Robin

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I know this is a weird photo choice, but it just captures how fun he was and how much fun people had with him. photo from http://www.today.com

Celebrities’ deaths don’t usually affect me too much. My world and theirs are so far removed from each other, that other than a passing regretful thought, my world remains unchanged.

But Robin Williams is another story. Besides the fact that I grew up on his silliness and characters and watched Mrs. Doubtfire more times than I could ever possibly count, he left this world in a way that has become my greatest fear.

I desperately want to hug his wife. I want to hold her and cry with her and pray with her. I hurt so much for her, knowing the heartache that she has experienced even before his death.

There have been more than a few references on social media to some less-than-grace-filled opinions about depression-based suicide (insights along the lines of Christians Shouldn’t Have Depression, You Have Depression Because You Don’t Have Enough Faith, Pray Harder, Get Over It, etc.).

I would imagine that many of those opinions were shared by people who have never for one moment experienced depression themselves, nor watched a husband, wife, mother, father, brother, sister, or friend fight.so.hard. against this evil darkness and the lies with which it attacks. And this made me mad.

My first reactions were thoughts like, Who are they to weigh in on this? They have no effing idea what they’re talking about! They have no right to speak into this-they don’t know what it’s like!

But after my husband (Braveheart himself) intercepted a rather bitter, resentful facebook post I almost made, I recevied a text from a friend. A text of sweet support, letting me know that all this news coverage had brought us to mind and she was thinking of us. And in flooded all the experiences, people, and relationships we have that are so opposite of the opinions I mentioned earlier.

Yes, there are ignorant motormouths who will spout stupidly about hurts and illnesses they know nothing about.
But there are also parents who will attend conferences about mental illness because they want to be able to offer support.
There are parents who will take calls at any time of day because they have known this darkness themselves and can offer solidarity and comfort.
There are pastors who will lovingly counsel and pray you through dark moments in your marriage brought on by this illness.
There are life group members/friends who will listen, seek to understand, and refuse to stand in judgment, praying for and beside you instead of preaching at you.
There are best friends who will hold all your dark secrets and love you even more deeply because of them.
There are friends at church and at work who know just by looking at you when things are not well, and give you permission to have a crappy day.
There are co-workers who will let you vent over happy hour margaritas and not shy away from the hard topics.
There are other people silently suffering who find hope in the sharing of your own struggles, and who will stand with you in solidarity and hope because no one is alone in this.
There are blessings to be found despite this illness, and there are loving, grace-filled, gentle people to offer friendship and support. There are people who need your own love, gentleness, and grace. It’s my prayer that I can offer that. It’s my prayer that we all can.

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Get it.

I’m just going to say it. I resent cancer patients a little. People get cancer. Not as in, people are diagnosed with cancer. People understand it. It’s tangible (more or less). So when people announce prayer requests for someone with cancer, everyone gets it. They respond with sweet, encouraging comments and reassurances that they are, indeed, praying. They rejoice when the chemo side effects let up or when a cancer patient’s spirits are lifted and they can get out of the house. Those things are wonderful-small silver linings that are actually huge victories in the day-in-day-out-war waged by a person with cancer.

But we also live with a cancer. One that most people don’t get. What would people’s responses be if I posted something about how badly-desperately-we needed prayer last night because the darkness of this cancer threatened to take us both down with it? That I have begun and ended every one of the last 4 days in tears and anxiety from watching my husband suffer from this illness? What would people reply if I announced that my husband had thrown a tantrum of epic proportions while I was out running that resulted in a destroyed 3-drawer plastic organizer and a broken glass picture frame.all.over.our.bed (no joke) and I’m constantly anxious because he is fairly unpredictable right now and could everyone please pray for peace and comfort?

Would people rush to our side-literally or figuratively? Or would they just stay awkwardly silent, because….what the hell do you say to the wife of someone with major, chronic depression?! And let’s be honest, depression just is not as glamorous as cancer. It’s a lot harder to relate to it. It’s only a short distance from actual, legit Crazy Town. Fighting cancer is noble. Fighting mental illness is messy.

Ok, so maybe I should clarify: I resent people’s general response to cancer vs. depression. Generally. Overall. And I resent the hypocrisy in stigma between the two diseases. Yes, I know cancer is terrible. I would not wish it on anyone. It is horrendous.

But so is depression. And there is far less support for it, when that support is fiercely needed. 

I just wish that I could send out a mass email, facebook post, text, carrier pigeon, anything- to ask for the same prayer and moral support that families of cancer patients can. But I can’t. Because generally, overall, people don’t *get* it, and it will just end up hurting more.

Get it?

On making it worse…

I have prayed that God would use this blog and the words in it to encourage others who are walking in shoes similar to mine. The problem is, I have no encouraging words right now.

I broke down last night, the sobbing, snotting, hiccuping kind of break down…you know, the pretty kind. The burden of silence with this disease was too heavy, and I could not handle it another second. My sweet husband came to the rescue as much as he could-said he would call our pastor, tucked me in to bed, and ever the Braveheart, encouraged me to “hang in there.” Every ounce of strength he had was used to bolster me up.

Which made him spiral into The Hole today. And it is my fault. I know this because he told me so. I am so not good at being supportive of him when he is not well. I can hold it together for only so long before I become a scared mess. It’s like a sick form of super power. Not only can I not fix it, I can make it worse.

It doesn’t seem to matter how hard I pray through the pain, pray against the cynicism, fear, and lies that attack us both, pray for healing. Eventually, fear and emotional exhaustion catch up with me at the. worst. time. And it just makes him more sick. 

The amount of self-loathing that comes with this is fairly impressive. I need no condemnation, because I’ve got that covered.