My hiatus from writing is still in effect (know that we have made it safely to our new home, and are still in the process of getting settled). But today I feel the need to write this…
I imagine you heard the collective gasp the world let out last night, when news of Robin Williams’ passing reached the masses. I think it is safe to say that it was an event that left many thousands of hearts aching, regardless of whether or not they personally new him, including my own.
It was a moment that stunned us all, I think. Such an outwardly loving and happy person, always bringing absolute gold to the lives he touched. A genius in his own right.
I never new he struggled with depression. I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised, many of those in the theatre industry have great struggles in their lives. I believe this is part of what makes them great. They have reached the depths of emotion that it takes to truly create another, believable, struggling human being. They truly understand what it’s like. It brings their characters to life in the most tangible way possible, yet it is a true - and sometimes deadly - struggle for those that portray them.
I have often wondered if the reason I am in love with acting, with theatre, is because I too have had my own struggles in life. Unpleasant events (markedly weighted more heavily than the good ones) throughout my life have shaped who I’ve become today. I am glad for that. I think it gives me a unique perspective on things, and it allows me to look at many things in ways others somehow miss.
At the same time, I know that my past also has a negative affect on my present life.
You see, I struggle with depression, too. It has taken me to some really dark places. I saw a counselor for a while (even was on medication for a short stint). I’m doing pretty well now. But while I tend to have more better days than bad ones, it is always there. Kind of haunting me in the back of my head. I have learned that it triggers suddenly, often without much warning. It manifests in many different ways, but most often withdrawn sadness and tears, and even anger. It can last a few hours, or it can last months and years.
I am more than thankful that I’ve never really harbored the thought of ending my own life. But the idea that it could just sneak up on you is terrifying.
That seems to be how it happens, though. So many people, who seem to be moving right along, doing so well. And suddenly, they’re gone.
It could be me. It might be you.
I’ve repeatedly been conflicted about seeking help. When I hit a dark moment, I know I should be talking to someone. But the clouds clear (however temporarily), and somehow it’s gone, and my head tells me I’m past that. And I don’t find the help I should get for the next time (because my rational mind knows there will be a next time).
I don’t want the label. I don’t want to be questioned and investigated, to risk losing my children, my family.
But I really need to do it. Because there always is a next time.
If you’ve got loved ones that struggle, help them get help. Be there for them.
But if it is you, be there for yourself. Get help.
If you’re struggling right now, please know that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is there to help. If you’re in that dark place, please give them a call. 1-800-273-8255