So in one way or another, I’ve been feeling very sorry for myself lately. This week in particular it’s been a bout of flu or cold or something akin to bubonic plague that’s knocked me off my feet. It’s made me weak and weary, I’m coughing and sneezing and walking is a chore. But it’s getting better, it’s temporary and soon enough I’ll be back to my semi miserable best. Today though, my heart is heavy because one of my childhood idols lost his battle with depression and took his own life. I woke to call in sick and saw the news on my facebook feed. It has saddened me greatly because Robin Williams was the cause of so much joy in my life, he brought so many smiles and giggles to me over the years. I remember Mork and Peter Panning, Patch Adams and Mrs Doubtfire. I can still sing along to Friend Like Me from Aladdin (and attempted to this afternoon with my best croak) and Birdcage has had me in stitches so many times I couldn’t tell you.
What’s sad, is that for all the laughter and smiles Robin Williams has brought to my and millions of others lives, it’s a shame we weren’t able to do the same for him. If we his fans, the people whose lives he benefited over the years, could have given a percent of effort each that he gave to us, could we have helped him.
I strongly believe not. I believe that each persons depression is their own demon, it’s untouchable by others. It’s the monster under your bed that only you can ever fully perceive. For me, it’s never being good enough, it’s feeling like a failure constantly and paranoid-ly assuming that everyone is thinking the worst. So every night before I go to bed, I take a tablet and it helps me get through the next day without anxiety so strong that my imagination takes me the very dark places. On the outside, depression or anxiety isn’t necessarily visible, you can be perceived to have everything. For me, that’s a good job, (that’s temporary and I’m paranoid I’ll get sacked every day) a nice new car (what if I can’t afford it in a year?) great friends and family (I’m positive several members of my family wouldn’t notice if I disappeared) and hey, I’m kinda a published author (barely sold any books, had to give them away and nobody likes them anyway)
So you see, there’s a flip side. You might not know the person who cracks the jokes and keeps you laughing is tearing themselves up inside. In fact they won’t want you to know and it isn’t your fault if ultimately they can’t take it and step away like RW did yesterday. For me, that’s not going to happen. I loved him as an idol, I’m sad for his death but no mistake, it’s a selfish hurtful act to take yourself away from your family. I’m not judging, that’s the last thing I’d ever do. It isn’t for me to paint your monster any colour than the one you see yourself.
Sadness is curable, but I fear depression is not. It’s manageable but it’s a bastard of a beast and if you’re lucky enough never to have truly experienced it, keep your eyes open for the friend who has and does, because there will be one and you might be the one to help them through it.
‘No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world’ Robin Williams