Friday, August 29, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Depression and Robin Williams

My husband is a curate at an Episcopal church. As part of his job, he was looking through a pre-marital counseling article which advised couples to be wary of "fairy-tale syndrome." Trials and tribulations will come and test the merits of the marriage. Trials like... the wife having a weird laugh.

Excuse me while I laugh/ cry hysterically.

OK, can you think of anything less helpful for an engaged couple? If your wife's "weird laugh" is threatening the marriage, you need to reconsider life in general. God forbid you have a real crisis, or even the flu.

News events have been on my mind, and on everyone's mind, constantly. Between ISIS (or is it just ISI now?), Ferguson, US/Mexico border issues, Ebola, the Ukraine, Gaza -  what else am I missing, folks? - I've started avoiding the news most days. I guess this is wrong, and I do check on Iraq updates and send up prayers whenever I remember, but despair comes over me every time I do any in-depth searching. 

And then there's Robin Williams. Everything has been said that can be said, but tears start in my eyes when I contrast the joy he brought the world and the despair that devoured him. Depression is a real disease, which left untreated is FATAL. My one hope in all this is that his tragic death will wake up those who see behavioral health care as "optional." 

My own mental illness is wreaking havoc. It's like having a monster eat at your brain, taking away your personality, your energy, everything that makes you you. I struggle to know what is the disease and what is me, or even what are sins and what is the disease. It's easy to blame everything on myself, but it's also easy to blame it all on the disease. 

On a related note, I have yet to find a confessor in Savannah. There are so many conflicts of interest because of my husband's job, so even with the confidentiality oath I would feel uncomfortable. But of course, if it was a real priority I would have found someone already, so.... 

Pray for me.


Sometimes the little things in life save us. For instance, did you ever notice how pretty the inside of a red onion is?  

I was slicing produce for a salad last night and marveled at the beauty of red onion, deep-red Southern tomatoes, golden Georgia peaches, and bright-orange pepper. It's so nice to have real tomatoes and peaches again; I've been eating heirloom tomatoes like apples. 

Different things keep different folks from committing suicide. For me, the self-despair is too great to appeal to right to life or self-worth, unless I'm feeling well enough to NOT be tempted to suicide. What helps me is thinking about the good but simple things in life. I may not think my own self is worth much, but I can think to myself of ice water in the August heat, good-smelling soap, warm clothes from the dryer. Sometimes something that small will bring me off the edge. 

As a tribute to life, and a prayer for all who suffer from depression, here is a video of Robin Williams interacting with the famous gorilla Koko. 


  1. Weird laugh? WTH? My fiance and I have been through hell and back in the last year. If a weird laugh was all we'd have to deal with, that would be glorious. We haven't started our pre-marital courses yet, but I think we could probably teach them by this point. Being full time care givers for my mother, having the police called on us unfairly, having to call the police multiple times, being lied about, another family crisis, unemployment for five months, and we need premarital counseling? If we aren't going to work out, we'd know by now. We've been through more in the last year than some couples go through in a life time. Yeah, I wish all we had to deal with was a weird laugh. I would think that was a vacation on a tropical island. And if a man doesn't know his girlfriend has a weird laugh should they even be thinking of marriage if she has never laughed in front of him? Good grief!

    1. True dat. Y'all have already been through a ton. Some folks that get married very young in life have a different idea of "trials," but our marital literature doesn't need to reinforce this.

      I will say, though, that my husband and I had been together 7 years before we got married, and even went to the same high school. And yet, I remember yawning on our way to the honeymoon and him saying that I used to yawn differently, so you never know :)

  2. I prayed. BTW, do you mean confessor vs. spiritual director? because I'm considering if I need the former as it seems to be quite a different thing.

    1. One difference is that a confessor has to be a priest - someone who can act "in persona Christi." Whereas a layperson can be a spiritual director. They also have different functions. A spiritual director is sort of like a counselor for the soul, someone to bounce ideas off of, someone who can give advice about how to grow closer to God. A confessor is someone who offers the sacrament of reconciliation, to whom you confess your sins on a regular basis. My last confessor was a priest at my church but not the head rector.

      In the Episcopal church, you would need to find someone willing to offer that sacrament, someone committed to sacramental theology. Some Episcopal clergy are less keen on it than others. You may need to confess to a couple of different priests before finding someone who you feel helps you. On the whole though, confessing is both deeply personal and deeply impersonal: the confessor can never mention those sins to you again, for instance.

  3. When you said about the 'weird laugh' I immediately thought of Janice from Friends. Haha. I snort when I laugh. My hubby is very forebearing.

    I have problems with confession. I confess too much to everyone. I feel I have to confess all my failings and sins to anyone who'll listen. It's habit from the old church and I'm trying to combat it. It's wise to find someone you feel safe with. I will pray. x

    Your onion is indeed beautiful. Colour feeds the soul, I'm sure of it. It's like a little piece of God. He is light and light is every colour.

    Remember, to Jesus you are the pearl of great price, He gave up everything to call you His own and carries you home rejoicing. Precious. Cherish yourself a little if you can. [preaching to myself too] Hugs.

    1. What wonderful words Sarah! Your posts and comments have meant a lot to me, and I know it's from your heart, from your own experiences.