I woke this morning to the news that Robin Williams had taken his own life yesterday. I’m not a follower of celebrities, but this really rocked me. He was such a part of my life: Mork and Mindy was a part of my high school years, and then his brilliant, mad comedy was a large part of the decades afterwards for me. The clip below (unfortunately audio only) is an example of why he was so crazy-talented – the words “crazy” and “talented” used together intentionally. You couldn’t imagine living with someone like that, the white-hot fierceness of that manic personality would exhaust you and burn you out. Also, you just knew that there had to be a flip side to the manic persona, a darker side…or perhaps that is just hindsight.
I have seen so many links to suicide hotlines posted, so many exhortations to just talk to someone if you’re feeling down, and they’ve been irritating the hell out of me this morning. The intention is good, I’m sure, but how dismissive is it to say that you should just pick yourself up when you’re feeling down, that you should think about what your loss would do to your family and friends. Well, you know what? It’s not as easy as all that. Sometimes depression is something that arrives at your door unexpectedly, when life is good and nothing particularly difficult is happening to you. All of a sudden the world is black. It can feel as sharp as grief (even though no one has died), or like a deep exhaustion that makes every day an insurmountable mountain.
If you’ve lived with depression long enough you know how it works. You know that you’ll have good days again, that this will eventually pass. You also know that it will come back, again and again over the decades. I’ve suffered from depression since childhood. I have my scars which I refuse to hide (although I’ve developed a “you don’t want to go there” look when I know that someone is dying to ask about them). This is me, this is the thing that I’ve always had to deal with, and damn it I’ve managed it…but sometimes I get so damned exhausted. I can relate to someone who made the decision to not deal with it anymore. He didn’t love his family and friends any less…perhaps he just got tired.
Go then, mad prince…I have to believe that there are other worlds than these. It was your burden and your decision to go, so go then.