This is an inner journey. A journey of the spiritual and mundane and about being human. An imperfect journey. My journey.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams

Robin Williams is dead, and apparent suicide.There's a huge hole tonight in the Universe and in many hearts where Robin Williams use to be, including mine. The world always feels very strange to me when someone I have had an emotional connection to dies. It feels hollow; the absence echoes in a low vibration that affects my equilibrium. Everything feels just a bit off and unreal, the way it feels when first awakening from a dream state. And always-always- the memories come. Not in a rush or flood, but more  the way rain fills cracks in a sidewalk.

When Dead Poet's Society was filmed in Middletown, DE, they used St. Andrew's School on Noxontown Lake as the location. Spent a lot of childhood summers there because my folks rented a cottage across the lake from the school; later I became a Bishop's Chaplain through the Episcopal Diocese which owned the school. A team from the diocese was sent to St. Andrew's as technical advisors, and I was among them. Later I was an extra in a crowd scene in front of the Everett Theater, too. We didn't work directly with Robin Williams, but after our scenes, he took the time to thank us...and the point is...he didn't have to do that. The good guys in the industry do things like that, they're aware of the details and are sensitive to others' contributions, no matter how small. He was a caring and dynamic person.
I often have a feeling before this type of thing occurs-when bad things happen. Not exactly in the traditional way we think of premonitions. I do not get up in the morning thinking, " Someone is going to die today." It's more in general terms, that things around me begin to feel heavier and quiver. It feels the way I imagine cats and dogs are said to sense an impending earthquake that they can do nothing about. I just dig in and wait for it to hit. Perhaps it's a signal from my own Darkness that things are about to be "shaken up". I do not like sudden change because like most people, I do not do well with it. It is one of the triggers of for my depression. It pulls me down into the vortex of emotional upheaval where I do not want to go. Sometimes I can catch myself and only get sucked in a little. Other times it's like I'm walking along and the earth opens up and swallows me. The way I survive is to accept my feelings and go with them, or if I can get a handle on it early, to detach, observe and try to understand what's taking place.The demons of depression thrive on moments when I lack clarity.In fact, they lap it up like fine caviar.  It isn't easy to regain my equilibrium, and I can't always do it effectively. I recognize most of my triggers and have formulated coping strategies which occasionally work but I know can just as easily fail. The first time this happened ( after I was gang raped) the depression I expected failed to materialize right away; I was blindsided when it finally did and found myself standing on a curb determining the exact size of large truck it would take to effectively off myself because I didn't want to be merely maimed, I wanted to be dead, damn it all. Thank God-or Whoever is up there watching out for fools like me- that my rational mind drowned out the small, nasty voice of my Darkness that was hissing," Do it, you coward". I have beaten the Darkness on quite a few occasions in the past years and  lived to tell the story. But there is always a fear in the back of my mind that someday I will not....and I will tell you why. Because the Darkness is always there, waiting. Anyone who tells you that they woke up one morning and they're depression was miraculously gone through the power of positive thinking or any other little trick is either a fool or outright lying. It is never completely gone, and there is no way to cure it permanently. Panacea and the medicinal belief in unicorn farts are both simply theories.  

The authorities are labeling Robin Williams' death a suicide, but the truth is that he died as he result of his battle with depression. Using the word 'battle' is not being overly dramatic; somedays it's nothing short of hand to hand combat. I read somewhere that he went back to rehab numerous times for treatment of his drug addiction,and for that he should be commended. I'm not being judgemental when I say that it's a sad fact that the combination of the two were the demons that took him over. Sometimes,no matter what you do or how hard you try, how hard you have faith and pray, or how hard you hope, the demons win. The very best you can do is to occasionally push them into the background and try to live your life as well as you can until something lets them loose to fuck with you again. It doesn't take much; I know from personal experience. Depression takes away your joy and stomps your spirit into the ground, and often, it makes you feel worthless and puts you into a place of self-loathing. The hole you're pushed into is abysmal, and you're not only left looking at that tiny point of light at the top, you wonder what the hell you did to deserve feeling the way you do. There is no answer, and no matter how much cognitive therapy you engage in, no matter how many medications you take, no matter what kind of wonderful support system you have, no mater how good your coping skills're swept away...and the Darkness wins. Depression kills, and today it killed one of the greatest comedic geniuses of our time.

I have come to the conclusion that my acquaintance with the Darkness part of my life's journey. It will allow me to live functionally in fits and starts- but it is always, always waiting just around the corner to trip me. I have learned to manage the ups and downs with the knowledge that the feeling will not last ...and the twisted comfort that suicide is a reasonable option if things get to be too much. I suspect by  his actions, Robin Williams shared that twisted comfort. Most of us subject to major depressive episodes, or whatever they're calling it in mental health circles these days, have this ideation. It is not unique or original and it underscores why it is necessary for our society-and even those in the field of mental health-to take the symptoms of depression very, very seriously. True depression is lifelong illness and that fact must be accepted and dealt with.You do not choose it, it's not something you just snap out of, and you cannot cure it, no matter how much medication prescribed or New Age snake oil you subscribe to. I will never be free from the Darkness, but I will constantly be figuring out new ways to kick it's ass.