Yes, well those two have absolutely nothing in common, but I felt compelled to write about both, because one has been on my heart for many, many days now and the other was just brought to my attention this evening before dinner when my husband announced the shocking revelation that Robin Williams had potentially committed suicide.
I'll tackle Robin Williams first. It was very poignant that Mark Hart, the Bible Geek in our Catholic faith, pointed out on Facebook that in the movie, Dead Poet's Society, Robin Williams quoted Thoreau, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." Isn't that quote surreal for what just potentially happened? I had read that he had struggled with depression.
As someone who too, struggles with depression (and has taken anxiety medicines and anti-depression medications) I can relate to that quote completely. I am someone who keeps internal struggles mostly to myself, or tries to make jokes about these things. The last 10 weeks of my life-have been a very dark, very deep, troubling, time in my life. I was at a very bad place. Nothing seemed to bring me any hope. I truly believe that at times, I am a very faith filled person- but even my faith seemed a million miles away. And really, that's what depression feels like. Like everything that can help you is light years away from you and nothing can really help at all- nothing. It's the lowest of lowest feelings, the despair at times is almost stifling. Nearly choking the air out of ones lungs as we struggle to catch our breath. It's as though the water gets deeper and deeper and nothing stops it from covering our head.
What Robin Williams struggled with, is what I believe millions (especially an extremely low rated number who don't even ADMIT they are struggling) of people struggle with on a daily basis. That whole, you don't really know what other people are battling phrase, is really true. I tried not to act depressed when I was out-which was rare, but I didn't call anyone, I didn't seek anyone out, I certainly didn't make plans for get togethers or anything social. Heavens, I could barely be social with the minions in my own home let alone people outside my little circle.
There are so many battles waging inside people and some of it self inflicted, I do believe we sometimes set the bar way too high with expectations, but some of it is hereditary. I believe in my heart that my grandfather was an alcoholic because he was depressed. Alcohol to people who are depressed is a suppressor (well, at times can be a downer and make it worse-) but people drink to avoid feeling that empty void, or they drink because they don't like themselves, or they drink because they think it will help them to forget how "miserable" they feel. It never works, and what happens is that it takes more and more and even MORE alcohol to subside the pain, the heartache, the emptiness and before we know it, alcohol is better when it's mixed with pills. Any kind of pills, narcotics work best- they numb the nerve endings and allow for an even deeper release of feelings of despair. Then there is the hard core stuff- like what Mr. Williams even admitted to having a problem with-cocaine.
Unfortunately, like my grandfather and others, this never works. And in reality, only alienates the person who is in such depression further from anyone else. I'm not saying Robin Williams was an alcoholic or an abuser of drugs (he had admitted he had addictions and even spent time in rehab places) but depression can and does lead to abuses if not treated early.
It's a tragedy. Did Mr. Williams know just how much people loved him? I'm guessing he knew to an extent- but clearly, it didn't help me, so if he was even deeper in a depression, it wouldn't affect him at all. I know my friends love me, I know my family loves me, I certainly didn't dwell on suicide or anything like that, but just because I knew how they felt about me, didn't change my depression and make me jump out of bed and do cartwheels and say, "yippee! I'm cured!!!"
Depression is very real. Suicidal thoughts are very real. Feeling as though there is nothing, no one, or anything that can help, is very real. There are crisis centers and hotlines for people to call/visit if they are struggling. Mental illness is something extremely untalked about and unfortunately, misunderstood. I was humiliated when I first battled anxiety and depression. How could someone like ME struggle with this? How could someone like me have to resort to taking medicine or talking to someone? I was embarrassed, because of the stigma associated with it for so long. I'm crazy, I thought. I am now officially mentally unstable.
Well, a lot of people are and it's in the very real sense of the word, not just me saying my kids are making me mentally unstable because they keep leaving their dirty clothes everywhere. It's very real and many, many people suffer from it....
Unfortunately, I don't think there is a "cure" for depression. There is definitely medicine that can help control it. I have tried it, too. I do know if it ever gets to the point of no turning around, I can seek medical assistance again. I certainly try to eat very healthy, and take extra vitamin supplements that are known to help "perk" a person up. I try to sit outside in the sun for a little bit when I can with zero sunscreen on (please don't tell my dermatologist-he needs no ammo for my skin!!!)because I swear it makes me feel better, I take extra D as well because the sun is not always around in the snow land I live in.... I also talk to my husband. I tell him when things are getting very dark for me and he's learned to listen and not try to immediately "fix" what's going wrong with me. He still tells me to get out and visit my friends because he knows that's the best medicine I can take, but he also listens and he prays in earnest for me. He is a sincere person with his faith. He prays for me every day. It makes me fall in love with him all over every time I think about how much he loves me and perhaps, that's the best medicine during those darkest times when things seem a million miles out of my reach. His love lifts me up and reminds me that there is a Higher Power who is loving me even more..... which brings me to my second thought....
Unless you're living under a rock, which perhaps there are people out there who are, people have to be aware now of what is happening in Iraq and Syria. There is an extremist group- Jihadists, who call themselves ISIS. ISIS stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham. Now I suppose they go by IS. They are trying to form an independent state in both Syria and Iraq involving several areas- such as the third largest city in Iraq, Mosul. They have basically taken over Mosul. So the are extremely dangerous. Taking over this city, they also took over the banks, which some of estimated as much as $400 million they have their hands on. That kind of wealth can buy lots of weapons and help in their recruitment, which people have left other countries (Australia as just one example where Khaled Sharrouf lived prior to moving to Iraq to join ISIS forces). Sharrouf has a video of his son (who I believe is 7) holding the head of Christian Iraqi with a huge smile on his face. Let the brain washing begin, eh?
This group, which is again, an extremist Islam group, believes there is only one acceptable religion and that all others are infidels. They intend to either convert these other Christians and other groups such as the Yezidis. They have driven out and killed so many people and tortured ones that are still there. It's horrible and the fact that it's been going on and the rest of the world was just watching, and waiting for Iraq to "help itself" was almost maddening!
These Christians in countries like Iraq and Syria and even other middle eastern countries, have been seriously persecuted for many years now, but the violence is escalating. The silence of the media is deafening and we are relying on religious orders and religious news (which have little money to project to the rest of the world the problems) to give us the latest. So some of the information we're receiving is skewed. Some of have said there are beheadings, while others agencies have reported it's false. Some of have said the Christians who paid the stiff fines are being killed, some have said it's false- they are living there and not being chased out. I find that incredibly hard to believe that they are allowed to stay and live harmoniously among a group of extremists who are determined to wipe out anyone (in our entire world mind you-) who is not pledging an oath to Islam. That's how the Islamic extremists work. In case anyone wants to know- in my husbands office (he used to deal directly with terrorists and it is a tough job to convict people who haven't committed a crime yet- but it's even tougher to make sure they don't commit a crime because their crimes usually involve the destruction and loss of large amounts of people).
Anyway- back on track, he used to have in his office a world map that a group of Islamic Extremists created showing where their presence was in the world, where they "ran" a particular area (for example, Iraq was in black or red-whichever represented they had total control) and green were the areas that they would soon one day control. Or maybe the colors were the other way around-regardless-you follow me, right?) Guess what? The entire map was covered with their colors. Including North America. They want total control. Everywhere.
Now, people are probably saying, come on crazycatholicmomma, they can't take control of an entire world.....
Well, people didn't think Hitler would do what he did either. But he did. Matter of fact, I remember reading accounts of about his political reign and you wouldn't think he could do what he did. And if you ever read anything about the Genocide in Rowanda (an excellent book is called, Left to Tell by Immaculee Illbagiza) you would find it hard to believe that our world sat and watched how thousands of Tutsi people were killed, mamed, beheaded, dismembered by the Hutu tribe. She even speaks about how her people at first waited and prayed for anyone outside of Rowanda to send help. They just knew someone would come. But it took until almost the bitter end for anyone to decide to take military action. It really is a horrible story to read, but worth reading to see how easy it is for people to believe another group can be convinced they are not worthy of living. Shocking really.
To believe that an extremist group can not grow and become impossible to stop should not be considered far fetched. Look at what has happened in Iraq so far. And don't think there aren't people leaving other countries to go fight for this cause. And don't think there aren't groups silently placed in our countries training for such things. My husband has worked this stuff. It's real. Fortunately, so far, we've stayed someone ahead of the game. But there are people who want the world to believe a certain way, and will go to extreme (hmmmm, hence extremist title?) to convince people to do so.
So, easing off my soap box. We must not discount every story we here of these terrorists. They have no feeling for anyone who doesn't conform. They don't like us. It's very real and I'm not living in some fairy scary land trying to make everyone paranoid. It's a very real desire to convert everyone to their way of life.
We must pray and we must be aware of everything. Everywhere....