Tuesday, August 12, 2014
"Genie, You're Free"
Are you thinking about the death of Robin Williams today? With all the news channels reporting it, Twitter feeds going wild and the many photos on Facebook it’s pretty hard not to think about it.
I’m publishing this week’s message early, unedited, unproofed and completely raw form. Why? Because that’s what many of us are feeling right now: raw emotions. We’re feeling sadness at how much we’ll miss his humor and crazy antics. We’re experiencing rage or anger that he died. Why didn’t someone see this coming, or why didn’t his family or friends do something?
As a minister, and also a licensed social worker I’m well aware of the truth of just how much depression and anxiety permeate our society. Studies indicate around 16 million Americans suffer from some form of depression and most of those cases go either undiagnosed or untreated. A psychiatrist one said, because he’s a medical doctor, that a death from suicide to him is no different than any other death. How can that be? Isn’t that callous? He explained that the reason he felt that way is that it is still a death from the disease of depression. In that light, it is no different to him than the death of a person from the disease of kidney failure, heart failure or a brain tumor.
Ponder that a moment. Do you see depression as the dis-ease it is? It is a condition that is treatable through many methods, including medication, behavioral therapy and the complimentary treatments of affirmative prayer, meditation, movement, exercise and massage, to name a few. I have used all of those for my clients. But, more importantly, I’ve use them for myself as well.
I’ve dealt with, and at times suffered from, chronic depression from the time I was a child. I’m 59 and I’ve allowed this condition to affect me in various forms for about 55 of those years. I’m no longer ashamed to say so, any more than I would be “ashamed” to be dealing with diabetes, lung cancer, HIV/AIDS or any other physical disease. Just as these other physical ailments can be treated through Spirit, mind and body, so can depression. At the time I’m writing this we’re hearing that William’s death was a suicide. I don’t know that for sure. What I know is an incredibly talented man, one who made so many of us laugh, cry and ponder ideas, is gone.
We can’t bring him back. What we can do in this country and abroad is stop vilifying people who are experiencing depression and anxiety like they are some kind of weaklings. It’s a disease and it’s highly treatable. Wouldn’t you rather be the catalysts to someone getting help with their depression, rather than being yet another nail in the coffin by saying things like, “Just pull yourself up from your boot straps,” “Get a grip!.” Or “Man up, you pathetic substitute for a man?”
If you know someone with depression, reach out to them. If you are depressed for more than a few days without have recently experienced tremendous loss, reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and their website is http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org where you can find links to local organizations. Reach out to a spiritual counselor who can help you deal knowing you’re not alone, and then refer you to a licensed social worker, licensed professional counselor or other mental health professional.
No, this isn’t my normal happy-peppy column. Being a spiritual being having a human experience means we must deal with all the human experience – all of it – even the parts we don’t want to talk about. You are not alone. There is a Power within us that is greater than us that knows exactly how to move forward in life. Open up to that Power within and allow it to guide you to the perfect person or right action to face whatever is standing in the way of your happiness. As always,
With Spirit, Joy and Playfulness …. And my love,
"Genie, You're Free"
R.I.P. Robin Williams