I think my reaction to the new of Robin William’s death is the same of most of my generation. The manically funny man we met as an alien on Happy Day, loved as transvestite Nanny, caring doctor, entertaining war radio host, our generation’s Fisher King is gone. We are stunned to have such a stalwart companion that made us laugh gone.
Many are asking how could he? Depression that’s how. But he had everything! And still battled depression. If he only knew who loved love, had felt this outpouring that’s happening! It might not have mattered – that’s depression.
As someone who has battled depression on some level for many years I felt for him and his family. I’ve never been suicidal. Thank goodness I can say that. Many with depression cannot. However I can see falling that far down the rabbit hole. I had something in me that didn’t, though bent and at time feeling broken never gave way.
You see depression isn’t sadness it’s an aching void. It’s deep pain of nothingness except the ache to feel again. You want to know happiness, you know you should feel it but eh – nothing. Tears come but truly they are hollow wanting a good reason for someone like you with all the benefits you have to feel this way. A reason. Finally, you either reach out to all those hands reaching in to help and begin to find the way out or you fall deeper.
It’s not a one time process. Think of learning to walk – you didn’t walk until you ready no matter how much your family wanted you to. They could hold you up on your feet and drag you along but if you weren’t ready as soon as they let go DOWN you went. When the child is ready to try one help up doesn’t put them on their feet running. There are many starts, falls, stops and goes again. Same with people under treatment for depression. Also just as a devastating injury can cause a person to learn to walk again – a devastating injury (psychological or physical) can send someone with depression back to that spiral.
Robin couldn’t reach out again, learn to walk yet again, stand ever again. The soul gets tired, woefully tired in depression. I understand that. I ache for him and wish someone, anyone could have handed him just what he needed to reach out one more time. But would he have taken it? seen it? known it for what it was?
As for me I’ve learned some self care. That I need this and that. I’ve learned to evaluate myself and not be too proud to allow people who want to help me – help me. I’ve learned it’s better to admit I what I need than fall down again. I’ve learned with these skills and medication when needed I don’t have to soul tiredly empty. I have learned to see the hands reaching out to help and grasp them. Sure sometimes I forget, get a case of do-it-myselfs but then I get over it because somewhere in me a voice always whispers ‘this too shall pass, nothing lasts for ever joy or void.’ Then I know I want to see what’s next.
I think artistic people stand with one foot on confidence boarding on arrogance to think we have a story to tell that others want to hear, or that he could make people laugh and forget their troubles for a moment, or create a painting that makes people think, or make a photo that changes how someone sees the world. That’s what an artist believes deep in the root of their being. But the other foot is stands on the darkest self-doubt there is one that questions if they not only have value as an artist but as a person. Move both feet to either one and you’re in trouble. Move both feet to either one and art suffers. Creative people explore both often simultaneously because that is what the world is made of, light and dark, joy and sadness, black and white – and everything between each of those opposites. It knowing that others help us keep the right balance there on those two poles. It is knowing that life happens right there between those poles.
My heart aches that Robin lost his balance. The world dims a moment when the bright ones pass. But we need not look to the void to see or wonder about Robin – his gifts are in the light, the smile, the laughs, and those stupid rainbow suspenders I wore in 8th grade. Shazbot! Robin we will miss you but dearly hope you found what you need on the other side of this life. Thanks for all the joy you gave millions, we just wish you could have taken a smile from us in return.