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How we smile through Depression and other lessons from Robin Williams.

The sad sad news about the suicide of Robin Williams this morning has brought the conversation about mental health back into main stream media. It saddens me that I have to say “brought back” because it should never leave.
This day in age we are inundated with new tragedy and pain, every minute it seems. There are some who have attempted to create perspective by reminding us about Gaza and the atrocities being perpetrated by ISIS right now. Unfortunately we have to take in them all, and we should care about them all. It hurts, it’s hard but it is our reality.
Many of us have been baffled how such a man of laughter can be brought so low by Depression. It is a lesson, laughter, humour and comedy does not happiness equal. It’s a solid reminder that any body, the funny man on the desk next to you at work, the musician with talent and cash in spades, the friend who only calls you to go out and get trashed, your best friend or lover who you know so so well, can be sick and sad on the inside. Never ever neglect the ones you love. (Please don’t read that as believing Robin Williams loved ones were neglectful, it’s merely a reminder.)
All depressives do it, we smile over the pain, we laugh despite the falseness of it, we attempt every single day, until one day… We fail.
Most of us living cannot fathom the pain any one who has gone that far has felt. But to anybody who is sad, who is not sure how to take those next steps, smile those fake smiles of survival or reach out to ask for help, don’t let yourself get there.
Ask for help, carry on, be strong, find a reason to be alive.
You never know how the world will react.

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My Story

Dealing with the Knocks | “That’s why it’s called Practice”

You know what it’s like, you’re on your way and you think, this is going okay. There seems to be a plan, there seems to be a path. Then, WALLOP! Something knocks you completely sideways and off this comfortable cozy path you are pushed, only to think … why? Why was I walking that path in the first place, couldn’t someone have warned me that this wasn’t the right path! I wouldn’t have wasted so much time, energy and emotion on focusing so hard on following it. What was the point?

It is difficult to remain positive at times like this. It wasn’t a hard enough knock to send me reeling back in time to the deeper depression, and I haven’t even considered going back onto my medication. However, it was enough that I spent two days feeling melancholy, feeling pointless, useless and aimless. Where in the hell was I going? Eight months ago I went completely off the rails and I undertook a complete overhaul of my life. Now, I suppose I am expecting to start getting back onto the rails. How dare the universe pop me on the wrong track! I trusted it to work with me to get onto the right track! What was it thinking!

This could take me down some existential cosmic rant about the human direction versus the path of fate. I don’t want to rant, but I do have a couple of questions to put to the universe. How do we know whether we’re doing the right thing? Should we be more tuned to “signs”? Should I just continue planting all these seeds, water them all and see which flowers into the greatest possibility? Are you even listening?

I haven’t read The Secret but I know the general basis, it’s not alone in giving the general message of work for it, imagine it, ask for it and you shall receive. But I’m a bit cynical about this too. What if I am asking and working, and working and asking and the Universe is just up there like “nah, you’re good where you are.” So I need to spend time here and learn more, so then what? Look out for some sign that the Universe is “nah’ing” me and telling me to learn a bit first. What if I have missed that sign and I’m still asking for something that I’m not ready for? What if, even more importantly I’m damn sick of where I am at the moment, what if I feel like I need that something soon or I’m just going to feel hopelessly disillusioned and lost? Oops, look I went on a rant.

This has been my frustration the last few weeks. I was attending interviews for what seemed to be, not just my dream job, but the fresh start I felt I desperately needed. The universe had other ideas, I didn’t get the job. Following a knock like that my first reaction is, well Amanda you obviously didn’t work hard enough, there was something that you didn’t do. I pick apart every interaction, every piece of written word. I find it difficult to accept that someone was just a better fit than me. No…. that can’t be, I wanted to fit so I could make myself fit so then I will be the perfect fit. Then, my inner Princess starts to stamp her feet and yell “But I want it!!” That’s when I start getting frustrated and I find it difficult to keep my cool.

I have to reign in my inner dialogue at these points and move it towards more positive thoughts. I’ve never viewed myself as a negative person, if anything I tend to be quite passive erring on positive. However, it seems that as soon as I am criticized, knocked back or denied I turn into some negative Queen Bitch and I don’t even recognise myself. Admitting this is a weakness has been such a huge journey, one that I will forever be on. I don’t want to dwell any further on the actions, symptoms or thoughts of Queen Bitch, let’s just say she takes a lot of talking to to calm down.

So, what does all of this have to do with my recent depression? How does this help anyone else or help me in sharing it? It’s merely a reminder that despite what we go through, our best intentions or how we portray ourselves to other people, we are DEFINITELY not perfect. None of us. I think that part of why I became so ill was striving too hard for an idea of perfect that was completely unobtainable. In my mind I had it completely in my power to achieve my ideal life and I was failing. The perfection which I felt was merely a matter of dedication, desire and dollars was within my reach and the only thing ever holding me back was myself. Viewing yourself as an obstacle to your own happiness can only take you down bad roads, you have to love yourself before you can really love everything about your life.

In yoga, there is a slightly tongue in cheek saying that it’s called Yoga Practice, not Yoga Perfect, you can never perfect Yoga, Yoga is a journey. That’s how I’m trying to view life, as a practice, as something that you experience, love and enjoy, not something that has an objective, or even several objectives. Life just is.

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