It’s time to break the silence. Here’s a little something I wrote a long time ago…March 10th, 1995 to be exact…
A silent voice that goes unheard
begs for help without a word
Filled with hope that someone cares
enough to lighten this cross she bears
Searching for that reason to live,
pleading for answers that He won’t give
Confusion and loneliness, partners in crime,
stealing her smile and ending her time…
A silent voice echoes but cannot be heard-
the pain in her eyes proclaimed her last word.
I stood as a Festival princess a few months after this “poem” was written, reciting this for my talent portion, and dedicated it to my cousin, Vesta, who took her own life at the age of 16- a death that still haunts my family. I allowed my family to believe that I wrote it for her…and perhaps, in part, it was. Truth, however, is that I have battled “the black dog” (chronic depression) for more than half of my life. At one point in my life this was my “note”. *GASP!*
It wasn’t until a counseling session in 2008, with the confirmation of the social worker/counselor I was seeing, that I was willing to accept/admit OUT LOUD, for another person to hear it, that I felt I had been battling depression for many years. His affirmation slowly helped me find my voice. The only family member (aside from my husband of course) that I’ve discussed this with is my brother Kevin. I’ve learned/realized, in the past few years, that mental illness runs rampant in my family and that it is nothing to be ashamed of. In January of 2013, during one of our “Let Them Be Kids” interviews for the Park, I admitted before a group of “strangers” that I’ve battled depression most of my life and that my involvement with the Park project was a form of therapy for me. It was a big step for me. When things slowed down after Build Day I began struggling again… and I quickly realized that I need to keep myself busy, working on improving my own life and trying to make things better for others to keep that black cloud away.
I began walking regularly back in June. It has been a challenge as I suffer with chronic back, neck, and joint pain that causes headaches and leaves me physically feeling crappy a lot of the time… but my boys need a healthy mama and I am determined to be around for a long while for them. My walks are not only helping to increase my physical endurance and strength, but my alone time spent reflecting has been a form of therapy as well. Each walk/run leaves me feeling a little stronger…a little more empowered. I’ve had things said to me, and have had things happen to me, in my life that would’ve broken the strongest of hearts…but I continue to rise up from my struggles and gain power from them.
This morning’s walk was dedicated to Robin Williams…who couldn’t out-run his black dog. My heart physically hurt last night after reading the news online that he took his own life. I know what that pain is like. My heart literally aches for his family and friends left behind. I thought of doing that to my family once (or twice…or countless times). I didn’t want to hurt them, but didn’t know how to keep going. Thankfully I have found my way out of the dark tunnel each time. I read several status updates where people commented that it was beyond their comprehension how someone so full of life and fun and comedy could take his own life…how well he could hide his demons behind a mask of laughter. For anyone who has battled this illness it’s all too clear. We wear many masks to hide the pain, the confusion, the loneliness, the shame, the guilt, the sadness, the anger, the anxiety, the stress, the isolation, the self-loathing… be thankful if it’s beyond your comprehension…it means you have never felt the indescribable soul-sucking emptiness that is depression. Think for a moment about the life he lead… Hollywood hero with an image to live up to. He likely survived as long as he did because he was able to escape behind the alter egos assigned to him in his various roles. Who was he without the mask? Tough pill to swallow that he was hurting so badly inside that he felt this was the only way to make it end, right?
We all have our demons… some of us just have a harder time battling them than others. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”… we are not alone…BREAK THE SILENCE! Thank you to the people who love me for me…unconditionally…helping me find rainbows through the rain, sunshine where only dark storm clouds once existed, and helping me battle my demons (even if you didn’t realize you were doing so).
Rest peacefully Mr. Williams, your black dog is slain. x
Please help us break the silence… share this anyway you know how. Facebook it. Tweet it. Pin it. Email it. Your share just might encourage someone to seek the support they need.