Tuesday, August 12, 2014

O’ Captain! My Captain!

I first saw Dead Poets Society when I was 15 years old.  It changed my life.

I wanted to be a poet.  I wanted to marry Ethan Hawke.  Or Robert Sean Leonard.  Or Josh Charles  Any of them would have been fine.  I wanted to be an inspiration.  I wanted to make my life extraordinary.

In college, I got a tattoo on my ankle that says, "Carpe Diem".  It was (and is) a reminder to "Seize the Day".

I studied English in college and wanted to be the next Thoreau.  I wanted to live in the woods and suck out all the marrow of life.  Until I learned there were no parties or shopping or really much else in the woods and come to think of it, I was not really a woodsy type gal.  I gradually learned how to take the lessons that meant so much to be and try to abide by them and to let go of the parts that did not really apply to me.  Knowing and loving and watching that movie shaped so many of my ideas and my thoughts and my dreams.

When I found out that Robin Williams died yesterday, I was crushed.  I was speechless.  I was so sad.

When I found out that the cause of death was suicide, my heart sank even more.

Depression is a real thing.  It's a disease.  I know because I have suffered from it.

Long before you might think, too.

I had one aunt on my father's side of the family.  She committed suicide when I was in high school.  My parents had long since split up and the relationship with my aunt had become strained.  We were not close and I had no idea she was in any kind of pain or sadness.  By the time I knew, it was too late.

My father also suffered depression.  Years of intense therapy and all sorts of medication and his demons were often in his own mind.  On the outside, he had everything. On the inside, he was insecure and felt weak and often alone and depressed.

Genetically, it makes sense that I could suffer from depression since it runs in my family.

During and after my parents divorce, I was in all sorts of therapy.  I also did talk therapy in college and then again for a short while in my 20's. I was always fortunate enough to know when I needed the help of someone else.  While suicide was not something I thought about, I tended to suffer from either being too "high" or too "low".  Not manic, but not right.  And I did not want to live that way.

I have been on and off different medications and I know pretty much what works for me.  Sometimes, I can stick with all herbal and natural medicine to get me through a rough patch.  Sometimes I need more.  

When Allie died, I paid VERY close attention to how I was and tried to see if I was situationally depressed or just overall depressed.  During that time, the grief counseling and some over-the-counter antidepressants worked for me.  I needed to feel the pain and go through it to come out on the other side of it.  And I did.  I still am.

When I lost my job last year and became a full-time stay at home mom with a 5 month old, my depression and anxiety were off the charts.  So I talked to my husband.  I talked to my family.  I talked to my doctor.  And I did what was right for me.

Depression is real.  Addiction is real.  Pain is real.  Suffering is real.  I am so grateful that I have the support system I need to know when I need help that it is ok to ask.  I wish that everyone had that.  I can't say how much I wish for that.

I am so sorry that it took a celebrity dying for people to talk about depression and suicide but I guess if there is anything good to come of his death, that may be it.

As for me, I will keep "Seizing The Day" and teach my daughter to do the same and also teach her that there is nothing we will not talk about.  There is nothing too dark or too scary...there is always light at the end of the tunnel. And if I can't help her find it, we will find someone who will.

“Carpe. Hear it? Carpe. Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”
 – John Keating, Dead Poets Society

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