The Dark Side of Depression
Two years ago, I sat in front of a camera and told thousands of strangers that I suffer from depression. That I've had suicidal thoughts. That my sunny, shiny exterior is often a mask for the darkness below the surface.
The country was reeling from Robin Williams' death. But he was so funny. So full of life. Seemed so "happy." That such a person would take their own life was cognitive dissonance for those of us who thought we knew who he was. From his ACTING. From the roles he played, not much different than the roles those of us suffering from depression play in our own lives. The darkness is bleak enough to bear alone. We don't want to share it with others. To dampen their days or their spirits. The negative scripts on endless loop are maddening, so on those days we do have the energy and strength to leave the house and put on a brave face, we are careful not to let the madness touch or infect others.
Last week, I lost a friend to suicide. Someone we all knew as lively. The life of the party. A smile that lit up a room. An infectious laugh. Sunny. Positive. Generous. Always on the move.
Someone like that couldn't possible be depressed. Couldn't possibly be THAT distraught and alone.
But she was. And I am.
It's possible to be utterly and unconditionally loved and supported and still feel unloveable and alone. To be bright and engaging and sunny and full of life and still be haunted by darkness and demons and sadness and lethargy and despair. To project and be one hundred percent sincere in the former to cover up the latter. Until it becomes too much to bear. And then we withdraw and disappear. Sometimes forever.
I am lucky and grateful that I keep coming back to the light.
And am utterly heartbroken she couldn't.