Shortly after new of Robin Williams’ suicide broke, a friend of mine wrote a very well-crafted, thoughtful piece about what it’s like living with depression, essentially the devil you know. I meant to post it here sooner, but for various reasons I’m late to the game.
I’m going to quote most of it, but not the entire thing. I think it really hits the nail on the head and will give you something to think about, maybe both for yourself and someone (or several people) you know.
“Sadness and the Bottle Analogy” by Alex M:
Basically it works like this: imagine every person like a bottle with the cork out.
People take from each of us but people also give back. Not everyone, though. We all lose water, sometimes. That happens to everyone I think, eventually. You feel very empty.
When your body, mind, and personality are a certain way, when you hit fizzy water bottom, you put the cork in the bottle. That bottle will not be filled. You have put the cork into it and only you can take it out. It could rain fizzy water and your bottle would be empty while everyone else’s is flowing over the top and into the sea. But it’s okay, because there are ways to fill someone’s bottle even when yours is empty. It’s still possible to create it, through words and actions. It’s possible to tip an empty bottle and have something come out.
You may never take that cork out of the bottle. Every day billions of other people are thirsty because something is going wrong for them and I can help with that! I would love to help with that. Because if I’m not taking in water then there’s extra to go around. Because everyone deserves to be happy. Not me, though. All of those tiny invisible somethings happened to me because I did something to deserve them. Because I did those things and I still wound up empty, so there’s the proof. And then what happens sometimes is the bottle breaks. Empty bottles break better than full ones.
To those who are surprised that someone so happy like Mr. Williams could be so sad: hello. We’ve met. We’ve met but despite how good you are you can’t ever be inside my head. I am an empty bottle person who has empty bottle thoughts, but I have both full and empty bottle friends. Sometimes being around you and people like you I can even take the cork out! It’s hard, though. Compliments are hard. Kind words are not easy at all and sometimes make the self-doubt greater.
It’s important that you remember that depression is an illness, and it can be mediated and moderated with the help of a treatment plan. It is important that you remember that your kind words can save someone, even if they think that their cork is in, but also that sometimes you can’t. The most important thing you can do is make sure that you give when you can and take when you can’t. I and you and we are all of us alone within ourselves but sometimes when everyone is offering water you’ll let yourself dive in. Even if you just want to float for a while.
I also came across this a while ago, which will perhaps serve as further inspiration for you: