On August 11, 2014, Robin Williams is suspected to have passed away by suicide. The world is still in mourning, his family devastatingly so. Robin Williams was more than just a brilliant actor, a factual comedian, and a genius.
He suffered from depression like so many of us do. This time, he lost the fight. Now, he is gone. I’m sure that struck a cord for those of us who have relied on him during our darkest hours. He lifted our spirits and inspired us to keep going. And many of us have. Maybe just a little bit too much.
I think in some way, shape, or form, we’re all bracing for the surge in suicide rates after this because there is one thought that I’m sure is shared by all:
If Robin Williams, the great man that he is and was, couldn’t win the fight against depression. What hope do I have to do what he couldn’t?
A week before Robin’s death, I had posted this on my tumblr: “lahcbe fo toetbl a inkirgdn kile efle I.”
Unscrambled and righted, it read: “I feel like drinking a bottle of bleach.”
How dark his world must have been wasn’t lost on me. I was just there myself. I can still remember the pain, the frustration, the relentless echoing in my head that simply screamed “I am worthless. The world doesn’t want me. Doesn’t need me. There are so many problems. Nothing I do seems to change anything. Why bother? Why don’t I just walk away? That bleach is right there. RIGHT THERE. All I have to do is pick it up. Uncap it. Drink it. There will be a moment of insufferable pain, but then it’ll all be over. For good. No more pain. Nothing. Peace. It will give me peace.”
I was on the kitchen floor, my back to the refrigerator, but I didn’t move towards the bottle of bleach sitting in the cupboard directly in front of me.
Why do I say writing saves my life? Because every writer has to create fictional characters. I have my selective army of them, and my most loved one just happens to be Ash. You’ll get a chance to meet him. He does make an appearance in the new chapter of Undisclosed Conversation to be posted.
Just imagine this little cartoon Ash, maybe all of a foot tall, standing to my right with this mountain of me in front of him. He had his hands on his hips. He was worried, and so he kept pushing me in the direction of my laptop. “Come on,” he said. “Send an SOS. Someone’ll answer.”
“Yeah, right…” I had replied. Others joined in. Soon it was a whole army of little OCs reminding me of all the things I’ve got going for me. My children were in the living room playing with toys. My husband was gone on a dispatch that day…
“But he’ll be home soon!” mini-Callie promised.
Poor Ash just about suffered a full-body muscle strain from how hard he was pushing.
Eventually, I crawled to my laptop, pulled myself up into my chair, and reached out on Tumblr, but I didn’t spell it out so I wouldn’t overwhelm anyone else. Interestingly enough a real-life “Ash” was the very first person to reply. If you’re reading this, “Ash”… thank you.
I am fortunate. Regardless of how dark the world in my head can get, no matter how heavy its battering fists can be, I can hear there are these voices in the dark that remind me there is people there. They can’t see me. They can’t see the darkness I’m battling on the inside, but they know I’m in it.
I have support. I always have. I’m still surviving. I have no doubt I will keep surviving – Misshaped Hope.
Knowing that last part is half the battle of depression.
“Why?” my husband had asked last night. “There was no need for that,” he claimed. He was upset and angry. He didn’t think it called for Robin’s final act. On one hand, I agree with my husband. On the other, I can fathom why Robin wanted an end.
There are so many different types of depression out there. I can’t tell you what they are or the distinct differences as I’m not a professional. As a fellow sufferer, I don’t think it’s the darkness that is daunting, or the fight.
It is the repeated necessity of the fight that is tiresome. It is knowing that after this battle is another one, and no matter how valiantly we may have fought, there’s just no telling if we will eventually win the war.
Plenty of people, when faced with another round of treatment for cancer or disease, opt not to continue it. The fight is exhausting, and they usually choose to live life as well as they can until the end of their fast-approaching days when treatment is declined.
Depression is a recurring disease. It’s not “if” it will show up. It’s the “when”…
And I believe everyone of us have to make the determination if I want to keep fighting or not knowing that another will follow. Because we need a support system, it isn’t just us facing the fight. It’s our friends and family too. They have to keep stepping up and helping. Some do so without complaint. Others won’t say anything, but we can see their exhaustion and facial expressions…
Because often times, it is the repeat of a reoccurring symptom to the problem. Repetition is draining. We don’t choose to read books that are always the about the same things or have the exact same storyline. We don’t live our lives to the exact same schedule year after year. We all need variation to a degree.
But depression is repetitive. Almost to the exact same dotting of an ‘i’ or the crossing of a ‘t.’
But if people are willing to give Robin Williams support, why did he give up?
I don’t know. I’m not Robin Williams, but I will venture this guess.
He is tired of people paying for the cost to support his depression. He is tired of being the burden that he is to his wife and best friend, to his children, and whoever else steps in to help. By ending it, he not only sets himself free, but he also sets free the people he has been calling on.
We keep being told that suicide is the ultimate act of selfishness. But in some cases, it can just as easily be the ultimate act of selflessness.
At 64, I don’t think there are people depending on Robin Williams as people did when he was much younger – his family. He has had a lot of life. More than most people well into their 80s, methinks.
Perhaps enough is enough. He has loved and is loved by his wife. They have raised their children into adulthood. August 11, 2014 was the day he decided he wasn’t going to keep spending the currency that paid towards his struggle with depression. He knew his candle was near its end, and much like an aging warrior refusing to become a full-time burden to those around him, he blew out the flame and closed his eyes one final time.
Remember Patch Adams?
“Our job is improving the quality of life, not just delaying death.” — Robin Williams in Patch Adams.
I do hate that his days ended in darkness. It is discouraging to those of us still fighting the fight. But he is free, and I take some comfort in that even if the world is now darker without him.
Farewell, dear Robin, and may you and Peace have been reunited in Heaven. You have survived and fought for far too long without finding it.
❤ ❤ ❤
Rest in Peace. Thank you for all you’ve given me all these years.