Robin Williams is dead.
The earth won't stop turning, my daily life won't be directly affected. In fact, the truth is most of us will forget within a few months. And then it will hit us again.
It seems crazy to be so sad over someone you didn't even know in person.
But right now, I'm ridiculously mournful about the fact that we'll never again get to enjoy his riotous, manic, sometimes strange but always engaging stand-up performances. I'm heartbroken that we'll never get to see his unbelievable dramatic performances like in Dead Poet's Society or The Fisher King. It's unfair that he'll never make a feel good comedy like Mrs. Doubtfire again.
I grew up with Robin Williams being a household name. I was maybe 10 or 11 when Mork & Mindy hit the airwaves.
As a child growing up in a very conservative, non-artistic home, it was the craziest, weirdest, most out-there thing I had ever seen. And I loved it. My parents indulged me by letting me watch it every week. A lot of the humor was beyond me, but I knew I liked him and he made me laugh.
He made all of us laugh.
Maybe we did know him, after all. Through all of those performances, television shows, and movies. Through all we knew and all he told us about his struggles with drugs and alcohol, failed marriages and inner demons.
It made him more relatable to me. Little did I know, even at the age of 22 when I watched him in Dead Poet's Society, that we would have so much in common.
I suffer from depression, too. Sometimes it's overwhelming; sometimes it's unnoticeable. Always, it's a mystery; always, it's there. It just depends. On life, on medication, on a lot of things.
I was in my late 30's before I was diagnosed, although I'm sure it was there much earlier. As early as 2004 I began having this feeling that something wasn't right. I just didn't feel like myself in a way that was inexplicable.
I felt .... vacated.... empty....void. I was rarely happy, but neither was I sad.
I would cry in the car on the way home every day and I didn't know why. I just felt not right, even when every doctor I talked to told me I was fine.
By the end of 2007 I was 12 hours from my life, my friends and my family in Nashville and I was in such a deep depression that I would make my 30 minute drive to school each day and think, “I could just get on that interstate and drive away and never come back.” Everything made me blow a gasket. I just wanted out of my life. I never thought or considered myself suicidal.
For me, it manifested in a “If I could leave my life and start something all new it would be better for everyone” kind of thing. Finally, in spring 2008 I found an amazing therapist and an amazing psychiatrist who worked to pull me out of the mire through a combination of counseling and medication.
The amount of time it took and the problems I had to endure to be diagnosed, well, that's another story in itself. I was very highly functional, to be sure. I got up, dressed, and went to school or work every day. I smiled at people because that's what you're supposed to do. I wore clean clothes and cooked dinner because that was the routine, and I knew if I stopped I'd never get back up.
But one day, I literally had a therapist tell me I looked too good and was too put together to be depressed. He said that all I needed was a girls shopping weekend. I just lost it and walked out in the middle of the appointment, unable to say a word because I was so mad and my southern manners wouldn't allow it, which only made things worse.
People, we need to take depression seriously in this country. I resisted getting help for so long because I was raised to think that if you're in therapy you're “crazy” or “broken” or destined for the mental hospital. It's just not so.
There are some of us who feel so much. We feel everything from injustice to discontent to sadness from everything that is happening around us. We're empathetic. We have chemical imbalances that keep us from dealing with those feelings in a reasonable manner. Some of us medicate with alcohol and drugs, like Robin Williams. Some medicate with food like me. Some with sex or danger or adrenaline. There are a million ways to get enough of a high to feel better, even for a moment.
One day I was driving home from Nashville and this sky was the view out the front windshield of my car. When I saw it I had to stop and take a picture of it because it kind of felt like how I see life.
This friends is how it feels to have depression. If you don't know why, you are fortunate. Every single day can feel like you know something else is out there. See that little patch of blue near the bottom? Through that tiny hole is where other people live their lives. You know the blue skies and sunshine are there. You're aware that other people can see it. But all you see are dark clouds ahead of you.
Sometimes you get just a glimpse but the opening isn't enough to jump through to get to the other side. Sometimes your friends reach and pull you through. Sometimes you wriggle through or talk until the opening is bigger. Other times, when the medication is going well, it's mostly sunny and few clouds.
This morning, I watched a video of Robin Williams doing stand-up about the invention of golf and laughed until I cried. Then, I just cried.
A link to the Bloggess where she writes much more frequently than I about how DepressionLies. If you know of someone who needs help, please don't ignore it or think that it will "get better."