It's been a year since the passing of the wildly talented Robin Williams. In the spirit of supporting mental health, and shining a light on my experience of depression, I am posting something extremely private that I wrote about 2 years ago (somewhere around there?) This has been on back pages of my old site and only a few people have read it.
But it's important. Depression isn't talked enough about in this country. We don't really know what to do with it. It can be scary and misleading and confusing.
And it can look like, well, me (sometimes.) And my beautiful mother. It could be your best friend, or your neighbor, or the person standing next to you in line at the grocery store. And you have no idea.
If you, or anyone you know is now, was, or might be suffering. Talk. Be open. Open your heart and your arms and offer to just listen. Listen first. Then help. We need to stop being afraid of what our minds are chattering on about, the negative loops that cover us in black tar and try to pull us under. That's not where the real power lies. (Read my post about how I faced my Black Swan here.)
There is hope. There are tools. There are people like you, like us. And there is another way.
The sensitive and tenderhearted have a place and a voice and a special way of seeing the world. We are creative and connected and have so much to give. Believe it.
How I learned, who I learned from.
August 22, 1969: I was brought into this life by an amazing woman who didn’t feel she belonged to anyone.
Not her family. Not to any particular man. Completely disconnected for no reason she could grasp.
But she knew I belonged to her.
She did resonate with the wild spirit of a North Carolina Cherokee heritage that felt natural to her. She embraced her ancestors and the history she inherited. Only to find parts of her that wanted to conform to the means of the day. The clothes, the latest shoes, the sports car, the PERFECT man. Which only deepened feelings of comparison, jealously and unworthiness.
She married a young handsome man and had a daughter. But a greater feeling of joy for life, that was asking too much. The voices said Not for You.
Our relationship was golden when I was young. She could not have loved me more. She would write me into poetry about the purest love and patience and understanding. I didn’t get it. She said I was perfect. I really didn’t get that. I got her suffering. She was beautiful and smart and talented. And she had no idea. She bounced between wild swings of brimming creativity and stifling stillness.
Depression is a friend you never want to have and never want to leave. Your greatest defender and greatest foe. It’s the part that is the most eloquent, the most deliberate, the most convincing and the most deceitful.
I always knew, even as a child, how this story would end, just not how it would happen.
In May of 2006, she ended her life. And gave me the greatest gift a mother could give. Pure...complete...infinite...love.
It has taken me a WHILE to get to this point. After a lot of guilt, anger, depression, sadness. blah. blah. blah. And countless books, programs, retreats, self-help and self-hatred.
That no one ever saw or knew. (Except for dear, patient Scott.)
What she gave me is the ability to have an honest relationship with myself. I cannot escape me. And I know the Truth.
Is it a work in progress? Yes. And the work is fascinating and real and full of power. I am infinitely grateful to have had every experience, pain, breath, conversation, movement, whisper and joy.
My mother took her own life because she never felt she could truly live. She knew I had to learn, by her absence, how to make a great shift in consciousness. She knew I had big life in me. It was for me.
Out of guilt?
It’s just part of the plan. She is a part of my daily formatting. She makes up my daily language.
She put herself in a position where she could help me the most -- and it wasn’t in this life. She knew she would be a distraction to me. (Mmmm, I said that out loud). And it’s OK.
I am the only child of a mother that suffered from depression. And now knowing what I know about the Truth of the human spirit, I know that the change that could have occurred in her, had to come from her. And no one else.
I know this because of the profound shift in me. I wasn’t supposed to change her. The only change I can affect -- is change in me. I have no control over anyone else. It’s really very liberating.
A dear friend said the most precious thing to me right after her passing. He said, “You know her life was perfect. As it was. Changing nothing.”
Yes. It was all for my learning. And hers.
Still looking out for me. She definitely saw this coming.
I am left with profound gratitude, and grace...and love in my core.
A son with a sensitive, tender heart, who craves freedom and needs to be heard. My soul.
A daughter who is free ... and loves to dance. My heart.
We have a lot to teach. And learn.
What a gift.