Today I mourn Robin Williams’ death with a heavy heart. He was such a blessing to this world, a true legend who had a way of touching our hearts and lifting us up. Just the mention of his name, a picture of his face, or a clip of one of his movies or stand-up acts brought smiles to our faces. Millions of people around this world adored him, but what everyone else feels doesn’t matter when it comes to depression. The size of your house and bank account, the kind of car you drive, the number of people who admire you – none of that matters. Only one person does – the person suffering. Not in an egotistical, self-centered way, but in the very aloneness we feel while battling major depression.

I’ve been there, and I wish I could share just how horrible it is. Depression is hard to describe, though, for those who have never been drowning in it before. Even those who’ve had their short-term, minor bouts don’t understand suicidal thoughts. It’s a very dark, very lonely place that messes with your mind, leading you to do things you’d never thought yourself capable of. You lose touch with reality as the dark thoughts eclipse everything else until they become your only thoughts. You find yourself believing only the negativity and discounting anything anyone else says about your worth, about how much they love you, about everything you have to offer to your loved ones and the rest of the world. You become convinced that nobody else truly understands or cares. You can only believe that their words are all lies. That the only truth is the darkness within you. You know that there may be a few people who will mourn you, but you also know they will go on with their lives. They may be sad for a while, but you just can’t believe that they’d be forever changed by your death. You simply don’t matter enough.

You don’t matter enough.

That’s how someone who seems to have everything, who has fought so many battles with depression, addiction, and self-destruction in the past and hidden his pain behind humor, can come to this final decision. No matter how many people claim to appreciate and need you, to be touched by you, to feel blessed to have you in their lives, you can’t believe that you really matter that much to them. Because you are really, deep down, nobody. Nothing. Unworthy. A dark stain on the world.

Asia, in The Space Within, says it like this:

A deep sadness settled over me, and I began to wonder what it would feel like when the Darkness took over completely. Would it be painful? I couldn’t imagine any worse emotional pain than I was already in—a pain so deep and thorough, it felt physical. Worse than the utter misery of major depression.

I remembered too easily my bout of depression and the feeling it brought that nothing in the world could ever be right again. All I could see then were days and months and years ahead of me of living at the bottom of a black pit that I could never climb my way out of. Where every day consisted of the exact same desolation because nothing would ever change. I didn’t deserve anything different anyway, I’d thought then. I was too weak and ignorant and ugly and skinny and selfish and vain and irresponsible and bitchy … and just plain stupid to deserve happiness. I belongedat the bottom of that pit, far away from the intelligent, beautiful, happy people of the world who shouldn’t be subjected to the damage my presence would do to them. I didn’t deserve their love or any kind of joy of my own.

I walked the rim of that pit every day, always fearful of falling back in, and I felt now that same weight of negativity and despair tugging me downward again, heavier than ever.

Depression is a pit of darkness. And it seems to have a gravity force fifty-million times stronger than that of the Earth, trying to keep you at its very bottom and never letting you out. At that bottom is liquid hopelessness, soaking into your every pore, filling all of your cells, pulling you under, and pressing on your chest so you can’t breathe. Even when your brain knows you should be reaching for the air and light at the top, the bottom pulls stronger at your heart and soul until you are drowning under the liquid blackness. And you feel like the dark depths are exactly where you belong. When you finally convince yourself otherwise and begin to pull yourself up to the light, to where you can breathe again, the tiniest of dark tentacles can grab ahold and whip you back down and under again.

I wish I could tell you how to climb out and stay out – and how to help your loved ones do the same. I’ve been out for several years, but I never once can believe that I’m free from the pit for good. Yes, it is easier and becomes even more so every day I stay out, but I know there is always a chance of falling back down, and I remain alert for the signs. All I can say to you is never give up if you know someone suffering with depression. Even when they seem to be in the light and doing great, you never know when one of those tentacles will lash upwards and take them down again. Make sure they know that they are loved, and not only when they’re sad. Reaffirm their worth in the good times, too. Remind them that they are missed when they’re not around and that lives will be forever changed when they are gone for good.

Make sure that they know they matter enough. And that they’re not alone.

Everyone deserves to know this, regardless of their battles (and we’re all facing something). So be sure to show – not just tell – all of your friends and loved ones that they matter, that you truly care, that you love them. Do it as often as possible. You never know when it might be the last time – or when you might be saving their lives. I have to thank my children for making sure I knew this, even if it was in their own ways of reminding me that they needed a mother. I also have to thank God and my Savior, whom I finally learned to turn to. They have all been my lifeline.

If you are suffering with depression, I pray that you find your lifeline. If you know someone else who is, I pray that you can be theirs. Wrap yourself around them and hold on for as long as it takes, even when you feel their grip slipping or think they don’t need you any more. You don’t need to fix their problems – their problems may not be fixable. You only need to be there – to be their lifeline to hold onto.

We all need each other to get through this thing called life…and to keep each other out of the deepest, darkest pit. We all need to feel that we’re not completely alone in this world, regardless of the number of people surrounding us – we just need to know one person truly, honestly, genuinely cares. Be that person.

Sending my thoughts and prayers to all of you who suffer with depression, as well as to loved ones of those who have taken their own lives, whose wounds have likely been ripped back open. There is no grief that compares to losing a loved one to suicide. You will always wonder why and what more you could have done. But sometimes there is nothing more. Sometimes there is never enough. Sometimes people make irreversible decisions regardless of anything anyone else does. And that is their decision and not a reflection of what you did or didn’t do. No matter where you are and what you’re suffering through, know that God is with you and will take your pain – if you give it over to Him.

Much love and {{{hugs}}} to all of you.