A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

So easy to get lost

on August 12, 2014

Yesterday, the world lost Robin Williams. I am so heartbroken for his family and for all of us who have lost someone of such immense talent. He has been such a constant presence in my entertainment life, from Mork and Mindy re-runs when I was a child to listening to “Never had a friend like me” over and over in drill team practice for a half time dance show, to an adult appreciation of just how immense his talent is thanks to seeking out years of stand up, drama and comedy. I am in awe of the truly gifted, whether those gifts are in sports or science or the arts, and he was someone with such natural talent and hard earned skill and experience. And yet, like so many, his accomplishments and his adulation couldn’t protect him from mental illness.

So many of us have struggled with depression, with anxiety, with suicidal thoughts and a host of mental illnesses and yet we rarely discuss it because there is such a stigma in this country about mental health. My weight gain in my early twenties came during a time of depression and even knowing now that depression is medical, chemical illness, I can remember how weak I felt during that time for not being able to “fix” my depression. I didn’t ask for help for entirely too long because I had “no reason” to be depressed. I was successful by any definition and I was healthy. I had no great tragedies in my life – in truth, I’ve always had an incredibly blessed life. Despite all of that, I couldn’t find any joy in anything in my life. I was never hungry and yet could never stop eating. I couldn’t sleep at night but only wanted to sleep during the day. I wanted to avoid interacting with other people and I just felt so hopeless about absolutely everything. I can still remember the endless loop of thoughts that would circle my head. I am grateful I got through that period without any lasting physical harm other than the hundred pounds, truly, because so many people struggling with depression are not so fortunate. Even when I recognized that my symptoms added up to depression, I didn’t seek out help because I didn’t feel like I could ask for help. In my screwy mindset, I had no reason to be depressed, therefore I should have been able to fix it myself.

That is absolutely not true. In no way is that ever true. Ask for help. If you think a friend is struggling, reach out. Never assume that because someone seems to have certain parts of their “act” together that they aren’t struggling with neurotransmitters they have no control over.

We don't always know what a flower has had to push through in order to bloom.

We don’t always know what a flower has had to push through in order to bloom.

I look forward to the day I get to introduce Oliver to one of the world’s great talents, when he’s old enough to start to appreciate some of Robin Williams’ repertoire. We’ll also have the harder conversation when he gets older, about how anyone can struggle with mental illness and lose that fight in one horrible moment, and how important it is to help, not judge those in the struggle.

If you want more information about mental health issues and resources for research, patient outreach and support, check out the National Institute of Mental Health and SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

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8 responses to “So easy to get lost

  1. My heart just broke when I heard about this yesterday :0( He is definitely missed. I am praying for his family for strength and peace.

  2. Michelle Hoffman says:

    So well said, Jessica. Having been treated for depression myself for many years, seeking help is paramount in recovery and maintenance of any neurochemical, medical, and/or psychological mental health illness.

    Michelle Hoffman, MD Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • It is concerning how hard we make it for people to seek help in this country, both in terms of the logistical hoops you have to jump through to find a provider and insurance coverage, and in terms of overcoming the social stigma enough to speak up in the first place.

  3. leannenalani says:

    Nicely put. I am so sad by this loss. Asking for help is a good step. In addition, I think there needs to be more support for mental health problems or at least more awareness about resources like the ones you posted.

    • It is troubling how hard it can be for people to find the help they need. Resources are so limited and yet we find out more every day about how prevalent mental illness really is. There is such a huge need for more mental health care.

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