I’m not one for celebrity gossip.
For the most part, I’m content to let the stars of Hollywood live out their drama in their own world of fame. There are very few actors whose lives I pay attention to, or whose deaths I truly mourn.
Robin Williams is one of the them.
And tonight I am saddened. I am grieved by the death of a man who made his living through his expression of joy and laughter, who lived with a kindness and dignity that is greatly admired.
I mourn a man who struggled with the massive burden of depression so deep that he simply could not find a way out, and took his own life.
He seemed so happy! She had so much to live for. How could he…how could she…why?
To the healthy, suicide makes no sense. To those on the outside of the intense pain and emptiness, the idea of ending one’s own life is horrific. This is as it should be.
But to those who have experienced that darkness and the feeling of unending despair, suicide can appear like the only way out of the pain.
Depression is a terrible illness that shows up in many ways. Some struggle with it their entire life, and for others depression manifests itself after a massive life change or trauma. Depression can be brought on by pregnancy or medical conditions.
Contrary to what many believe, your life can appear perfect and you can still be depressed.
You can be wealthy and still struggle with what Winston Churchill famously termed his “black dog”. You can have fame and fortune and love and admiration, and take your life. Mr. Williams did. While the world loved and saw a man full of talent and life, an actor whose work brought joy and tears and inspiration and understanding, he had a pain that was unbearable and unexplainable.
I believe that the line separating genius and madness is thin. Those with great talent can suffer unspeakable sadness, as Mr. Williams did.
We who sit and wonder at the reason behind his death will never be satisfied, because we will never fully understand. …
But however or whenever these blue days come, it can make the entire day seem like one big long struggle to get through.
You may find yourself watching the clock, just hoping to get done with work or school, or waiting for your kids to go to bed, or waiting for your partner to come home. Time seems to drag on and on. Your energy may be lagging. It’s not depression as much as just feeling out of sorts.
There are countless ways to break out of that blue space. We’ve chosen 10 of our favorites.
The next time you have difficulty getting out of bed or you feel blah and low, try a couple of them out. We’d love to hear what you think.
The story goes that if you want to catch a monkey, you put a hole in a coconut, and inside the hole you put some nuts or fruit. You tie the coconut to a tree and wait.
A hungry monkey will put his hand down the hole and grab the fruit or nuts in his fist. When he attempts to take his fist out of the hole, he finds that his fist is too big.
The legend states that the monkey becomes trapped, not because of the coconut, but because of his unwillingness to let go.
The metaphorical coconut trap is something that everyone deals with.
Do you hold on to times people have hurt you in the past? Are your feelings still hurt from painful words that were said to you? Or do you continue to agonize over times when you have messed up? Is letting go of your own mistakes difficult?
There are two people in a row boat, each one with an oar. One person feels hurt or angry, and they stop a rowing, while their partner keeps at it.
The boat moves in a circle, going nowhere.
The anger, frustration, and pain people experience keeps them from working together to move forward.
These tightly kept feelings don’t do any good. They don’t change the past, and when acted upon they do not change anyone else.
They merely keep you stuck.
Another trap that keeps people from feeling free is regret over what they did or didn’t do in life.
It’s like a cage, where they feel like they’re interacting with the world, but they’re being held back. It may feel safe to hide under anger or resentment. But the reality is that this cage keeps a person from participating in and enjoying life.
Most people don’t even realize what it is that’s keeping them from moving forward.
They may blame their unhappiness on their bad luck or how other people treated them. Or perhaps they may understand their own role in the situation. They understand by holding on to their anger and hurt is like poison. …
Everyone has one.
Most people want to shut up, destroy, annihilate, or otherwise quiet that voice in their head that says things like, that was a stupid thing to say, or you look so fat today, you’re dumb, you’ll never get anywhere in life. I’m sure you can add your own.
Your inner critic is the voice that monitors your every act, word, and thought.
When it’s out of control, your inner critic can rule your life and ruin your self esteem. It can fill your mind with fears and worse case scenarios.
But what would happen if instead of trying to shut your inner critic up, you would listen to it? I don’t mean listen as in taking its words as true. I mean listen as hear what it’s saying, think about it, and then make your own decision whether or not to believe it.
What would it be like if you viewed your inner critic not in the sense of negative critical messages that should be dismissed, but as a cautious voice that can be helpful if its understood?
How it works is this; your inner critic makes a remark like, “You’re going to mess up this presentation.” So instead of just dwelling on the negative thinking and giving it power, you spend a couple of minutes critically thinking about it. How would I mess up the performance? Is that something that could realistically happen? If so, what can I do to fix it?
You can view your inner critic as a negative force weighing down on you, or it can be a tool that you use to discern your strengths and weaknesses.
There are two crucial points here.
The first is that your inner critic is neither good nor bad. It points out your insecurities, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s kind of like a coach. Sometimes it can have valid points, and sometimes it makes mountains out of mole hills.
The second is that the more thought and attention you give to a particular idea or internal message, the more power you imbue it with. Dwelling or ruminating on fears is draining …
“Jessica” (pseudonym) was 18 years old when she enlisted in the Army. She was trained as a mechanic, and enjoyed what she did.
The Army provided her the family she didn’t have at home and a sense of belonging and stability. At the time, the United States was not engaged in a war. A year later, this would change.
Jessica was sent to Afghanistan. While there, she was injured when the truck she was driving hit an IED. After her body healed, and she continued in her unit. Like all service people who serve in a war, Jessica saw and experienced many horrific things.
After her time in Afghanistan ended and she was back in the US, Jessica’s body wasn’t the same. She had an undiagnosed TBI (traumatic brain injury) from the IED. She had intense mood swings. She couldn’t concentrate. She had nightmares nearly every night.
These were all problems that Jessica felt like she could talk about with other veterans, friends and family. Things like TBI and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) have become well known and understood.
What Jessica didn’t feel like she could talk about was the rape by her commanding officer, the very person in the chain of command she was expected to report sexual assault to, and who she looked up to like a father.
When I first became a bird owner, I noticed that my cockatiel Sunshine would only eat when someone was near her.
Most birds are flock animals; they rely on the members of their community for companionship, safety, and parenting.
In the wild, Sunshine would only eat with her flock members there to watch out for her.
Like many other animals, humans have an inborn need for community that is crucial to not only our survival but also to our mental health and happiness.
Not everyone needs 40 friends, but everyone needs someone they can rely on to help them through the harshness of life.
WHAT KEEPS US FROM BEING CONNECTED TO OTHERS?
There is a lot of relationship advice out there; friends, family, and coworkers are willing and eager to share their thoughts.
Over the years, I’ve heard and read some awful pieces of advice.
Here are the worst of them.
10. If you love her enough, you can get her to change.
9. No one will ever love you as much as he does.
I pulled into a gas station and asked if they would take a check. Nope.
How about a credit card number phoned in from my husband? Nope.
My random gift cards were worthless here. I was worried.
I was desperate. I went back to my car where my young daughter sat and asked her if I could borrow the money in her coin purse. She had $2.38.
Digging through the crevices and corners of my car yielded another $1.03. I went inside and placed the pile of change in front of the cashier. The total amount was $19.41, a little less than 5 gallons of gas.
In my mind I was going through everything that had gone wrong. Why did I forget my credit card? Do hotels take checks from out of state? Do restaurants? What would I feed my daughter? Where would we sleep? How could I be so stupid???
I was going full force into negative thinking. I finally realized that my thoughts weren’t doing me any good at all. In fact, they were harmful. With my mind full of what if’s, there was no room or energy for realistic problem solving.
Once I slowed down I realized that my daughter wouldn’t starve, I could find a way to get some cash back from a store, and that I was resourceful enough to deal with this situation.
I did some mental arithmetic and discovered that I could keep my miles per gallon quite high if I used cruise control and didn’t rush. At 42 miles per gallon or more, I could possibly make it. And if I didn’t, I would be close enough to have someone come and get us.
Negative thoughts often sneak up when people are stressed, anxious, or depressed. And once they take root, they can impede more helpful, critical, and logical thinking.
Here are 5 simple and easy ways to manage negative thoughts when they appear.
Do you ever wonder why other people are happy, and you’re not?
The good news is that being happy is more of a choice than you might think.
Happiness doesn’t have to be an elusive idea that only some fortunate people are able to obtain. Here are seven simple things you can do to increase your happiness.
If you’re a parent with a mental illness, or if someone in your family is mentally ill, you may struggle with how to talk about it with your children. You may feel embarrassed or even ashamed about your disease.
Even thought it can be difficult, it’s important to create a safe space for kids to hear and ask questions about the illness that affects you or your partner.
Here are five tips to help you get started.