Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Life Worth Living

Since Robin Williams' tragic suicide (as if there's another kind...) two days ago, social media -- all media, I guess -- has been inundated with tributes but also with pleas for an increased awareness of the issues surrounding depression and other forms of mental illness. I've also seen a lot of people speaking frankly about their own experiences with depression. This is a positive outcome from an immensely negative event. 

We lost a family member in the same way in the same week.

It wasn't national news. But it did cause our family circle to tighten a little bit -- to view things a little differently -- to grow as we grieve.

I have read many of these tributes and revelations and have been tempted to write one of my own, but feared that I had nothing to add to the conversation -- that it has all been said in the last two days, and far more eloquently than I could manage.

Then I remembered something from the beginning of my daughter's battle with the dementors (she'll appreciate that reference) -- when we were just beginning to fight the fight. I have seen a lot of people post links to the suicide prevention helpline. I have even seen at least one person mention that getting help can be hard, but it's worth it. We can certainly verify that. What I haven't seen discussed is the way people react.

I lost friends when I sought treatment for my daughter. 

I was judged harshly for trusting big pharma and was told that all she needed was unconditional love -- that by seeking treatment and help, I was essentially trying to change who she was. Just let her be. Just love her. She'll work it out. They implied that seeking help would make me a bad parent and a worse person. 

Other factions told me that she just needed tighter boundaries. That she needed more discipline. If any kid of theirs pulled a stunt like that... 

I was too demanding. 

I wasn't demanding enough.

I'm not going to lie -- I second guessed myself. Constantly.

But ultimately I continued to seek help. I dedicated myself to it. 

I left a job I loved because I couldn't do it well and continue to give my child what she needed.

I lost friends.

But I have my daughter -- and she is healing. She is well. 

So I guess that's what I want to add to the conversation. Depression cannot be loved away. (Nor can it be beaten out of someone, although that seems sort of like a no-brainer to me -- but a lot of people continue to entertain the notion...) I wish it could, but that's just not the way this particular beasty works. It takes hard work and diligence and sacrifice. 

Worth it.

We have worked our way through several hospitalizations, many meds and med combinations, many therapists, a few psychiatrists and many psychologists. It has been all-consuming.

Worth it.

When she had her very first meeting with her current counselor, the counselor told Tom and I, "This is not suicide prevention. We can't prevent suicide. If she really wants to kill herself, nothing you or I or any friend or any boy can say or do will stop her. We can't prevent suicide. What we can do is teach her to have a life worth living."

She is learning that.

I am learning, too.

I lost friends. 

I lost my source of income and a chunk of my external sense of self. 

It's a lesson that comes with a cost.

Worth it.

So I guess that's what I want to bring to the conversation. Right now the climate is very encouraging. Get help. And I want to underline that. But I also want to warn you that the world isn't always as supportive as it's been the last couple days, but it's worth it to pursue every avenue of help that is available. For you. For your loved ones.


Maybe we can love it away. 

Maybe we just need to reframe our ideas about love.


Heather said...

Hi Tammy! I'm Heather and I was just wondering if you could answer a quick question about your blog! My email is Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com :-)

Joanna Jenkins said...

Hi Tammy,

I've been MIA for a while trying to catch up with life and am just getting back into the blog swing of things again. You are one of my first stops.

I am terribly sorry you lost a loved one in such a tragic way. It is heartbreaking and so very sad.

And Robin Williams-- wow, the dialogue his death created and the depression awareness has been interesting to watch and hear. On one hand it's an extremely important conversation to have and to understand. On the other hand there are so many asshats out there that have no idea what they're talking about that it makes me wanna holler.

I too am baffled that people think they have some magical power that can cause a person to "snap out of depression" whether it's beating them into submission or loving them too much or too little.

I also want to scream when uninformed people say "just be happy" or "talk to someone if you're sad" as if the conversation is so easy/simple or it's a switch to flip for a depressed person. Grrr.

The lack of understanding of emotional and mental issues is startling.

I have unkind words for the friends you lost and the people who gave you a bad time. It's shameful.

But I take my hat off to you, Tammy, for seeing, hearing, educating yourself and acting, no matter the price-- to help your daughter. It's. So. Damn. Hard! And you did it. Successfully. And your daughter is healing.

And that's fantastic! And I'm really proud of you and your daughter and your family.

I know the hospital, medication, doctors and everything that goes with depression drill-- I know a few in the thick of it right now. I pray for them as I pray for you as we all just keep pounding away one baby step at a time because like you said--

Worth it.

Big, big hugs.
xo jj

Schnitzel_Republic said...

A blog well written.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Tammy, I didn't see this when you posted it but I want to say I am sorry for what you are going through and hopeful that your daughter will indeed continue to create a life she loves. I don't love Big Pharma either, but I need some of their products in order to cope with Big Depression. Wishing you the best.

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