Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams, Depression and Me (maybe You)

Source: fanpop.com

Robin is dead. I really liked him as a comic, an actor and a person. Apparently it was a suicide. I knew he dealt with drug and alcohol issues. I suspected depression. This is tragic. He leaves behind loved ones. He will be missed. Depression is rough.

I have struggled with depression. I resisted help. “I can do this!” I was in denial. I medicated with drugs, alcohol and busyness. I pretended that I was not depressed or had “improved.” Culture bad-mouths and pushes aside depression. Families just want you to “get over it.”
You have cancer, let’s pray and get you the best help. Money is no object. One child abduction (by a relative,) let’s bubble-wrap the kids and plan every waking moment. Diabetic and need medication? Get it!

Depressed? It’s not real. It’s in your head. Cheer up. Besides, we cannot afford counseling (unless it is a REAL disease.) And don’t take medication for it. We are pharmacological Calvinists when it comes to depression.

Oh, and we who are depressed fight help just as much as anyone. To God, I said, “Why me?” and “Fix it!” My petitions were answered with silence. God knew I needed to answer that.
In my 30 years as a priest, many whom I serve go undiagnosed, un or under treated, and under-resourced. That included me.

I had long ago realized that I was not going to live to grow old with my wife or watch my children grow up or see grandchildren (and, now, a great grandchild,) if I did not give up self-medication with alcohol. Abuse of alcohol was a symptom of something inside me that I had left unaddressed. My abstinence helped some but, while I was not drinking, my mind was still in the same state.

I had things I did not want to explore but, with the help of an awesome counselor (I went through 3 before I found one I resonated with,) I realized some things about myself that needed to change. And I changed them. I was not a victim and it was not your fault. It was three steps forward and 2 back, mind you. But I started. I learned with help to accept who I truly was. I realized I was not going to please everyone and in fact, I was going to really piss off some who had their own expectations of me. And I set boundaries in my life. Healthy boundaries. Godly ones, I hope.

I am not going to attach some grand imperative as a postscript. But I do suggest you to get educated about depression, to encourage those who deal with it (directly or indirectly) and to help move the conversation into the open leaning on God more. I was too puny to deal with this on my own. I needed to repent and accept God’s gracious and unconditional love.