My friend Chad and I, NYE 2003, doing what people do then. What I don’t do now.
This week… man, this week. I have been composing this post in my head since Monday evening. That’s when everything I’ve been trying to push to the back of my life and ignore came out and smacked me in the face… because that’s when the news hit everywhere that Robin Williams had taken his life. They actually broke into the CBS Evening News to announce it – and the shock, the sadness, the disbelief was almost universal. It brought into harsh light the questions and fears that have been echoing across discussions since the announcement – what happened that made him decide it was finally too hard? How is it that a man with all the resources possible to get help still was lost? What does this to a person, especially one like him, who brought so much joy and light to the world?
See, if you’re someone like me, someone who has been near the edge of that moment, who lives with the darkness regularly… the only question you have is “if he had that those resources and couldn’t stay alive, what are my chances?” But the folks who don’t understand how Depression works… I feel for y’all. I really do. It’s a bitch to be in the midst of it, but it must be so much worse to see your loved one stuck in this and you can’t see what’s hurting, can’t understand why it’s happening and how it feels, and can’t do a fucking thing about it. That’s why there’s so much hurt happening all over the internet about this loss, I think. It’s weirdly personal – Williams was a celebrity but he made us feel like we knew him, he was really good at breaking through barriers with his antics to find the sort of laughter that made your day better – and there he was, carrying that darkness and pain with him all the time.
I’m not going to pretend that I have something more profound to say about him or what’s happened than anyone else has offered. I can only do what I do best – talk some about my personal journey and why this news shook me up. Because I’d had a blog post brewing before this happened anyway, and then BAM it was much more intense and scary and immediate than anything I’d been dealing with. Because this month marks 10 years that I’ve been sober, one of the best decisions that I ever made in regards to my mental health, even though the social pressure to give it up was harder to navigate than any desire to fall off the wagon. Because the darkness has been overwhelming this Summer, and I know that I’m not the only one feeling it. Because my illness doesn’t make me want to drink or use drugs, but it does prompt me to do stupid shit in a combination mindfuck of trying to make me feel better and momentarily forget the pain, and also give me things to be guilty about so that the pain can come back and drown me again. Yay. Oh yay.
A fantastic failure, one to remember,
when tomorrow comes
And I don’t care no more, I just wanna touch
that magic escape over again
Drinking wasn’t actually an escape for me. Well… yes and no. It cut the pain for a bit. The curse of using depressants to treat Depression is that hello, it’s the same thing eventually. But first? First it works like a bit of a stimulant, and that first high, the feeling of being free and fake-happy and losing inhibitions and all that is ridiculously attractive to someone who fights to keep her head up every day. Then the sucker punch comes… though can you really call it a sucker punch when it happens all too often? I should have learned to expect it. But the part where everything is great is SUCH a relief that I would want to go back to that to the tune of overruling the knowledge that I would regret it when the high wore off and the depressant part kicked in.
This wasn’t my only method of trying to find that golden moment without pain. But it was the most consistent one. There’s a lot of other reckless therapies that people pursue – drugs, sex, risk, overspending, etc. I don’t like talking about my forays into this sort of behavior. It’s embarrassing. But it’s happened, and usually when I feel less risk-adverse, I know that I’m in a bad spot and can stave it off before anything dumb happens.
It’s another one of the reasons why I’m so open about what I go through. It makes it easier to say “I am afraid and I need help” and also for you to say “I recognize this behavior, maybe I’m not alone and it’s okay to ask for help.”
If I hadn’t stopped drinking, I probably would have ended up dead. It made the lows too hard to bear, even as it gave me some highs to comfort me.
I’m passably happy here, despite the face – but still in the throes of a Depressive episode. Funny how that works.
I’m too stubborn to give up. That’s what keeps me going. Maybe that won’t always be the case, but it’s worked for 47 years so far, so there’s that. Robin Williams managed 63 years of fighting it. It wears you down, is the problem. It’s fucking insidious, whispering that you’re a big lie, that no one likes you as much as they say that they do, that when the person you really want to hear from doesn’t call it’s because you’re a loser, that when you do succeed at something it’s only because you’re lucky/they feel sorry for you/it’s a fluke. That eats at you, chips at the resolve. All the positive mantras and meditations and self-love exercises and all that bullshit only can do so much. Man, do I wish that it would banish those voices all the way. Meds didn’t, meditation didn’t. Heh. I just have to keep insisting NO I AM NOT A SHITHEEL I AM A DECENT PERSON STRUGGLING TO BE BETTER.
The personal failures are out of sight
when all is forgotten will you help me rewind?
We’re standing on top of the world tonight
We’re on top of the world tonight
Every day is a repeat of this. Some days are okay. Some days are completely fucking shitty thank you very much and I don’t even want to get out of bed. But I keep reminding myself that even when everything’s shit, that there WILL be better days afterwards. There always has been so far. Sometimes it takes a while to find one. But they’re out there.
If you can’t find that ability to remind yourself, please please please take what resolve you have and call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, at any time, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Or set it up with a trusted friend or family member ahead of time where you can just say a code word and they’ll know you need them more than you ever have before and will have instructions on what to do. You can even email me. I might not be right there but I will listen and I will do whatever I can to get you through. I know how hard it can be to even reach a little, but you are not alone. I swear.
As for me, my fog is lifting a little, but it’s going to take a while. This Summer has screwed up a lot of things for me, with the Depressive episode sapping my momentum and damaging a few relationships. That’s how that goes. I am too familiar with the drill. But I’ll get through. I always do. I’m too stubborn to give up.