I was saddened by the news this week that Robin Williams died at the age of 63 of an apparent suicide. Being that I am 63 years old myself, I found this particularly troubling. 63 is still pretty young (at least in my book)
My wife asked me why I thought he would take his own life. After all….he had fame, fortune….and the world by the tail. Well, fame and fortune are great, but they don’t fill the void inside that we all have.
Many comics have died tragically: Lenny Bruce, Chris Farley, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Andy Kaufman, Sam Kinison, John Candy, Phil Hartman, Bernie Mac, Bob Crane, Richard Prior, and Bill Hicks….just to name a few. So many of them suffered from depression, which was complicated often by drug and alcohol abuse. Some died of natural causes, and some by their own hand. The thing they all seem to share is depression and substance abuse. So tragic. Such a waste of talent and life.
How can anyone really understand what is going on in the mind of someone who is depressed? Pretty hard to fathom the pain and anxiety that would lead someone to end it all….especially when they “have it all” by the world’s standards. But….that is what we are left to sort out.
These comedians had the ability to make us laugh, and yet inside….there were bitter tears that they ultimately could not deal with; wounds that would not heal. I happen to have a pretty quick wit myself, and know firsthand that much of what I can joke about is anchored in some pain. The difference for me is that I have not allowed the pain to dwell inside and fester, and I have not become addicted to drugs and alcohol. Have I thought about it? Yes….but thank God I have never let myself get so far down that bottom starts to look like up.
If you are struggling with the storms of life, here are some things that can help you through:
- If you are depressed about something and can’t seem to shake it off, consider getting some help…professional help if need be. The first step to beating depression is admitting you are depressed!
- Have two or three people in your life that are truth tellers. They will not tell you what you WANT to hear. They will tell you what you NEED to hear. They won’t allow you to wallow in your self-pity very long.
- Put a short time limit on how long you will allow yourself to worry about something. It is understandable and human nature to worry….just don’t live there. Worry does no good whatsoever. It changes nothing for the good, and much of the time the things we worry about never happen anyway!
- Don’t rely on alcohol or drugs to get you through the pain. That will only deepen the depression and make things look worse than they are.
- I have found that when I am feeling beat up by the circumstances of life, that is a great time to show my faith in God. It is easy to praise God when the bank account is overflowing, everyone loves you, and life is going your way. It is quite different when the storms are beating you to a pulp and you are literally drowning. That, more than any other time is when you need to praise God. I know that sounds absurd, but the Bible says that is what faith is all about….trusting God when you can’t see the next step to take. Praise Him…trust Him….and see what He does as a result.
When you are at the end of your rope, God is there for you….to hold you, catch you, and guide you. He does not promise us a storm-free life. What He does promise us is to be with us always, and help us navigate the storms.
May God give you Shalom in the storms that you face.