Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tears of a Clown…Take Heart!

So much is being circulated on the Internet following the sad suicidal death of Robin Williams on this past Monday.  It is indeed a sad day when a man who brought light moments and hysterical laughter to so many would choose to end his own life, to succumb the mind-numbing, heartbreaking, downward spiraling thought processes that his own mental illness would lead to.


It is reported that he has battled addictions, depression, and more specifically bipolar disorder for a very long time now.  It just breaks my heart that this man who was loved by so many, and who, by all accounts, was adored by his own children, would make such a choice to take his own life. Leaving behind him a wake of grief and pain. This man who spent the majority of his own life making others laugh was indeed riddled by a deep inner sadness.

The words, 'tears of a clown, when there's no one around' come to mind when I contemplate the life of this man.  I have read many quotes attributed to Robin, but I believe the following quote to be most telling:
 I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone--it's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone. 
Perhaps it was not really the people around him that made him feel alone but his own inner struggles with depression. Feeling alone, even when surrounded by friends and family can be the hardest thing to deal with because by all accounts, that emptiness, the deep dark hole, should not exist.  But sadly, it does for many people who deal with depression.

I've struggled with how to deal with the issue of depression in this post.  I'm neither a licensed counselor nor a psychologist…so I will not presume to try and figure out what exactly went wrong in this man's life to cause him to take his own life.  I have not personally dealt with serious depression myself so I cannot speak from the standpoint of one who has 'been there'.

But I have walked alongside those who have...

As a lay counselor, I have learned that depression can be excruciatingly painful. It impacts not only the one depressed but family members and friends, as well. It can be debilitating to the point of not being able to do the things we all take for granted, like getting out of bed, taking and shower…just your normal workday can seem insurmountable. Depression is a multifaceted and complex issue, and yes there can be chemical imbalances at play, but it is usually a symptom of a deeper issue.

Depression has many origins, so it is important to determine all of the contributing factors before trying to find a solution. And please know that there is a solution. There is a way to cope with this debilitating condition.  Many have faced the source, whether physical, or emotional, or inward emotional scars and pain and gone through the journey of the dark night of their own soul and have survived. Taking your life is not an answer to the pain and isolation you may be experiencing.

There are entire books written on this and there is a complex relationship between the spiritual life and psychological health. I cannot address such issues in depth in this article. But I will say that dealing with depression as if it is only a chemical imbalance can be a deadly mistake. The mind, body, and spirit need to be addressed if an individual is suffering from severe depression.

The answers are complex, but the deepest issues of our heart and soul can be answered from God's word.  True joy can be found in a real, deep, and abiding relationship with God. That is not to say that people who are Christians do not struggle with depression. Some do. But the answers to our deepest longings can be found in Him.

Joy is not a condition of the heart that is brought about by the perfect circumstances in life. Joy is the hope in the One who is our salvation, our hope, and our grace, in spite of the pains, the wounds that we attain in this life on earth.  Joy comes about when we allow those feelings of anxiousness, and fear turn us to God, remembering His goodness, even when our world seems to be falling apart; trusting the One who can bring us through the storms of life. Faith becomes even more of a reality when you learn to trust in Him, knowing that you are not alone. God is with you. He knows your thoughts and every intimate detail of your heart and soul…and He loves you. He is present even when you don't 'feel' His presence.

I don't believe that there is ONE approach to dealing with this issue. There needs to be a balance. You cannot just deal with the physical brain and ignore the heart issues. As I have already stated, there needs to be a multifaceted approach…mind, body, and spirit.

And then there's this…people who commit suicide are still making a choice. Yes, their judgment has most definitely been clouded by some kind of circumstances that have led to a depressed state of mind. But there are many who have dealt with depression and are still alive today. So if you are in the throws of depression please understand that your answer is not in taking your life.  That will only lead to pain in the lives of your family and friends.

You do have a choice…so make it the right one. Get help. Seek out a good licensed counselor. Tell God about your sufferings…He already knows everything about you. Giving voice to your pain and anguish to God will help. Open your Bible and read from its pages. Read the Psalms…David expresses every kind of emotional pain and turmoil imaginable. Memorize Psalm 130…in it David begins with expressions of despair but by the end of the psalm, we see despair replaced by hope.  The Word of God is not a bunch of dead letters on a page but is living and active and contains the power to bring your spirit alive and in alignment with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  Allow it to be the salve that your spirit needs.

We live in a fallen world.  The enemy of our soul wants to destroy us by whatever means he can. He wants us to think that the fallen condition of this world is all there is…but he is a liar!

There is so much more…both in this life and the life to come for those who have chosen to accept the free gift of God's grace through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ. However, even Jesus told us that we would have trials in this world. But He also left us with the promise of His peace…a peace that is beyond explanation in light of some of the trials, and temptations that we face. He tells us this in John 16:33:
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

My prayer is that you will allow the love and peace of Christ dwell in your hearts. Take heart and don't give up. You, who are suffering the throes of depression today, will someday have the opportunity to share with others your journey through depression and bring hope and the light of Christ's love to them.


There is a time…yet to come when God Himself will wipe away every tear. There will be a place of joy...pure joy, which cannot be diminished.  And in that place, you will take hold of the nail-scarred hand.  The very hand of the One whose unconditional, sacrificial love, and grace brought you through the raging waters to this place of calm and eternal joy and peace.

Hang onto the hope that is found in Him.







Update: A Reader's Response

Resources:

The American Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-TALK(8255)

Happiness Is a Choice:The Symptoms, Causes, and Cures of Depression, Frank Minirth, M.D. & Paul Meier, M.D. 


Related Articles:


Matt Walsh article on Robin William's death by suicide. 

What the Church Needs to Know About Suicide & Mental Health, Ann Voskamp

13 comments:

  1. Amen... soon true.. I know before I could Even Begin to battle my depression, I had to put my life and mindset in His hands...mind body and soul and strive everyday to stay in perfect balance with Him..i stand on His Word His promises "my go to verse" is 1 Tim 1:7 God has NOT given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of Power, Love, and a SOUND MIND

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    1. I know that you went through it. I appreciate your commenting and sharing! Such a great verse/promise to cling to when we are in the midst of trials of any kind. I love you, sis!!

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  2. Beautifully written and filled with hope!

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    1. Thank you friend! I'm so glad you stopped by for a visit!

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  3. Awesome post reflecting your beautiful heart. The only point that I MIGHT disagree with is that there is always a choice. Well not exactly that ... There's always a choice. I'm just not sure if a broken mind and spirit is always able to recognize the options and make the best choice. Suicide isn't necessarily a choice between life and death. It is more of a fight or flight response ... with no strength left to fight! I have come perilously close to that place several times over the past year. Fortunately I have had access to people, with loving hearts, who would stand beside me and hold me up when my strength was gone. Perhaps Robin was truly alone on a particularly dark night of the soul?

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    1. I believe that if a person begins to 'train' their brain to realize that suicide is the wrong choice when they are in earlier stages of depression then even in the most muddled thinking they will be most likely not to make the decision to take their life. I'm not saying that they are clearly thinking when they take their life. It's like emergency preparedness plans…if we treat depression with the respect that is needed…take away the stigmas then people will more likely reach out to get help in the early stages. It is during this time that it is important to train the brain the right and wrong response to despondence. This is not the best analogy, but think of it like earthquake or any other preparedness. You don't wait till the emergency hits and then expect to know what to do…because you will be in panic mode and you won't be thinking clearly. But if you prepare ahead of time then the brain will go into autopilot when you can't think clearly during the emergency and will automatically do what is needed…the fight or flight response has been trained which response is appropriate for that situation. I am not saying in any way…that this is fool proof. But I have known some who came perilously close to taking their lives, choose not to…because something in them just wouldn't let them take that step. Most of the time that something was the fact that they had been taught that God had a better way. Does that all even make sense? I think that it is important to make sure people realize that suicide is never a solution or an escape. When the sanctity of life has lost it's importance in a society, we begin to see more and more suicides. You know that I love you friend and that you have and will continue to be in my prayers. :-)

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    2. I don't disagree with you. But in the moment it can feel more standing in a blazing fire with someone telling you to wait for the coming water. Or drowning and hearing a command to not grab a rope that appears to be the only way out.

      I KNOW that suicide is wrong. It denies that grace can and will redeem the current painful situation. I have determined to not make that choice and so I reach out when the pain is too much for me. (The preparation that you speak of. ) I just don't think that every broken spirit has loving people surrounding them. Nor do they all know Jesus without whom there is no hope!

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    3. My other thought is that (I know this is not your intent) all the assertions that suicide is always a choice are being seen by the survivors ... not the depressed individual. In a season during which the loved ones need comfort ... they are subjected to the opinions of others that their loved one made a bad choice, sinned, rejected grace, etc.

      And that I do have personal experience with as a close family member took her own life. Do I think she made a good choice? No. I just don't know if she made a choice. I think she was simply trying to escape the flames!

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  4. I know, in my head, that when we know Jesus we are never truly alone. My heart has not always been able to acknowledge that truth.

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    1. Beth, I know it helps to know the truth of God's word, that He will never leave you nor forsake you, when you cannot feel His presence or 'see' Him through the tears and emotional pain. Still, I know, the aching is still there. Please continue to trust, as I know you do, that God is right there with you. He holds your tears in a bottle, that's how precious you are to him! (Psalm 56:8). I wrote this in a post a while back. "Sometimes our story needs to endure the winter…to lie dormant before it is ready to burst forth as the buds in spring."(http://www.gayidle.com/2013/11/hope-awaitsa-story-yet-to-be-unfold.html) I know that you are in the 'winter of your discontent' at the moment…but winter never lasts forever. Spring is coming sweet friend. Just hang on through this winter. Let this be a time to rest, saturate yourself in the Word and let His words minister to your pain. Know that you have so many people who love you and truly do care about you. I am one of them. Hang in there my friend. I know that God is transforming you out of that cocoon into the beautiful butterfly that He meant for you to become all along!

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  5. I appreciate what you expressed so well in this post, Gay. Blessings!

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    1. Deborah, Thank you for coming by and for your kind and encouraging words.

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blessings,
Gay