What rings true for me may be alien to you. Our experiences of life are very different. Portfolio of scenes, interlinked, overlaid. Fragments of memories, evolving contexts, friendships loved and lost. The ephemera we collect through life: photographs, clothing, books, records. Memories. More books. Our perspectives shift with age and experience. The things will never make us happy. Our legacy is built of more than brick.
Our memories of Robin Williams will be tinged with sadness: the outpourings of love and respect coloured by our inability to change the tracks of time. Of loss. Of loneliness.
For all the fame and wealth, to be consumed by your own demons: who can imagine the despair and desperation? Sometimes the barriers we put up prevent others reaching out to us, reaching in to us. We can’t be helped by words alone. For all their power to make us laugh, to make us smile, words too are ephemeral, swatted away by time and circumstance.
Depression is not being sad: depression is about being on a different island. Out of sight, away from other people.
Depression is being surrounded by a sea you cannot swim.
Depression is a perspective that you cannot alter, a frame you cannot shift.
Depression is about stigma and weakness: or maybe that’s what we fear. Who wants to shout about it? It makes me sad to even think about it.
I read once that there must be an evolutionary benefit to depression: the theory being that perhaps those people who experience it develop empathy. I think it’s true. You cannot swim for someone else, but maybe you can shine a light, show the way, even if the footsteps we take are always our own.
For me, depression was like slowly wading out to sea: past your ankles, your knees, your waist, your shoulders, up to your neck, and then the moment when your feet leave the sandy floor and you start to float. Just like that: gentle, but aimless. A lethargy. A loss of direction. Slowly, you become someone else, someone left behind, left outside. Alone on your island.
Redemption is a personal thing: for me, structure and time. Imposing a structure slowly allowed me to find perspective. A toe nudges the ground, your foot touches. You start to walk, pushing through the water. Slowly. Wading, splashing, emerging onto the beach. The cold of the water is just a memory: something that happened to someone else. Because you are someone else: the experiences of life change us, alter us. We learn through depression just as we learn through school.
Some people spend a lifetime wading through tumultuous seas between small islands of calm. Sometimes, they never make it ashore. Fame, money, friends, love: for some, it’s not enough. It’s too far away, to faint to see or hear.
For many, the journey back is slow but steady: depression can be contextual, triggered by loss or grief. We heal. We emerge. Changed, maybe stronger, maybe different.
Should i be ashamed to say i suffered from depression? Lest you think me weak? Lest you fear i’ll fall again? Does writing this expose part of me that i want to keep hidden? No: that was a previous life. The past that makes us into our present self.
And sharing is part of learning.