Depression Lies!

I grew up as a skeptic. If you’re depressed, well just get up off the couch and do something! You’ll feel better. It was all so simple sitting in my perfect (*cough*) little world. We were all free to choose how our lives would turn out. Anything less than that was a cop-out. Excuses for failure were not acceptable. Sadly, this thought process speaks to the environment I was raised in. I’d be willing to bet that I was not the only in my age group who held such beliefs.

Then life happened.

Then I had mental illness stare me right in the face. My husband’s ex-wife had a complete break from reality and was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Paranoid Schizophrenia. It rocked my world! Everything I had believed about mental illness became a bold, glaring lie!

Then I met some really wonderful people, many of whom have a constant, daily struggle with depression.

For someone who grew up without mental illness, my adult life has been a huge learning process. I developed a high level of compassion for those who suffered, and are suffering. I constantly feel at a loss as to how to help my friends who deal with this because I can’t comprehend what it must be like. I’m a work in progress. For me personally, I don’t stigmatize mental illness anymore.

But our society! Collectively, nobody wants to talk about mental health. What is it going to take?

We’ve lost a brilliant mind to depression.

Can we talk about it now!? Can we use him as a banner? Everyone knew his name. Everyone was affected by him in one way or another. And yet he suffered. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He made us feel. And yet he suffered. Can we finally talk about depression and make it less of a thing? Less taboo?

From my favorite movie of his – I can still see his “students” standing around clapping, but not uniformly, because we must not conform!:

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up–for you the flag is flung–for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths–for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
~Walt Whitman

I shall miss the many voices that he created. I shall miss his zany laughter. I shall miss his physical humor. I hope his death can be a catalyst for something positive.

My favorite stand-up act!



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