Picture it, Charlotte, Fall 2003. I was 22 years old and on the doorstep of my 23rd birthday. I had found myself in a ball of gloom that I couldn’t shake. It didn’t matter if those Carolina skies were in fact blue because everything looked dark to me.
Depression. How did I get there?
I didn’t have the answer for that. I just remember it being a combination of nothing and yet everything. So you see, answering the question “what’s wrong?” was difficult for me because I…well I didn’t know! What WAS wrong? Why couldn’t I shake the funk I was in? I wanted company yet I didn’t want ot see anyone. I wanted to go to parties, but couldn’t convince my feet to move. All of the things that used to get me excited – the guy I had a crush on, football, dinner with friends, a new salsa club – none of it got me excited anymore.
The depression deepened and I lost my voice.I was screaming inside. SCREAMING. I wanted someone to hear me. I wanted them to see me. I was drowning in this deep, black abyss and I didn’t see a way out. I would silently pray to God. Lord, please hear me. Please help me. I can’t take this any longer. I remember searching for what the problem was because if I knew then I could find a solution, but it didn’t seem to just be one thing. Apparently over the course of time the little things grew until they became this huge ball of smothering darkness that cut off my air supply. Soon I didn’t believe I was worth it. I wasn’t worth anything.
See, here’s the thing about depression. It doesn’t come into your life screaming it’s presence. It comes quietly, sucking the very joy from you little by little. It takes away everything you believe yourself to be, every part of your self esteem. It invades your mind, body, and soul. It holds you down until you lose the will to fight.
I lost the will to fight.
That december I decided that I would not live to see my 23rd birthday. It was a wrap for me. I was so numb inside. I felt like nothing. Do you know what it’s like to walk around empty all day everyday? To not be able to pull yourself out? Every morning I woke up I cried. I cried so hard. Lord why? Why didn’t you choose to take me in the night? I don’t want to be here anymore! At first I didn’t have the guts to take my life, but then suddenly, I did. That december I planned to end it. December 16th would be a day of celebration for me because I would be out of here and done with all that silent suffering.
The sunday before my birthday I was riding home from church with my pastor in the driver’s seat and my mother in the passenger seat. I was sitting back there with my big Jackie O sunglasses off and I prayed inside telling Jesus that someone had to hear me. Please God let someone hear my silent screams before it’s too late! I need someone to see me! Just then my pastor looked at me in the rear view mirror and said I SEE YOU. I SEE YOU! God told me to tell you I see you!
Just then it was like air filled my body. I hadn’t realized that I wasn’t breathing before but now new life was being blown into me! I cried. I cried so hard. I was saved. It was a new beginning for me! I could breathe again! It took time to get back to good. I had to lay my life out in front of me and tackle my issues one by one, no matter how small they seemed. I talked to my pastor regularly getting counseling on some of the issues. I drowned myself in God’s presence. I prayed day and night. I read my bible. I went into praise and worship. I found myself so deep in him until depression had no choice but to flee. I was one of the ones that survived.
Why am I telling you this today? Because tonight the Emmy awards come on and I have no doubt that they will honor Robin Williams. Robin Williams didn’t make it. He didn’t survive his depression. He took his life because the darkness was too much.
I’m not here to condemn him because I understand. I’ve been there. But I am here to let others out there know that there is another way out. Things can get better. They can. And it takes a lot of work. But you’re worth it! Your future is worth it. Cling on to Jesus like never before. He loves you and wants to help you. I love you! I promise you I do. I care if no one else does. I need you here. I need you to fulfill your destiny. God has major plans for you and I want you to walk into them. The kingdom of God needs you. You have so much to offer. You will be missed if you go. People’s heart will hurt and they will mourn you if you go. They may not show it the way you need them to right now, but people love you and need you here. I know your mountain may look impossible, but God. BUT GOD!
And if you’re the friend of someone you may suspect is depressed, be there for them. Just be there. Many times those fighting depression just want to lay in a ball in the corner and not move. Lay there with them. You don’t have to say a word. They just need to know that they aren’t alone and that someone sees them. And when they’re ready to take the step to get better, be there to help guide them. Pray them through this and show up. Show up! So many people just need someone to show up.Robin Williams, your death hit me like a ton of bricks because I was rooting for you. I knew your struggle and my heart hurt for you because I know that pain all too well. My heart is broken for you and everyone else that didn’t make it. Thank you for the laughter you brought to this world. I wish you were still here so that we could bring laughter to yours. You were, and are, loved.