Thursday, August 14, 2014
Robin Williams is dead. The news startled many, including me. Because he was so admired. Because he made us laugh. At ourselves. At the world. At everything.
But for those of us who have suffered clinical depression, this event was special because he killed himself--something many of us have contemplated. And perhaps even those of us who have been treated, take medication, practice positive thinking, exercise regularly, get plenty of light, keep learning new things, socialize with friends, and maintain a project in life, still do from time to time. When the dark matter and energy overcome our outward expansion and start compressing us inwards.
We understand why. It is simply to flee the insufferable pain. It is a useless, irrational, purposeless pain we know when we think about it. But thinking about it often doesn’t help, and may make it worse. We know how fragile we are but don't want to admit it for fear of using it to manipulate others which simply adds to our self-loathing.
Yes, self-loathing—a sense of self which is useless, incompetent, without value. A self that looks at others and grandizes their accomplishments, products and achievement we cannot even understand much less duplicate. A sense of self that is not a partner with or part of others, but a competitor in some sort of race to nothing. A sense that I am not God, in control. I'm not even Robin Williams or Barack Obama.
Stupid, of course. But whether caused by genes or memes, heredity or culture (and certainly both are related), there it is. I am what I yam, as Robin William’s Popeye says. And I am grateful.
So Robin died. And so will I. He died earlier than he had to. But don't too many of us do so?—the kids shot at Sandyhook, the kids in Gaza shelled while playing football on the beach, the kids without healthcare, the kids killed in a car crash or in a drone strike or terrorist attack. Suffering and dying--that's life. Unnecessary suffering and dying—stopping it should be our project.
I will keep up my regimen to overcome my tendency to ruminate in depression even when I see my depression as a heightened state of consciousness, an insight into reality.
But I will follow the greatest advice that Robin gave us from the dead poet: Carpe Diem!
Thanks, Robin. You were a gift to us all.