I have a list of topics to blog/write about scrawled across the walls of the numerous rooms in my mind. Some have been swept away. Some have been replaced. Most have been forgotten.
I remembered one of the topics today after reading the news of BMX superstar Dave Mirra’s self-inflicted gunshot wound. I know of him from a skateboard / BMX video game I played in my youth. I remember playing his character. I remember doing the 360s and wheelies with his character.
I was reminded of the topic because of the nature of Mirra’s death. Suicide.
There’s been a lot of celebrity deaths recently. I can only count the number of times I felt truly sad from a celebrity’s passing in one hand. Lou Reed from a few years ago was one of them. As a huge Velvets fan, it broke my heart. I played the Velvet Underground’s self-titled album and White Light/White Heat on repeat for weeks. I jammed and danced to the seventeen minute epic Sister Ray in the dark of my room.
But there’s no celebrity death that truly made me bawl my fucking eyes out but Robin Williams’ passing.
Truth be told, I’m not that big a fan of Williams’. But I did love his movies in my youth. I laughed and cried and became overjoyed every time I saw him onscreen. He was the true blue comedian of my childhood. A great actor in both dramatic roles and comedy. My God, I could almost hear the laughter from my youth echoing ‘til now.
I’m certain that we all know by now his cause of death. Suicide. Reports confirm that the suicide was brought on by physical illness. He was battling severe depression, yes, but it was his Lewy Body Dementia that ultimately caused him to hang himself.
Robin Williams’ death affected me in ways that I never thought possible. I was there in my room in the dark, in front of my laptop, crying and crying. Here was a man who loved to make people laugh. Here was a man who brought joy to millions of people via the characters he portrays. Here was a man who had helped a lot of people, who inspired them, to live their lives one laughter at a time. And he took his own life.
I saw myself in him. I related with him so much. Too much. I love making people laugh and smile. I love helping people out when they need help. And this was in 2014 when I wasn’t in one of my “suicide modes” yet.
I don’t remember if it was hours after the news of his death came out or the day after, but Armi Millare of Up dharma Down posted an entry on her blog that made me bawl my eyes out again. For the life of me, I do not remember the exact content of the blog entry. I did bookmark the entry, but she took it down months later. She wrote a truly inspiring piece about holding on to dear life even though you’re in hell at that moment because the next day might turn things around. Again, I was in front of my laptop in my dark room and I cried and cried and cried. When I managed to calm myself down, I tweeted her my gratitude for what she wrote. Said that I needed that.
I did need that it at the time. I was already thinking about ending my life then, even though I had no logical reason to, and reading that became the equivalent of talking me off of the ledge. She might have saved my life at that very moment.
I was talking to a new friend, whom I shall refer to as Lamb Princess Mermaid, last night about life and depression and other stuff. We ended up talking about my mom’s suicide and it made me realize so many things that I never would have realized had I never sought treatment. I swear, deep conversations with strangers can be enlightening.
Anyway, I realized that why I do what I do, help people with mental illness out by talking to them and by being there for them, is all because of two things. My mother’s suicide and my own experiences.
I want to be there for those like me and my mother because no one was there for her and me when we needed them. Not in the context that people like us “need,” anyway. Don’t get me wrong, my family and closest friends and confidantes were there for me in my darkest times – and they were helpful in their own ways. As I’m sure my mother’s were there for her in hers. But it’s a different story when the people who’re helping you don’t fully understand, cannot fathom, what you’re going through. It’s a story that could otherwise have a tragic ending. The wrong things could be said to the sufferer that could ultimately lead to that tragic ending.
The expression “it takes one to know one” applies here. It takes a fellow sufferer of mental illness to know and understand what the sufferer goes through – even if they do not share the same diagnosis and/or experiences. Every case is different. Every person’s brain operates differently. There are myriads of levels of anxiety and depression and meltdowns. There are thousands, millions, of ways that the brain can fuck us up. But the level of understanding that we have regarding what scares us and makes us cry at night and what drives closer to the edge of pure madness is heightened.
“I know what you are going through.” Such an overwhelming statement when heard. But knowing is, oftentimes, just not enough.
“I feel what you are going through. I’m here for you.” That’s what most of us broken ones need to hear.