A Tribute to Robin Williams

This past week, we received heartbreaking news about Robin Williams’ suicide. Depression is real and it hurts the person and his/ her loved ones.

Robin’s daughter, Zelda Rae, mourned her father by writing on twitter: “I love you. I miss you. I’ll try to keep looking up.”

One of the many lies depression will tell you is that nobody cares about you, so you won’t want to “bother” or burden people by reaching out to them. Fight this lie. Punch it in the face. Somebody will listen to you because no man is an island. We are not called to suffer and live alone with no outlet or release. If you suspect that someone you know is dealing with depression, here are some symptoms to look for:

-Physical symptoms like muscle ache, joint pain, and stabbing sensations in the chest are part of depression.

-Poor eating habits (binge eating or skipping meals) and sleeping during the day while staying up at night is an indication of restlessness and depression.

– Panic attacks, compulsive thoughts and habits (having to do your laundry or dishes a certain way or punishing yourself for doing a task poorly), social phobia (anxiety around crowds, inability to carry conversation, desire to escape social settings and avoid friends).

-Irritability, feeling overwhelmed and feeling grumpy and angry all the time

-Apathy towards commitments, your future, and relationships (school, work, family) denotes emotional exhaustion and numbness

-Low self-esteem (avoiding mirrors, looking down when you talk to others)

-Skewed logic that makes one believe things that aren’t true (eg. I am ugly, I am a failure)

If you know someone with these symptoms, it is VITAL that you are a source of true help and comfort. Offer your friendship and hear them out. True vulnerability needs to be fostered. Our society stigmatizes anyone who isn’t “well- rounded.” No one is well- rounded (because everyone is human). Some people are better at covering up their pain but that doesn’t mean that the pain does not exist. Seeking help is brave and we should cultivate honesty. It is OK to not be okay 100% of the time. We are not programs or robots. We have eccentricities and are allowed to be weak sometimes because we cannot conquer the world by ourselves.  Ultimately, depression’s best remedy is joy. To get true joy, we need to know that Jesus loves us without measure. Only joy and true love pushes all the negative feelings away and fills the void. There is a hole in our heart reserved for God. No matter how much we try to fill it with other things, those things will always decay and be fleeting. Eternity is placed on our hearts and our life on earth is a journey to that final destination: Perfect union with the Author of Love.

Brooke Fraser’s “C.S. Lewis Song” discusses our desire for heaven: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wo-e2BjICCY

C.S Lewis said “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” I think that C.S Lewis aptly articulates that our desires for comfort, love and security are mainly focused upon possessions and achievements, but he identifies that these things are just shadows of what could truly satisfy us if we allowed our hearts to be open. Our bursts of courage or refusal to conform stems from a desire to experience and live in a state of total surrender and spiritual harmony with the world. Possessions are fleeting, but our identity and choices are aspects that frame the type of person we will be. Sometimes we get lost in the world’s dog-eat dog, defeated perspective on life and we inherently seek our own experience of what it means to truly live. Pursuing this search for meaning exposes our restlessness and desires to know the secret to living a full life. We get stuck living in a “half life” that leaves us hollow, thirsty and impatient to fulfill the void. We use drinking, entertainment, sex, and stimulants to suppress that void. Sometimes we are so desperate to fill this void with the ephemeral charms that bring temporary joy, that we inadvertently blind ourselves to the beauty and flavor of life. St. Augustine of Hippo said it best when he wrote, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” I believe that our hearts were made to be in union with God. We are invited to be at one with life, to feel, to empathize, to experience life without the enslavement that binds us to the world’s demands. We are called to be servants to life, not masters to life and the way in which we practice goodness dictates what kind of people we are and will become.

I’ve come to realize that when I am strong, I feel pride and declare that I do not need God and slowly forget all the times that I did need God. When I reflect on the darkest parts of my life, I now understand that it is in times of poverty, distress and heartache that I truly grow into a better and stronger person. I like to think of my suffering as a privilege of sorts as it gives me an idea of what Jesus experienced on the cross for me. If you or someone you know is dealing with depression, there is help! Call 1-866-531-2600. No one expects that somebody so good at making us laugh silently suffers. For all affected by depression, we pray to the Lord.  #RIPRobinWilliams

You are loved. You matter. You are important. You can make it through this storm.