Walking around in their normal lives, smart suits, smiles with deadlines met, clients happy and colleagues supported. To look at them it is not possible to see what lies beneath the suit. What lies beneath the façade of normality is a silent, deadly and unacknowledged illness that makes everyday life, more of an effort for some.
If I had broken my leg I would have a cast on it. I would have a visible message for the world that I was injured. People would take care to walk carefully as they go about their business around me. Yet there are many facets to being human.
Unseen illnesses and disabilities are a part of being human. They are not a weakness. If anything, it is my unseen disabilities and conditions that make me strong. I don’t feel like that every day though. I am in a constant battle with an unseen demon.
Today I have learned of the very tragic death of one of the world’s most enigmatic and talented actors Robin Williams at the age of 63. Robin suffered from depression. It is reported that he has taken his own life.
Enter any office, factory or workplace and yes, they are there the sufferers of depression. Over 350 Million people worldwide suffer from depression according to the World Health Organization.
Trying, struggling to deal with this unseen illness and still maintain that façade of normality. They are not the weak one’s, the lazy one’s or the one’s malingering in the staff room gossiping.
The demon does not discriminate. It attacks the strong one’s, the clever one’s, the successful one’s. It attacks doctors, lawyers, children and the aged, the rich one’s and the poor one’s alike.
The sufferers (or I call them the fighters) are the one’s trying hard to block out the demon that is depression and switch their thoughts from themselves to the world outside of themselves.
For some however, this task is so difficult that they cannot work. For some that battle becomes too much. For some they have no support, no back up. For some even having a loving supporting family is not enough. The demon is cruel. It tortures from within making even a small task such as washing or making some food difficult.
For some the demon is so powerful that it chains them to their bed. Isolates them from their friends and makes the sunrise a powerful reminder that they have not slept all night, again.
As others wander through a life dotted with joyous intervals of weekends, nights out, celebrations and fun they are consumed with an internal battle to beat the demon just an hour at a time. It is a hard task. It is exhausting.
Does it make the sufferers of depression unable to do their job? No but it is harder. Does it make the people around them inadequate if they cannot help? No but compassion and understanding helps.
As a society we label our people with various labels all the way through life. The crazy ones, the loose canons, nut job, fighter, evangelist, book worm, recluse just a few labels that we use but is there anyone who can honestly say that they have no problems at all?
The unseen illnesses such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Heart Disease, and Mental Illness have visual effects on your body often unnoticed but the psychological impact is destructive on the soul.
As many people today say “ He had so much going for him” “What a brilliant guy” and turn their minds to mourning the loss of a wonderful human being such as Robin Williams I urge you [the reader] to look a bit closer to home today, to your office, school, work place or social gathering and have compassion for your colleagues, family and friends or even just the hobo you pass in the street. No one knows the battles we each face every day just to get through till morning.
Most days the demon is defeated, some days it gets lucky, but not today.
I am unashamed to say that I suffer from (In no particular order)
Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Heart disease and a love affair with painting and Law. You can see my artwork here
My thoughts and prayers go today to the family of Robin Williams RIP and to anyone reading this who is fighting depression or other unknown illness. You are not alone. Lets kick the butt of this demon and break the stigma and support each other, not label each other.
Depression Alliance is an online support for people battling depression. http://www.depressionalliance.org
Michelle L Hynes LL.B (Hons) DipLP
Forward Thinking Law
Lawyer, artist, writer, poet, mum, lover of painting and fighter of demons.
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