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Welcome to the DebiLyn Smith blog site. If you like what you read here, check out her website at

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Just Like Robin Williams

My heart goes out to Robin William’s family on the recent passing of someone I much admired and related to. With his seemingly manic ups and reportedly lowest of lows, I always figured we were alike:  classic ADHDers. Robin's People magazine obit labeled him with my nickname “whirling dervish” but it was hearing how he had suffered for years from depression that clinched it.

Depression is such a BIG word in so many ways. My experience with it has opened my eyes to many facets of the disorder, because that is what depression is: a DIS-ORDER; something out of the ordinary and in my case (and I suspect in Robin William's) a chemical imbalance in the brain that can swirl emotions and thoughts into a Helter Skelter world where nothing makes sense anymore. 

Depression is not a disease that you catch. It can develop after a devastating or shocking incident like the death of a loved one, a post-partem blue, the loss of health or self-image. For others of us, it is hereditary. My mother was prone to depression and as I unconsciously scratch my wrist into bloodied shreds, I often think of her with the same scabs on her arms, the highs and the lows we followed her through, the whispering about her "bad nerves." My brother committed suicide three years ago: an unfortunate result of abruptly stopping his anti-depression medication. Add to that my breast cancer ordeal through two surgeries, chemo, radiation and reconstruction and you have a recipe for despondency.

Whatever way it comes, depression can be all-consuming and it can take your life.

To the outside world, Robin Williams, comedian/actor, was as large as life. He had everything, or so it seemed. How could a man so FULL of life, turn life down?
Reports state that Robin was a happily married father of three adult children with many blessings that I am sure outweighed any troubles on the outside. A person without this infliction knows that and has that to reach out to when things get too far down. It should be enough to pull you forward.

With depression, you can know that everything in your life is amazing and still be "depressed" or feel abysmally lower than dirt for no apparent reason. Even without the physical symptoms of pain, living can be painful enough for you to want to end it.

 Let me give you some insight into a moment of depression: You are standing on a ledge between life and death with such despair and grief for yourself that the world outside of your own perceived horror is a mere haze standing behind you. At that moment, nothing else matters- not family, loved ones, thoughts of consequences, of the after math if you do leave. You do not think of the future that is still to come with its promise of rich memories, of a possible resolution to the emotional nightmare. All that matters is ending the hurt of it all: silencing the voice in your head that speaks of your worthlessness, inadequacy, of never getting anything right. You beat yourself with any image that proves what your mind tells you of your failings. You flog and writhe and commiserate until you beg for the peace you know must exist somewhere.

When a person gets to that stage, if they are not backed away from the ledge by a rational thought, by someone else recognizing their call to self-destruct, then that person might succeed in ending what might have been alleviated by counselling and medication. 

I stress the words might have.

Anti-depressants can alleviate the imbalance and a person can achieve harmony. But life doesn't always work the way it should.

Drugs and psychotherapy are well touted in their success rate but sometimes good things come with a price. Anti-depressants can also cause depression for some and like all drugs, these pills come with a list of possible side-effects. The ones that worked the best for stabilizing me were also creating havoc with my health in other areas- enough that I had to start weening off of them. This was much more difficult than I thought it would be and as I approached square one I found myself getting weepy again. Unless I am purposefully exercising, I have no energy to start something new. I have lost interest in any on-going projects, of things I used to love to do. And I am experiencing past flare-ups of temper, of unexplainable rages before crashing into the basement of despair again. It's all so unfair- to have glimpsed peacefulness only to have it taken away. Back to the drawing board. Sigh. I will get through this. 

Not everyone does.

I want to help you understand that people who are depressed need help. Professional help. A slap on the back or a reminder that things will seem better tomorrow can sink them further into oblivion. Depressed people can have blocks that prevent them from seeing things rationally. Simply being depressed depresses them further.

If you know someone who suffers from this dilemma, help them to see that they need help. Realizing one has a disorder is half the battle. The other half is seeking aid. If they're not already doing it, they need to be assessed by a health professional who can point that person in the right direction for the next steps.  
If they're a loved one, take the time to tell them what they mean to you or how they have positively impacted on your life. A hug can be an amazing gesture but at the very least, encourage them to reach out for help.

Severely depressed people can be open targets for their own missiles so you should never blame yourself if the missile manages to hit its target. You can only hope that the need to push the button is contained by whatever helps us to remain. For me it's a will to see the future. I honestly want to stay here for my children and their's. My body and mind may be failing me, but my desire to hold and smell and nurture my descendants, and my need to help reduce the world's number of patients facing cancer will hopefully tether me for some time to come.

But sometimes, there are those days. Days when the drag outweighs the buoyancy to stay afloat and you begin to sink.

Unfortunately for his family, no-one was able to save Robin Williams before he drowned, choked to death by a belt around his neck.

May he finally be at peace.

When things are at their worst, it means they can only get better. Ain't no way but "up" from the bottom. Or so I tell myself.

If you are depressed, I strongly urge you to seek professional help. Your local Health Clinic can offer you more information in your area.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


He's been telling me for years to stop changing my mind! His voice is usually strained, higher pitched than normal and quite obviously wrought with sincerity and hope that THIS time I will get what he means.

I also have a great friend who spent a few years chastising me every time we got together "but you SAID...and now you're saying this?" until I guess she gave up and realized I would probably change my mind yet again. Who can keep up? Sometimes I can't keep up to the changes I make myself.

I DO try to keep my promises. Those don't change. But if there's a "better way" to do anything, I feel I can and will and should try. I know I SAID I would do it one way, but  after further investigation, or a better understanding , a cheaper price elsewhere, a better day, better weather, (there are 1000+ reasons WHY), I will change my mind, the plan or the thing. Always for "everyone's benefit" I am sure.

For fifty plus years I never figured this a problem, as long as I was considerate enough to notify others. Usually the plan would make it better for EVERYONE concerned. My husband and friends would hopefully one day learn to roll a little faster to keep up with these betterments. Right??

 I finally am starting to see that the answer is actually WRONG!  It took a few events at my daughter's wedding last week to see that quite often one change for the better for me, can dwindle down to one big change to make things worse for someone else.I managed to see it because for once, the plans changed ON ME- by other people and I was left facing the awkwardness of  more than one situation.

It's a bit of a habit in our family- everyone out for what suits him or her best. Let everyone else fend for what's left? Maybe they've been watching me do it for myself all these years and it has finally come back to bite me in the bus I almost had a mutiny on an hour before the wedding. It definitely bit me when the nth hour had a change in the rehearsed seating of the parent's sides.I still don't know why it happened, only that I got to see the awkwardness of my bride's father and step-father trying to get around each other as we stood behind him and not on the other side of Karly. Water under the bridge my bride tells me. So why does it still taste so bitter?

Can I be seeing that by changing something to best suit me, it may not be what best suits the people possibly behind the scenes or someone I had NOT thought about? Or that by taking one choice and not sticking to it, I domino others who make their decision based on mine and then will possibly need to change as well? 

Why is it so hard to decide on something in the first place? Ever order the Orange Tiger ice cream and then immediately wish you'd gone for chocolate mint instead? Happens to me all the time.

Saying that, I can see it's not going to be an over-night change into a one-decision gal. BUT, I am now aware of how bad an attitude that it is: right up there with being selfish, tyrranical, devil-may-care about anyone standing in line behind me. It's sad because I wasn't raised that way. And I spend so much time trying NOT to be like that. I figured I was such a giving, caring person. But it seems I am only like that until it comes down to my own choices.Then I figure it's all about what I want. Or think I want at that moment, reserving the choice to change my mind.

So, I'm going to try and work on it. It's all I can do at this point. Show by example to my family. And for once, I am not going to change my mind  about that or try and change anyone else's mind  about the matter, either.

Gives YOU something to think about, I hope.