It Could Have Been Me


Robin Williams played Genie in my favorite ever Disney film, Aladdin

Robin Williams played Genie in my favorite ever Disney film, Aladdin

Robin Williams died yesterday.

When I heard the news, I was at a wedding reception. My immediate reaction was to make light of it. Not because I found even a shred of humor in his death, but because of where I was. I did not want anything to dim the newlyweds’ joy. Yet the happiness of the young couple was not the only reason I tried to shrug off the sadness of Mr. Williams’ death. I just did not want to admit, even to myself right then, how deeply the news was affecting me. I did not want to make room for the thought pushing to the front of my mind.

“That could have been me.”

Every newscast talks about the addictions he battled throughout his life. Most talk about the deep, consuming depression that marked the final months of his life. Some even suggested that Robin Williams was able to use the humor that entertained fans for decades to hide the depth of his family and friends.

I’ve been there. I don’t have the acting chops or comedic timing of Mr. Williams. But I have faced depression and addiction, even suicidal thoughts. I’ve hidden these things from my family and friends. Sometimes I’ve been very successful at hiding, sometimes I haven’t. For years I have lived with the fear that these demons would be the end of me. Even now, when it may appear to others that I have my life together and my issues under control, I am scared that one of those monsters might jump out and grab hold of me.

My addiction is what concerns me most. I don’t do any illegal drugs and I very rarely drink. My drug of choice is food. I am an emotional eater, using food to celebrate victories or mourn losses. Sometimes I crave sweet and creamy; sometimes I crave salty and crunchy. The problem with food addiction is that I can’t stop eating. God designed my body to require food in order to survive. The types and amounts that I shovel into my mouth, though, are not a requirement. Even knowing that, I can’t make myself stop. And that depresses me more. Which makes me reach for more food I should not eat. Which adds to depression. Which….

You get the picture.

I am relatively sure that depression won’t “get me.” Difficult as it has been, I have accepted that this depression is a part of who I am and the treatment for it will always be a part of my life. Those closet to me have learned the signs of an untreated me- because I have made the choices in the past to stop treatment. They know what to look for and for the most part they know what to say to make me choose to get back to treatment. At this point, in time, I feel confident that depression will not bring an end to my life.

I can’t say the same about food.

Robin WIlliams as Peter Pan in Hook in my second favorite of his films.

Robin WIlliams as Peter Pan in Hook in my second favorite of his films.

My sons like the movie Spaceballs. There is a scene where a newscaster says Pizza the Hut got locked in a car and ate himself to death. Now, I don’t think I will literally eat myself to death, but I worry about y food choices could be doing to my body. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I am not hurting only me, I am hurting God when I allow my addiction to control me.


Yesterday, the dual demons of addiction and depression ended the life of Robin Williams. His legacy of laughter will live on through films and internet clips, though the laughter might be a little bittersweet as the world mourns his loss. Today, I vow to fight those same demons in my life. I don’t know yet what my legacy will be or how many lives I may touch. But with God’s help, I won’t let mental issues keep me from finding out.

Rest in peace, Robin. Enjoy Neverland.

Be Responsible with Mental Health Advice

Thanks to a link on Facebook this afternoon, I came across a blog called FEEL YOUR SELF WORTH. If the blog title wasn’t interesting enough, the title of today’s post sure was: the happy pill has turned into a death warrant. Wow. I sure had to read that one.

And now that I have read it, there is a lot I want to say! I couldn’t get my response to her to post on her blog, so I am posting it here.

Have you considered that perhaps you were on the wrong pill? The haziness and fuzzy head and not caring are all things that I experienced during my most depressed moments. Those feelings were intensified on some medications. It wasn’t until my doctor found the right pill in the right dose for me that I began to crawl out of depression.

Advising people to not take anti-depressants–that is very irresponsible. No, the pills don’t work for everyone. There are some who may not be helped no matter what pill they take. But to just blatantly say “don’t take them, the pills will kill you” makes no sense. Would tell a diabetic not to take insulin? Would you tell an asthmatic not to use their inhaler? Would you tell a cancer patient not to attempt chemo or radiation?

Depression–true depression–is not just a sad feeling. It’s not just a severe case of the blues because your life isn’t going in the direction that you want it to go in. It’s not a matter of no self-worth. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. In many cases, it needs to be treated with medication to restore the balance.

Rather than telling people to not take these pills, what you should do is encourage others to take an active role in their own health. If you are taking a pill and you don’t like the way it makes you feel, tell your doctor! If he or she is worth the paper their medical degree is printed on, there will be no problem in changing you to a different medication. If there is a fight about trying a new medication, then perhaps you need to find a new doctor. It is YOUR health. If something doesn’t feel right to you, you have every right to look for other options.

And yes, I realize that for some the other options include no medication. If that works, great! It doesn’t work for everyone, though. I am not going to stand up and say, “You have got to try this happy pill that I am using; it will cure all of your depression problems.” It won’t. What works for me may not work for you. And that is OK. God made us all different, so we are all going to respond differently to things. The trick to fully recovering from depression is first realizing that you have an illness and then finding the right treatment for you.

If you do not need medication, then by all means don’t take it. Just don’t knock those of us that do. Share your story, share your experience, but don’t hinder someone else’s recovery by advising them to stay away from anti-depressants just because the pills didn‘t work for you.  If you want to help others, do it in a responsible way.

AntidepressantMajor depressive disorderMental health