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Depression

NormalI have not posted in a long while. It’s been a tough year, and the last few weeks have been particularly difficult…and will probably continue to be so. But, this week I feel the NEED to write, and I’m going to warn you now, this could be my wordiest post yet.

Yesterday, as anyone who hasn’t been living in complete and total seclusion knows (therefore if you’re reading this you are not one of those unlikely few) Robin Williams took his own life. Many of you may feel as though you are sick of hearing about it and that is, of course, your prerogative…but I need to bring it up, because it hit me monumentally hard.

It may seem silly to some, especially since I don’t normally subscribe to “celebrity worship”, but I always identified with Robin. Like many of you, I grew up watching him on Mork & Mindy. He never failed to brighten my day. I was one of those who would get mocked for being a bit different. I had an extra curvy spine due to scoliosis, walked on my tip-toes, had freckles, was goofy and awkward, and my opinions didn’t always fall in line with everyone else. So to see Robin bring Mork to life every week, and to have Mindy and the others love him despite his odd behavior, and sometimes because of it, meant the world to me. Mork was nowhere near “normal”, and that helped…a lot.

Later on, I watched his stand-up and learned that not only was he funny, but he was incredibly intelligent. I was also never confused at how he was able to connect A to B by way of L, M, D, R, Sasquatch and the square root of 144. As someone with a completely non-linear, A.D.D. riddled brain I could see and understand his train of thought. The comedy he wrote and performed also let us know he had his own demons to fight…and that although he was laughing, it was indeed a fight. Most importantly, though some of our struggles were different, he let me know I wasn’t the only one struggling…and it helped.

I have suffered through varying degrees of depression for most of my life. Some periods were darker than others. Yes, suicide was contemplated, and attempted. The reasons behind the attempts seem silly now, but the feelings that those reasons spurred into life were overwhelming and all consuming. Luckily, I had enough friends that gave a shit, and they helped me climb out of the depths.

The years went on, and my struggles continued. Through it all, Robin was there with a new role. Whether the film was a comedy or a drama, his portrayal held a bit of both. I could always see, in those moments when his character was contemplating this or that…dealing with adversity…dealing with tragedy…struggling with identity, that he was drawing from his own experiences. Not old experiences of his younger days, but the day to day struggle to just get through the day, and to feel as though you deserved to have done so.

So, to me, Robin Williams represented Hope. Hope that it gets better, hope that I can get through it…because “If Robin can, anyone can.” Unfortunately, it was too much for him on that day…he was unable to ride that dark wave to the shore where he would have felt stable again.

I am not the only one who was shaken to the core by the news. Nothing I feel can possibly compare to what his friends and family are going through, but that does not make the pain that I and others are feeling any less real.

Today I decided to remember his brilliance by watching some of his movies, reading some of his quotes, and creating a cover photo for my facebook page that features him and a quote. I also decided that it’s time to stop looking to others for Hope. I need to find it within myself…and I think I have. Robin is still an inspiration. He hung on for so many years, and provided joy and kindness to so many along the way. He was compassionate, he was generous, he was not the Norm.

So many with depression say things like “I just want to feel normal”. Through all that I have been through, I have never even entertained this notion. Why? Normal is defined as “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected”…Who wants to be “typical”? I don’t, that’s for sure. I don’t believe that everyone should embark on this  Quest to be Normal. That’s just setting yourself up for a whole heap of self-loathing and living a dull life. Trust me, these are not good things for the one who is severely depressed. I think what we are really looking for (but may not be able to voice) is a Quest to Acceptance & Understanding…a Quest to Self…a Quest to Peace.

As we that struggle continue on, we will have good days, and bad. We will know others that shall have the same.  Remember as you move through your life that just because someone is smiling and laughing, it doesn’t mean they are not suffering. Everyone suffers, to different degrees, but everyone does. So whether or not you know someone is dealing with mental illness, be kind. Show compassion. Listen. Reach out sincerely. Share your own experiences if it seems like it will help, and keep your mouth shut when it won’t. Offer distractions. Be supportive.

Whatever you do, don’t tell someone to just “get over it” or to just “be happy”…if it were really THAT simple, don’t you think we would have tried that already? Ask how you can help, do not tell them they’re being silly, or that they just need to “Pray more”. Granted, I’d say a good 99.9% of you reading this are pagans, and pushing prayer isn’t usually something we do…but, sometimes it happens. lol

Yes, a person’s faith – whatever it may be – may help from time to time…but it is not a cure. To try and peddle it as such is irresponsible, and could prove to be outright dangerous should one’s prayers not be answered in a way they would like.

If you are suffering, reach out, write or speak your feelings to someone (it sure helps me at least), do what makes you happy, avoid alcohol when you feel yourself sliding into the pit (even if you’re NOT an alcoholic…it can lead to bad things), sing, paint, crochet – whatever floats your boat….and if you need to cry for a while? That’s ok too. There is no one “magic treatment” that will make all your troubles disappear. All we can do is survive them. Just like that old Zen Proverb says “Fall down seven times. Get up Eight”.

Striving for “Normal” is just making yourself feel as though YOU aren’t good enough, but you know what? YOU ARE! As a dear friend likes to say “Let your Freak Flag fly!” Embrace what it is that makes you, YOU. Celebrate your differences, because if everyone was the same, we would never have any change and there would be nothing new. Nothing would ever get better… everything would be boring. Who the hell wants a life that is stagnant and boring?? I don’t.

“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. Hey. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.” The Doctor (From Doctor Who’s: Vincent and the Doctor)

Add to your own Pile of Good Things as often as possible, be sure to add to the good piles of others as well. If it all starts to feel like too much, PLEASE, seek help. It may feel like nobody CAN help, but reach out anyway.

I wish you all Peace, Love, Understanding, and the continued Strength to find out how Amazing you can be.

 

_____

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

National Hopeline Network: 1-800-442-4673

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386

 

JourneyingGriefIt’s been a rough month for the Pixie. I’ve been busy writing an Esbat, taking a couple fun witchy classes taught by my HP, trying to get my house in order for guests that will be staying with us in July, planning a trip to Illinois for my Brother-in-law’s ordination as a Lutheran Minister in June, dealing with  some not-so-awesome folks that live down the street…the list goes on and on. Some of the stress was from good things, some not, but the thing that effected my peace of mind the most? Mothers Day.

Its impending arrival was the main reason why I haven’t posted to the blog in the last 2 weeks. It was at the forefront of my mind, and I just couldn’t bring myself to focus on it until other things were completed….so I pushed it back. For those of you who don’t already know, I lost my Mother to Pancreatic Cancer last August….so this Mothers Day was a difficult one.

Overall, I think I’ve been dealing with Mom’s death rather well. I have no regrets about our relationship. I said everything I needed to say to her, she knew how I felt about her, I knew how she felt about me, I know I did everything within my power to help her during her illness. But, the fact remains, I miss her beyond measure.

I’ve been doing some thinking about those “Five Stages of Grief” we often hear about: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I’ve personally experienced 3 of the 5; anger, depression and acceptance. It’s said that  most people experience all of these, but not everyone. “They” also say these stages can occur in any order, what they don’t say, is that some of them may pop up over and over again…which is something I’ve been discovering.

I mean, it’s not like I’ve never experienced the loss of a loved one before. I lost my Great-Grandmother in 1997, and my Grandfather in 2003 both of them were quite precious to me. Yet, those losses did nothing to prepare me for the profound level of grief I have experienced through the loss of Mom.

When the loss is of someone who has been your anchor, teacher, caregiver, support system for the entirety of your life, I guess it’s only natural that the depression stage emerges more than once. It doesn’t help that I’m already predisposed to depression…

So, how have I been dealing? By soldiering through. As Mothers Day approached, I started to feel her lack of presence…at least physical presence. When the issue with the folks down the street emerged, I wanted to call her, and vent and have her get me to laugh…but I couldn’t. Yes, I can talk to her – duh, I’m a witch who has a pretty strong connection with her ancestors – but, it’s not the same. But, I had shit to do, and as Mom once said (ok, maybe more than once, lol) “When there’s shit to do, it’s got to get done, so just fucking do it!” Yeah…I got my gift of colorful language from her, lol.

So, I got my shit done. I also finally took a few moments to let myself actually feel the sadness on Wednesday. I shed a few tears…and then I just felt…better. I’ve also been looking to a specific line in the Wiccan Rede:

When misfortune is enow, wear the star upon your brow”

This line is basically telling us to trust in The Goddess and your Faith to see you through difficult times. To remind us that everything happens for a reason…whether we like it or not, and whether or not we ever learn what the reason may be. Remarkably, it has been helping me since Mom first called me with her diagnosis.

The support of those around me has also made an immense impact on my ability to deal with it all. Yet another reason I am grateful to have become part of The Coven of Sangha-Sho…Their love & compassion has been a remarkable gift.

So, my journey through grief continues. Some days are good…some not so good. But, as long as I keep moving forward, and don’t allow myself to get stuck in a big ol’ pile of deep, dark, emotional muck, I think I’ll be alright.