Wednesday, August 13, 2014

That ‘deep dark well’

The death of Robin Williams and the revealing stories about his struggle with depression have prompted statements from everyone from the president to his best friends. Many are posting comments about depression on Facebook. One that I liked was posted by “Land Line Now” Senior Correspondent Terry Scruton.

If you read “Roses and Razzberries,” you know Terry. If you listen to “Land Line Now” on Sirius XM, you know Terry. But there’s a side of him you don’t see, one that is particularly insightful and frequently profound.

Terry’s friends and family do see that side of him and we were privy to that this morning with a post on his personal Facebook. I have his permission to share this with you. 

I’m seeing a lot of posts today about depression in the wake of Robin Williams’ death, and understandably so. I’ve never suffered from clinical depression, but I know plenty of people who have and I thought I'd offer a few thoughts from someone on the outside looking in. 

The constant refrain I've heard throughout my life when dealing with people who have depression is “you don't get it. You don't understand.” You’re right. I don’t. But what you need to understand is that I’m trying.

My college girlfriend was bipolar and I got that refrain from her all the time. It made me feel small, ineffective and useless. It still does when I hear it today, even though I’ve learned so much more since those days. One thing I’ve learned is that depression is a disease. It’s not just a state of mind. People with depression don’t need to “cheer up” or “get over it.” They need medical help. The hard part is convincing them of that. Convincing them that there is hope. That they can get better.

I’ve heard that suffering from depression (I refuse to call it “being depressed” because that makes it sound like “being sad” and it’s so much more than that) is like being in a deep dark well with no way out. Here’s what it looks like from the other side: Since we can’t come down there with you, we just keep dropping buckets down the well, hoping you’ll grab one and we can lift you out to safety. But having never been down that well ourselves, we don’t realize how dark it is down there. We don’t realize that you might not even see the bucket or know that it’s there. We also don’t realize that sometimes those buckets might accidentally hit you on the head. Sorry about that. 

But know this: We’re not going to stop. No matter how deep or how dark it gets down there, there is always someone, somewhere who is going to keep trying to fish you out, whether you realize it or not. We are here. Buckets at the ready. You are never as alone in the dark as you think you are.