My little brother, Joe has a lot of talents. He works very hard five days a week teaching school, including afternoon practices with the soccer team he coaches. On Saturday he works at his other job at the Space Center nearby and he is the father to two precious little boys.
Joe is funny, born to entertain! Just ask anyone who knows him. He is legendary as the crazy High School Mascot and was voted so many Who's who that he had to chose which ones to keep in high school. He seeks out attention in crowds and usually gets it. His face is the one on the big screen with his ugly teeth dentures he had made and his cap sideways. Anything for a laugh!
But, as many comedians, the laughter is an external facade that covers an inward battle with depression.
Look at Robin Williams, who eventually succumbed to his hopelessness, or research funny man Jim Carey who performs on demand but struggles with his dark side in real life.
Recently, my brother had a message. He shares much of his battle now, it is out in the open. His reflections are to help others understand what its like to be trapped in your mind by darkness.
Its so real. It so sad. Sometimes this disorder lies in wait until a life trauma or event knocks you off your feet. In my brother's case, it was the death of my husband, and a close friend, mentor and big brother to him that opened up a dark box within Joe that he still has to cope with.
You may know someone who suffers with depression or anxiety if not yourself. Mental illness is all around.
Here are his words:
To our youth:
I see your pain.... I know your confusion..... Pain, anger, frustration. Life can be cruel, cold and ominous! It can rob you of even the most simple joys. Have you ever been so angry that it totally consumes you and everything within your reach? Have you ever been so hopeless that even those closest can't ease the isolation and pain you are feeling? Have you ever been in a place in which it seems you can never escape......minutes seem like days?
Peace? What is peace? Where can I find that place of restfulness ? Does it exist? Is this a made up word ???....someone's cruel idea of a joke? A silly foolish ideology that only others feel during times like this.
It all changed faster than the blink of an eye. Things that made since no longer do. Things that used to comfort you no longer have the ability. The very life has been sucked from your insides. Gut punched by recent events. Your pain is real and palatable.
I assure you that what you are feeling is not artificial and not a mistake. It isn't a figment of your imagination..... A passing feeling most likely no. For many of you this may be the first step towards growing up.... The first indication we aren't invincible. For some this may be the first indication that life offers something besides carefree moments and mindless laughter. For some...reaching this crossroads will be too much. They will turn inwardly..... Compartmentalize their feelings and pain. Place them in a nice neat space deep down inside. They may turn to alcohol or drugs or shut themselves off from the world around them.
Let me offer my heartfelt advice....... My heart sympathizes with your situation. The days ahead of you will be lost in a plethora of what If"s!!!! I coulda.....,I shoulda"s !!!!
Refrain ..... Walk away from such rhetoric.
This thought process comes from an evil place. It's meant to sideline any progress of healing and prevent you from finding underlying meanings of what God may be wanting you to learn from such events. Don't give in!!! Open your heart. Welcome anger!!! Welcome pain!!! Welcome grief !!! These unpleasant feelings are all a part of the process. You can get through this stronger than before.
I have been there. I have traveled every road you are currently facing and I chose poorly. Anger.... Depression and despair.
I leaned on self and my own power. I caused myself endless amounts of darkness. Much of this was unnecessary. It was a poor selfish decision...... Thinking I had the power to overcome these things.
Trust me. You do not ! YOU DO NOT!!!
Losing someone close is a deeply personal tragedy. Do not let it rob you from what God has for your future.
Sometimes God may crush you!!! Smash you to nothing in order to build you back in the image of his son. Don't resist..... You will run but can't hide. Alcohol can't cover it...... Activities....... Anger........ Nothing can be hidden behind when God is speaking. Take it from an escapee..... There isn't peace! There is no rest.
Each of you are precious gifts from God.
Each one of you has something inside you that no other person on the face of the earth has. A specialness given by your creator.
Don't make the mistakes I made. Don't lose your way. Don't take the easy road. It will be lined with regret and darkness.
Life has only just begun. These tragedies have much to teach.
As we walk into the future..... Know that the ones that go before us live in our hearts. Their goodness joy and love can shine on through us...... The ones that loved them.