
My imagination is a gift. It's given a boost to my writing. Writing is a portion of my purpose in life. It's a piece of my identity. However, that imagination comes with distortions in how I view the world. Sometimes, without warning, I hate myself. Sometimes, in the most random situations I lose sight of my individual worth. I quite often feel as if no one cares about me and I have nothing to offer the world.
As hard as it is for me admit all of this, it's important that I do.
Back to Robin Williams and his talent. I wonder how many times he said the words I suck. I wonder how many times he told people he wasn't good enough. I wonder how many times he got that age old response, "I think you're great". I wonder if he ever complained, only have to people tell him he needed to suck it up. Because he's Robin Williams and people love him.
The thing about depression is that doesn't make sense. Someone who's depressed can have a wonderful life. Lots of friends, monetary success, stability is life situations. They can be Robin Williams and still struggle.
Please do me a favor. If someone is having a hard time, don't try to ignore them or change the subject. If they've been having a hard time for months and you feel like all they do is complain, still listen. That doesn't mean you have to feel sad with them. It means you have to empathize. Don't one up them with your own problems, just recognize where they're coming from, and support them. Even if it seems stupid.
One person trying to understand another person can make all the difference.
Depression isn't rational, but it is real. Hug your friends tighter today. Go out of your way to make sure the people around you know they're loved. It could change a life.