Late last night I was walking home from a gig in the February cold when …
I stand up in front of the masses.
My name is Jan, and I am a recovering depressed person.
Upon writing, this, I’ve come to realize there is no identity that a person suffering from depression can tack on to themselves. It’s something like a double edged sword. One can say this prevents a person from holding on to a negative identity. For someone who is still living in the quagmire, it can be seen as a social statement that no one wants to recognize their pain.
The above prologue to this post is true. I am recovering. I do not allow it to be part of my identity and I fight tooth and nail from the moment I sense my own consciousness in bed in the morning to when I drift off to sleep at night. It was not an easy road, however.
I will save you from the entire story, but will say that at my worst, I suffered from both depression and anxiety. I was on medication just to help me sleep through the night and function at work. I was an emotional mess and yes, I did think, and on several occasions acted upon severing my existence, to my apparent failure.
I am reminded of my journey today because of the news today that genius funny man Robin Williams left this world this afternoon, apparently from suicide. It struck me personally with a visceral reaction. This had been a successful, genius of a man, yet he had succumb to his darkness.
Throughout history, there have been plenty of great people that suffered from depression. Winston Churchill commonly referred to his depression as his “black dog“, Abraham Lincoln, Buzz Aldridge, Marlon Brando, Beethoven, Sir Issac Newton, Charles Dickens, all suffered from depression. In recent history, depression has been linked to higher intelligence. In an article on the “How Stuff Works” website titled “Is there a link between intelligence and mental illness?” it is mentioned that grade A students are 4 times likely to develop bi-polar disorder and another study found that artists, authors, and scientists had a propensity of developing mental illness.
When I started what would become the fight for not only my life, but also my sanity, I sought help. I read every book I could find in understanding what I was going through, documented my results, did everything I could to get off my meds permanently, and reclaim my life. It’s not easy, but you have to want it more than feeling perpetually exiled in your own emotions. Eventually religion was one of the things that helped me through the most, deciding to think positively rather than negatively, even if it meant forcing myself to do so, and surrounding myself with the right minded people. If you want your life to change, you have to be willing to do something you’ve never done before, and be okay with being uncomfortable.
It boils down to this. If you’re going through something of this caliber, you’re brilliant. There’s no other way to say it. And as such, it is on you to be stronger than the darkness, which means getting help, focusing on the positive, with the end goal of making your life better. Do I sometimes have moments when darkness hits? Yes. Do I let it take over? NO. I’m in no way saying it’s easy, but let’s face it, some of the best things in life aren’t always going to be easy, but they are worth it in the end.
If you’re going through depression, please reach out to a specialist for help. And if you’re thinking about the worst, please look up the 24-hour crisis hotlines in your area. If you’re in New York, you can call The Samaritans hotline at 212.673.3000.
Understand, when you extinguish your light, you extinguish it not just for you, but for those your light would have touched.