“Our Western culture has produced a society suffering from epidemic loneliness and self-hatred.” – Jack Kornfield in Bringing Home the Dharma
The news of Robin Williams’ death shocked me on one hand and was not surprising on the other. It made me recall the days that I suffered from depression myself and what a dark time that was in my life.
I found myself in the middle of Central Park in New York city at 9:30am not quite sure how I had gotten there or how long I had been there. Although I had consistently exhibited signs that something was wrong that was the first time that it was clear that I was experiencing something more than being “down.”
For me, depression wasn’t something I talked about with my family or friends. Like so many of us, I was just told that prayer and “picking myself up” would get me through my “sadness.”
The truth was that it would take me 2 years to climb out of my depressive hole. Thankfully, I don’t think my depression rose to the clinical level, but who knows because I never went to see anyone. Instead, I went about searching for answers to the emptiness I was feeling. I read the books The Secret, A New Earth and A Return to Love over and over again. I visited Oprah.com daily. I did, in fact, go to church more regularly. And, I leaned on my closest friends and family.
I say it took 2 years, but I didn’t fully escape it until 4 years later. Still, I was lucky because my efforts worked. I am also grateful for that time as I can honestly say that I am better for it. However, everyone does not have the ability and some people truly need professional help in dealing with clinical and severe depression.
As I finished watching “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” which was preceded by “Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta” on my DVR, I immediately thought that this is exactly one of the reasons why so many of us are in darkness. From the news to our music to our television selections, we inundate ourselves with negative information. There’s no light and positivity in most of it. Just fighting, conflict, and turmoil. No one is happy and if that is what we are constantly consuming how can we possibly be.
Moreover, the focus of our capitalistic society is rooted in materialism. Work hard to get more and so forth. But, you must be under a rock if you haven’t realized that getting “things” won’t bring you joy or happiness.
Then, I thought about our obsession with social media (guilty as charged) and the sadness that it can create. Watching other people with “perfect bodies,” “perfect lives” that are living the “fabulous life” can be overwhelming. The truth is, most people are just perpetrating. But it’s difficult not to compare yourself to the “Social Media Joneses.”
Then, I realized I had to end my night by feeding my spirit something positive. I turned to a recorded “Super Soul Sunday” episode on OWN with Oprah and, author/Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfield. It was exactly the prescription my soul needed. It further confirmed what I had been thinking since hearing the news about Robin Williams.
Quoting Anne Lammot, Jack said, “My mind is like a bad neighborhood. I don’t want to go there alone.” It blew me away because my depression stemmed from rampant insecure thoughts of inadequacy, anxiousness about the future and regret about my past. My thoughts had doomed me and for the longest time I could not get control of them.
After watching SSS, I resigned myself to do even better than I had been doing. I surveyed the times when I felt the best and it’s when I consumed information that gave me hope and made me feel powerful. There’s so much wrong with the world and true, we can’t bury our heads in the sand, but there has to be a limit to our consumption of the bad stuff.
Robin Williams was one of my favorite actors. He made me laugh in countless shows and films. He was a master and I will miss his presence in the world. I don’t want to lose another person because the world is full of such darkness. So many of us are alone even with many people around us.
Depression is real. It is even more of an epidemic within the state of our current society. But, I am hopeful that we can make it better. First, start with yourself. Change what you allow in your mind space. Then, check on the people you love. They may just need an encouraging word, listening ear or they may need some professional help. Whatever it is – let’s all do what we can to get out of our collective depression and state of darkness.
Wishing you LOVE & CEASELESS JOY!