12
Aug
14

A Darkness Visible

 

It was 2003. My sister-in-law was visiting us. It was a weekend, and her, my wife, and our niece were going to go up the coast to a fish shack just over the Ventura County line. They asked if I wanted to join them. I said no.

The fly-by-night telecommunications company for which I worked had just closed its doors, but I had quickly found a job at a similar company. I started that following Monday. And all I could see was a hopeless, endless succession of dead-end jobs, one following the other, none leading to anything, no hope of doing anything better, anything more meaningful. I was trapped. I was in the grip of my depression.

Depression can be triggered by anything—or it can be triggered by nothing. It can have warning signs; or it can come upon you like Judgment Day, as a thief in the night. It robs you of you, turning you into someone other than who you were, altering you irrevocably. You are suddenly or not so suddenly this person you weren’t before, a distorted image of the person loved and cherished by others, an image of yourself dark, twisted, sent into the world too soon.

My depressive episodes, stretching back to the late Nineties, have usually been triggered by the combination of pointless work, or lack of work, and the curious malady of my stutter which made me despair of ever being able to do anything other than what I was doing. But triggers don’t always happen. As Robin Williams shows, people who have it all can feel as if they have nothing. Fame, glory, money: they don’t matter. When depression strikes, it doesn’t discriminate. It will take the high and the low, the rich and the poor. It’s very democratic in that way.

Depression is the soul destroyer. It consumes the soul, stamping out whatever joy it may have gloried in. Depression is the sly counselor, whispering in your ear that nothing matters, that there’s no hope, that you are worthless.

Depression tells you to tie the noose, tightly, and look through it. Outside of the circle all is fractured and torn, a world of tears and regrets. Within the noose it shows you peace, tranquility, finality. Just put that noose around your neck, just jump off that chair, and it will all be over, you’ll finally be at rest, the demons will be defeated. Of course, it will be the demons who have won, chuckling as they move on to claim another life.

Most of those dear to me have fought the demons. My wife, my best friend, my niece, my brother, my mother. All either have gone through or continue to battle depression. Depression does not respect you. It is the lord of darkness, ever working to draw more people into its kingdom.

No one in my family or circle of love, aside from my wife and best friend, have ever known about my depression. I haven’t wanted to burden them, I’ve felt ashamed, I’ve felt weak. I wanted to maintain the facade of the happy go lucky baby of the family, always with a smile on his face, always ready to lend an ear to other people’s problems. I didn’t want to be pitied.

And that was the exactly wrong thing to do. Depression festers in the silence of shame. The quiet leads to the overdose, or the gunshot, or the noose. I’m lucky in that the love my wife has for me was so powerful that I was able to rise up and escape depression’s grip, making changes which defeated it. But many times love is not enough. Sometimes the loneliest place is in the middle of loved ones who don’t understand. And that is not shameful; it is not weak. It is an illness, it is a disease, and it is life. What depression relishes is the despairing silence. What it fears is when you tell one person, and then one person more, and those people understand, and those people love you enough to give you the support you need.

To those reading this who may be going through the darkness: speak. Speak your truth. Do not suffer in silence. There’s no honor in that, neither is there relief. Suffering in silence will lead to the silence of the grave. You are a human being, who is loved, and by that you have worth, whatever the demons may be whispering. Depression is the soul devourer. Hope is its mortal enemy.

***

(Author’s note: “A Darkness Visible” is William Styron’s memoir about his battles with depression. It is a recounting of depression’s palpable physicality.)

 


119 Responses to “A Darkness Visible”


  1. 1 Allison
    August 12, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Good Afternoon All!

  2. August 12, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Wow, LL. You are an amazing human. I appreciate your words of vulnerability and your strength to express your wisdom here.

    I have a brother who is bipolar so know a little bit about how hard it can be to say these things. I’m grateful that he has had very good treatment but it’s never over and I ache for how he suffers at times.

    Thank you for sharing your own experience. It helps all of us understand more each day.

    • August 12, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      Like I said, I’ve never talked about my depression with anyone other than the missus and my bff. If this essay can help one person, it’s done its job.

      • August 12, 2014 at 12:42 pm

        And how wonderful that you have this great job, assisting people with their interests and pursuits, working with children, sharing your love of reading and writing. You are gifted.

      • August 12, 2014 at 12:43 pm

        Very generous of you, LL. Much admiration for your sharing your story.

        BTW, japa has a comment at the bottom of the previous thread that I hope everyone will read.

      • 11 Sam Uk Obama Supporter
        August 12, 2014 at 1:07 pm

        LL Thank you!!!!! your amazing post has had me in tears of relief. I have suffered depression for many years and although on meds for it there are days which are so dark and the “thunder clouds” refuse to disperse. It is so true that once you share your darkest feelings and thoughts with someone you trust the extreme loneliness does abate. I am so lucky to have such an understanding son and hubby and a dear, dear friend who understand that there are times when I want to be alone and that there are also times when I should not be alone even if I want to be.

        LL You really are the most wonderful, generous person and I hold you close in my heart, thank you for sharing. SamUK

      • 14 pkayden
        August 12, 2014 at 1:11 pm

        (((HUGS)))

        Great article. It’s important for people to understand that depression is an illness — it’s not just a matter of feeling sad. You can’t just shake yourself out of it. You need medical treatment to handle it. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

        Thanks for this post.

      • August 12, 2014 at 1:31 pm

        Thank you LL. You are so right – depression does not discriminate. The love of my mother, and writing down my ramblings explaining why I had to leave this world by my own hand started m on the path out of the darkness. Thank you so much for sharing this.

      • 16 Betsy
        August 12, 2014 at 1:50 pm

        I have been in that black hole myself and it is indescribable. Thank you for your eloquent words.

  3. 17 SUE DUVALL SMITH
    August 12, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    BEAUTIFULLY SAID…LL…………….WELL DONE!

  4. 18 globalcitizenlinda
    August 12, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    https://twitter.com/Obermueller2014/status/499201387755208704 ;

    ;

  5. August 12, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Liberal Librarian, thank you for these illuminating, moving words. Your story is a precious gift. My respect, admiration, and gratitude for your presence in the world and your generousity and tenacity in nourishing and fueling TOD is beyond measure, and keeps on growing as you keep on going.

  6. August 12, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    LL, you opened your heart in this, and what a stunning account of the impact of depression, the sheer helplessness of it all.

    This really struck me: “Depression can be triggered by anything—or it can be triggered by nothing.”

    I recall a friend who suffered from depression losing his job and his seeing his marriage end around the same time, I worried about him, but he coped, and battled through. He was, somehow, able to stay strong and come out the other side.

    But years later, when all was seemingly going well in his life – he had a job he loved, a new partner he adored – he crumbled, out of the blue.

    And it was only then I realized just how this illness is so utterly unpredictable and vicious, how it strikes people when, maybe, they least expect it and brings them crashing down.

    So, I quit saying, ‘what has he to be depressed about, his life is perfect’.

    “As Robin Williams shows, people who have it all can feel as if they have nothing. Fame, glory, money: they don’t matter. When depression strikes, it doesn’t discriminate. It will take the high and the low, the rich and the poor. It’s very democratic in that way.”

    I always say this to you, no matter how bleak the subject you write on, you always, always finish with a call to arms, hope:

    “To those reading this who may be going through the darkness: speak. Speak your truth. Do not suffer in silence. There’s no honor in that, neither is there relief. Suffering in silence will lead to the silence of the grave. You are a human being, who is loved, and by that you have worth, whatever the demons may be whispering. Depression is the soul devourer. Hope is its mortal enemy.”

    Thank you for this LL, thank you for the courage of opening up. This is just incredibly powerful.

  7. 23 Dakota
    August 12, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Wonderful piece LL. Thank you.

  8. 24 japa21
    August 12, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    LL, thanks for spreading some lightness on the darkness that is depression.

    I was, in one of my earlier lives, a mental health counselor. I saw so many people suffering depression of varying levels of severity. One finally was successful in committing suicide, an event that I blamed myself for, because I couldn’t reach him enough to pull him out. It took me a while to get out of my own depression that resulted from that.

    Depression is a self perpetuating state of mind, if left to its own devices. What is bad becomes worse. What is worse becomes unbearable. A depressed person can actually come to believe that by committing suicide they are actually do something good for those around them.

    And a major problem for people suffering depression is that they believe, as you describe, that they are weak, and that very feeling of weakness is both a symptom of and a further driver of depression.

    In a world in which we want to belief in cures for everything, the reality is that depression cannot be cured. It is, to some degree, a natural part of humankind’s make up. We should all feel depressed at times. Not doing so means we have detached ourselves too much from the world, the society and those around us. It is when depression gets to be the norm that the real problems arise.

    Depression cannot be cured, but it can be overcome. Too many people think that anti-depressants are a cure. For some people, who have true biochemical screwups in their brains, they almost are. For others, whose depression is more of a psychological rather than physical issue, anti-depressants can help one drag themselves from the worse of depression to a level where they can begin to overcome it.

    But it is not something, in either case, that can be handled without help or support from others. Even just a few people can make a difference.

  9. August 12, 2014 at 12:46 pm

  10. August 12, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    • 27 pkayden
      August 12, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      Wow. What an imbalance!

    • 28 jacquelineoboomer
      August 12, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      I picked up on that, on day one, just by looking at the lines of police officers visible in the videos.

      WHY!??!!!!

      It shouldn’t matter, but it always does.

    • 29 anniebella
      August 12, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      So the police was going to release the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown, then they change their mind. They said it was because the officer received death threats. I’m not buying that. Maybe they don’t want anyone looking into the officer history right now. Police force is 94% white. The town is 67% black. Not right .

  11. August 12, 2014 at 12:51 pm

  12. August 12, 2014 at 12:56 pm

  13. August 12, 2014 at 12:57 pm

  14. 38 Nena20409
    August 12, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    As I read your post LL, Only in my right eye, tears are rolling down my cheeks. Thaank you for sharing your story. Thank you for trusting TOD enough to enlighten, educate and LOVE Us enough to include Us all. Thank you for being You, a Fantastic Human Being. It is an honor to read from you. Thank you.

  15. 39 lockewasright
    August 12, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    My wife is the reason depression is fleeting when it comes around. I didn’t used to have her in my life. I am a persistent optimist now, but I came by it defensively after a lot of struggle. It is painful to me to think of how Robin William’s gloom must have felt juxtaposed against the laughter and joy he spent his life dispensing.

    I am glad that you have the relationship that you have with your wife LL and I hope that it feels similar to the way it feels for me to have mine. It’s a much different and better world as long as I can experience it with her. Things moved from a search for hope to victory already attained. Life used to be something that I planned to struggle my best at, now I am excited to spend however much time remains relishing it together.

    • 40 0388jojothecat
      August 12, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      You are truly a blessed man to recognize you wife is someone who brings meaning and joy to your life. I believe as humans we need someone or something in our lives to make it worthwhile.

      Thank you LL, LWR and others who have told how depression and bipolar affects your lives. That is also why it is important to not allow the ACA be repealed. It includes mental health and substance abuse in policies. When my cousin was killed I had a hard time dealing with it. I paid out of pocket to talk to a psychologist. I spent the first couple of sessions just crying and expressing my anger. Once I got past the anger I could focus on life and work again.

  16. 41 dotster3
    August 12, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks, LL, for sharing your intimate knowledge and advice. I think many more people than we realize struggle with this. Just noticed this pertinent post….

  17. August 12, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Oh Jesus, all you guys are making me tear up.

    • 43 Roberta in MN
      August 12, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      Thank you LL. I was tearing up reading your essay. I was there a couple of times and thankfully I had family to help me through and professional help. (((hugs))) to all that have suffered this horrendous disease.

  18. 44 Nena20409
    August 12, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Allison and the Doc Bobfr for your golden entrance.
    Congratulations to all Au :star: winners 3-4 posts back.

  19. 45 JER
    August 12, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    • 46 Nena20409
      August 12, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      4.7M Job Openings……the Most in Years.

      We are told that the economy is what prevails in election cycles…….Today, they claim Foreign Policy and Poll Numbers? Once again, the Narrative is driven by paid pundits and the Media is right there willing and eager to drive those stories in the Age of pres Obama.

      The president said and continues to say that Cynicism is a Choice. Choose Hope. Opportunity. Progress. FORWARD!

      VOTE! 2014 VOTE! 2014 VOTE! When Dems VOTE, We The People Win!

  20. 47 Lynn
    August 12, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    My humblest thanks. LL. I went there twice, for some of the same reasons you did. My partner, too, was there for me. Can’t see to type. BBL

  21. 48 Nena20409
    August 12, 2014 at 1:22 pm

  22. 50 Nena20409
    August 12, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    I saw this partly yesterday on FreeSpeechTV as Amy Goodman Interviewed Noam Chomsky.

    He will Never get an invite to broader Medium unless, he is there to trash pres Obama. Nothing he said here is that wide of a gap to what Jimmy Carter and a brave few have said.

  23. 51 Nena20409
    August 12, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    So after a wide criticism….ABC News now knows that Live Streaming at Robin Williams’ Home was and is Fatuously Wicked, Crude and Cruel?

    Thank goodness for The pushback from Twitter.

  24. 52 Nena20409
    August 12, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Good for Roberts. Use their wicked words on them and hold them accountable.

  25. August 12, 2014 at 1:34 pm

  26. 55 whatisworking
    August 12, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    LL – It means a lot to hear your struggle and journey. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for all you do at this blog and in your community.

  27. August 12, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    You all have me so choked up. What a place this is!

  28. August 12, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Very powerful, and, of course, lyrical essay.

    You have such a gift for writing, a flair for expressing that which is immeasurably hard to define.

    If you live long enough, your life is touched with suicide — if not someone you know, someone close to a person you know.

    Thank you, LL, for your gift to Robin Williams and all others who have succumbed to this unspeakable demon. I’m thinking of David Foster Wallace, an icon for elite white GenXers who, like Robin Williams seemed to have it all, yet had the same stunning fate.

    Thank you Chips and Japa21 for your insight into this human condition.

  29. 60 Nena20409
    August 12, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    The Universe Wonder…..Truly breathtaking.

  30. August 12, 2014 at 1:37 pm

  31. 62 Nena20409
    August 12, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    FINALLY, lest hope that this nightmare is Over.

  32. 65 Nena20409
    August 12, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    The Lies by the Media is Just Crude and Wicked.

    ISIL or ISIS is Not Powerful without the Sunnis in Iraq joining them. They were in Syria for years and Not Until a few months ago did they seize the Vacuum in Iraq due to the marginalization of the Iraqi Sunnis to gain territory in Iraq……The Media is once again, willfully, ignoring what happened in 2006 and the buying In and paying off Sunnis to join and fight against…..this same element in Iraq. Facts matter.

    • August 12, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      True, Nena. If the folk in SA & Qatar stopped the flow of $$ to ISIS/ISIL, it would collapse. It has no resources, other than the stuff and $$ that it has stolen.

      Interestingly, during the past few weeks, the SA leadership has grown to realize that ISIS/ISIL is now a threat to them, as have leading Shia and Sunni scholars/religious leaders. That both SA and Iran congratulated the new Iraqi PM-designate, today, is further evidence that folk are catching a clue. Fragmentation of Iraq is a far graver threat to SA and Iran than most realize. Apparently, that realization is growing.

      #TrustBarack

      • 67 Nena20409
        August 12, 2014 at 2:16 pm

        SA, you mean Saudi Arabia?

        I remember Qaddafi point at a Rep of SA King in 2002 at a 22 Arab or Muslim nations…just after 9-11…. stating categorically that the Problem in the Arab World starts and ends at the Kingdom of Saud.

    • 75 Nena20409
      August 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      Excuse Me :shock: ?

      MO is supposed to be the Show Me State. They were Not part of the Confederate in the mid 1800s. Truman came from that state. Had the votes been challenged in 2008, then Sen Obama might have won the state.

      Oh yeah, since then, Dems are struggling and both MO and IN have gone Hard right. Pardon my ignorance…….Hate becomes them.

      • 76 Vicki
        August 12, 2014 at 2:29 pm

        Slaves escaped from MO to Kansas where slavery was not legal. Does part of the confederacy mean something different than the ability to legally own people, Nena? I don’t understand what you are saying.

        • 77 Nena20409
          August 12, 2014 at 2:45 pm

          During the 1861 and as the Civil War raged on, MO Legislatures Voted to remain in the Union even though when they were accepted as a Territory, they were still a Territory with many Slave Owners.

          That is what I meant. The MO state was not a Confederate State. They didn’t secede from the Union.

      • 78 dotster3
        August 12, 2014 at 2:31 pm

        And I will add Mo. has a decent Dem gov. who is serving 2nd term—-who has seemed to have a good relationship with PBO. So most of the state—-not nutballs.

    • 79 dotster3
      August 12, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      I may be dense here, but what is the origin or proof of that assertion? From whence it came?

  33. 80 carolyn
    August 12, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Once again, LL, thank you for a heartfelt, thoughtful, daring essay. As I read it, I was taken back to a Sunday night in 1970 when I received a phone call telling me that a very dear cousin had committed suicide. He was just two years older than I. At that time there was little understanding of, or treatment for depression, and looking back, I can see that he had lived his life in depression. He was my favorite cousin. I believe he truly thought that he would improve his family’s lives by leaving. We still miss him.l

    Blessings on you, and all who suffer from this beast. I have some friends who also have suffered with this, or are suffering with this. I admire the courage of those who get up every day and go about your lives with this inside you.

    Yes, TOD is a remarkable place that people can share such deep feelings.

  34. 81 JER
    August 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm

  35. 82 Linda
    August 12, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    MoveOn Warns Clinton After Knocking Obama On Foreign Policy

    In a statement on Tuesday Ilya Sheyman, the executive director of MoveOn Political Action, said that Clinton or “any other person thinking about seeking the Democratic nomination in 2016, should think long and hard before embracing the same policies advocated by right-wing war hawks that got America into Iraq in the first place and helped set the stage for Iraq’s troubles.”

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/moveon-org-warns-hillary-clinton-iraq

    • August 12, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      As some are wont to say, hmm….

    • 84 anniebella
      August 12, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      I hope Hillary and her supporters gets what MoveOn said, because no one want a Democratic President who will be like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and those right wing war hawks.

      • August 12, 2014 at 2:44 pm

        I just get a terrible feeling she’s going after the Reagan Democrats. That’s a recipe for disaster. Number one you couldn’t find a more fickle group that consistently votes against their own best interest. Number two it’s a dead end strategy. Reagan Democrats are no guarantee of victory. that’s something out of the 90’s. The President hands you (or whoever) a blueprint for victory and she wants to roll the dice on an outdated strategy that has a 35-65 chance of working.

        Tone deaf.

  36. 88 Linda
    August 12, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    David Axelrod Throws Shade At Hillary Clinton For ‘Stupid Stuff’ Comment

    “Just to clarify: ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place, which was a tragically bad decision,” Axelrod tweeted.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/david-axelrod-hillary-clinton-iraq

  37. August 12, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Twitter matters. It’s our voice.

  38. August 12, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Thank you for your testimony, LL. Thank you for your honesty.

  39. August 12, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    I do so love sending troll comments to the trash.

  40. August 12, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    A moment of squee

  41. August 12, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Correction:

    • 98 hopefruit2
      August 12, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      Whether it’s Ferguson or St. Louis County, the fact that a confederate flag features in the home of a police chief is seriously disturbing. Unless this picture was taken in the 1960’s which I seriously doubt.

    • 99 dotster3
      August 12, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      Thanks for the needed correction—–proof that caution is needed—–and info verified—-before passing along—-during this time of high tension. Probably a good idea to remove that county chief from any investigation. Good that there will be fed oversight.

  42. 100 Nena20409
    August 12, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Coroner’s Office has confirmed that Robin Williams Hung himself. I feel so bad for him and his family.

    Those idiots who think that depression is Cowardly…..Shep Smith……there is Nothing Cowardly about one physically harming oneself…..especially doing it at home and physically inflecting pain to oneself.

    I had respect for Shepard Smith. After reading this about Shep Smith,…..my respect for him is no longer there.

    • August 12, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      It takes a lot of strength to contemplate, plan and execute a suicide. My son hung himself in his garage. He took a rope and secured it to the rear axle of his truck, put the rope through the toggle that held his kick boxer bag, stood on a ladder, and then knocked the ladder away. That is not cowardly. It is a sickness, period.

      • 102 Nena20409
        August 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm

        {{{{J4O}}}}

        My heart bleeds as people like Shep Smith are making Cruel and Wicked comments.

        It is an illness, period.

    • 103 0388jojothecat
      August 12, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      What’s cowerdly is when people take other peoples lives with a AK 47 and its OK to blame it on depression so you don’t have to address the gun issue.

  43. 106 Ladyhawke
    August 12, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    {{{{{{LL}}}}}}, Thank you so much for sharing this brilliant and very personal essay with us. I am touched by your writing and very grateful that you are part of our amazing TOD family. LH

  44. 107 hopefruit2
    August 12, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Thanks LL for this poignant account of your personal experiences with depression. And we may never know, but your words may have just in time reached a few people (lurkers) who needed to hear them the most.

  45. 112 SUE DUVALL SMITH
    August 12, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    THERE ARE TIMES WHEN I WISH THAT DETAILS OF DEATH COULD NOT BE RELEASED TO ANYONE BUT IMMEDIATE FAMILY….FRANKLY THIS IS ONE OF THEM. IT’S NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS AND THE QUESTIONS THE PRESS ASK MAKE THEM SOUND LIKE THEY ARE ALL RUSHING FOR A PIECE OF ROADKILL IN THE MIDDLE OF A HIGHWAY…ROBIN WILLIAMS IS QUITE ALIVE…IT’S THOSE VULTURES WHO ARE CORPSES!

  46. August 12, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    WASHINGTON — One day in the fall of 2007, President George W. Bush joined Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki in a video conference to sign a “declaration of principles” on the future of the Iraqi-American relations. As Mr. Bush scrawled his name, Mr. Maliki in Baghdad just passed his pen over his copy, pretending to sign. At the last minute, Mr. Maliki had decided not to sign because he said he had not read the document’s final wording, but he did not mention this to Mr. Bush, who had no idea his counterpart’s pen had not actually touched paper. An American official in the room noticed, however, and as soon as Mr. Bush’s image vanished from the screen, accosted a Maliki aide, saying, “Don’t screw with the president of the United States.”….

    …For weeks, the president and his aides have said it was not their role to tell Iraq who its leader should be, but they made eminently clear on Monday that it was time for Mr. Maliki to step aside in favor of Haider al-Abadi, a fellow member of the same Shiite party nominated by President Fuad Masum to be the next prime minister. Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. each called Mr. Abadi to congratulate him, and when the president went before cameras on Martha’s Vineyard to repeat that publicly, he pointedly did not mention Mr. Maliki’s name. When a reporter asked if he had a message for Mr. Maliki, the president walked away. That was the message….

    …But the fake-signing episode underscored American frustrations. Even though Mr. Maliki later signed the agreement for real, when Iraqi foes plotted to push him out, some in the White House agreed that he should go, including Brett McGurk, the official who had confronted the Maliki aide about the fake signing, and who now works for Mr. Obama….

    …Even after Mr. Obama sent advisers and surveillance planes, Mr. Maliki resisted Washington’s advice. American officials warned against trying to retake Tikrit from the Sunni insurgents, but he ignored them. Now Mr. Obama is moving on. Mr. Biden called Mr. Masum, the Iraqi president who nominated Mr. Abadi, to buck him up “to hold firm in the face of pressure” from Mr. Maliki, according to the senior official. Mr. Biden came away impressed with Mr. Abadi, finding him “very different from Maliki,” the official said, “pragmatic and cool headed.”

  47. 114 MadameSoph
    August 12, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story LL. You mentioned not wanting to reach out because you felt ashamed and weak. This is what is so difficult for people suffering from this illness, is that some still see it as simply an attitude problem and not the medical condition that it is. Not that there are not also mental and emotional triggers, as you mentioned, but it is a complex condition. No one questions when stress exacerbates a heart condition, or a digestive problem, but somehow the mental/emotional component is seen as a weakness.

    I have suffered from panic/anxiety attacks that just sneak up on me. Because I too, used to see this (and maybe subconsciously still do) as a weakness, I didn’t want to admit the cause of the vague and persistent nausea, heart palpitations and tingling that meant I was in an anxiety episode. Now I am a little more kind and understanding with the fact that I am human and humans have fear and fear can express itself in physical ways. I have done a lot of work, but it has involved counseling as well as dietary changes, hormone balancing and lots of deep breathing.

    Robin Williams also battled alcoholism and drug abuse. These are also conditions that much of society still sees as “weakness” and when someone has trouble maintaining sobriety, it can feed depression and hopelessness. I lost a dear friend to these same struggles several years ago. At the time of his death, he had many friends and family members who cared about him, were there for him and were trying to help him get better. In spite of the love that surrounded him, my friend felt hopeless and ended his life with an overdose at the age of 23. I wish with all of my heart that he could have stuck around long enough to recover – that he could have made it through the long, dark night to see the light of dawn – that he could have made just one more call for help.

    Thank you for opening up. I am sure many here have found comfort and strength in reading your story.

  48. 115 sjterrid
    August 12, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Thank you LL for expressing so eloquently what many of us has gone through when depression hits.

  49. 116 globalcitizenlinda
    August 12, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    LL, thanks a lot for this – another exceptional piece from an exceptional person;

  50. August 12, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    LL your commentary was brave and revealing for those of us without experience with family depression. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is difficult to express private thoughts and feelings. Fear of being judged unfairly rules many people’s lives. I am glad you turned to your wife and found a job more fitting your gifts and talents. I appreciate your writings.

  51. August 16, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Thank you so much for this commentary….This sickness not only touch one life, but many. People are going through this and not realize the danger of not addressing or admitting that something is wrong.
    <3 LL


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