Sunday , March 3 2024
Robin Williams's comedy was part of my recovery. I watched until I could recite his jokes by heart. His death is especially hurtful because it was his comedy I often returned to for relief

An Open Letter to the Suicidal and the Disease of Depression (R.I.P. Robin Williams)

Hey Depression,

You heartless, relentless bastard. How could you?

You know what I’m talking about. You took them away, piece by piece until they died: My friend from the support group. My husband’s fellow Marines. Robin Williams. You’ve taken people I’ve never met, but who were known and loved by my family members and my friends. You tried to take me.

Your consistency is appalling. Your only criterion is “human.” You’re an equal opportunity whore of souls and reaper of everything that makes a person a person.

ajar_door_light_beam_concept_memo_notepad-r818d85dc5a6442b7af4d792ff2836eb1_amb08_8byvr_512You’ll pick on anyone with the least amount of trouble and some who have no troubles at all. Your trophy shelf is brimming with people who suffered as children, who’ve lost loved ones, those who bring all of us immeasurable joy, and those whose worst sin is simply being alone. Your “I love me wall” is filled with the names of those you didn’t even have to try to take down because they were born with predispositions and paved paths you took full advantage of like a murderous squatter. You suck their worlds into your numbing vortex and spit out fractions of who they used to be. No sooner do they reclaim the least bit of themselves, then here the hell you come again.

Everyone else’s ignorance and disbelief is your best disguise. So few know what you look like, what you sound like, what you feel – well, that’s the clincher isn’t it? There’s something about the feelings you can’t stand. You take them one by one and camouflage the emptiness to look like sorrow, rage, and apathy. You make us intolerable to be around. You make it damned near impossible to be medicated. You haunt our dreams and lay waste to our motivation and energy. You kill us in installments and you just won’t fucking stop until we lay waste to what little remains in your wake.

We don’t cry because of you. We cry because you methodically strip away who we are, and we mourn new losses every single minute of every day. We don’t sleep because of you. We sleep because we’re exhausted from dealing with you, from confronting you when you try to convince us that those little slices of death are wondrous previews for some grand main event.

You know doctors will x-ray possibly broken bones to confirm they’re broken, but they won’t scan possibly depressed brains to confirm you’re there. You know what kind of relief, comfort, and strength could be had if they did, if the person who’s being told to “get over it” could point to the scan and say, “There it is! Look!” You know how easy it is to hide when so few are willing to admit there’s an enemy.

You tried to get me. You worked really hard at it. Some days I was sure I had you on the run, but you always came roaring back. And if it hadn’t been for the light I sought, the comedies I watched, the drugs I took, the therapy I attended, the pages of notebooks I made thick with ink, the sketch pads I went after with too heavy a hand, my kids’ tiny fingers lifting the covers off my head and asking for breakfast, the – I don’t know what the turning point was. I know what kept my head above water until I was finally able to make it to the shore, but I don’t know what kept me from drowning – in my sleep, or when I was alone in the car that time, or when I was right there at the edge with nothing and no one to stop me. You heartless piece of shit, I don’t know so I can’t tell others.

Robin Williams’s comedy was part of my recovery. I watched until I could recite his jokes by heart. His death is especially hurtful because it was his comedy I often returned to for relief. That I feel your pain revisiting is infuriating.

But neurology is onto you, bitch. They know where you live. They know what you look like. Soon they’re going to know how you got there, what your disguises are, what tunnels you use for escape, and what kills you.

We already know you hate light. We know you hate blood flow from running, jumping, and playing. You hate the interference that comes from pharmaceuticals and fresh produce. You hate the disruption of someone talking about you to others. And you hate when someone finds something that makes them laugh louder than you scream.

I’m not alone in my pursuit of you, of ruining you once and for all. The walls of ignorance, stigma, and prejudice that have long been your shelter are coming down. You can’t keep hiding. Too many are gunning for you. Your days are numbered. That number is 1-800-273-8255. Page two below ad.

Dearest People Who Are Suffering With Depression and Suicidal,

Get the help you need to deal with this right now. The hotline number is 1-800-273-8255.

I know you’ve been dealing with this for so long and what’s one more day or week? I know it sucks to be alone and feel alone. So many, too many are. And the brain telling itself “no one cares and you’re hopeless” just makes it worse because that’s not true.

The Suicide Hotline is also a crisis line and a help line. You don’t have to be suicidal or in crisis to call them. You know your ups and downs, and you know they’re going to happen even if you don’t know when. Trying to get help when you are desperate for it is almost always a losing proposition because the pain you’re in when you’re desperate is exhausting and self-depleting. Don’t wait until you’re desperate. It’s okay to call when you’re “just” depressed. I say “just” mockingly because so many depressed people have a habit of comparing themselves to others who are worse off or comparing themselves to how badly they’ve felt before – and they use this to justify not getting themselves help right now.

The people who work the crisis line know where the resources are in your area and they will work beyond that initial phone call to make sure you get the help you need to include affordable or free medical help.

Please call now: 1-800-273-8255. It doesn’t matter whether you feel like you “need” it right now or “deserve” it at all. Those thoughts are not you; those thoughts are the depression. It’s something you have, not something you are. All I care about is that you make that call. Tell them what’s going on. Yes, they will listen. Yes, they will care.

Be honest about how you’re feeling or how you’re not feeling anything, how you’ve felt before and how you expect to be feeling tomorrow or next week. I know it changes; I know you have bad days, worse days, and some not-so-bad days. It’s okay to tell them you feel “stupid,” “silly,” or like you’re “wasting” their time. Go ahead and get all that out of the way because they won’t hang up on you. There is no “right time” to call. Right now is the right time. You trusted me enough to read this far, so please trust me enough to tell you the right thing to do: Call right now.

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About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.

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  1. Robin Williams couldn’t resist his destiny, which was to burn out and die. I never watched him because it was too terrible.

    When I first saw Williams on TV I figured he’d come to a bad end, probably after too much drugs and personal turmoil and public disappointments. So I vowed to avoid his shows, movies and appearances, to avoid being seduced by his popularity and his successes, and thus imitate his over-indulgence in the pursuit of happiness. Because, as we all know, and have known for some time, there is no happiness in over-indulgence. We may not know what happiness is, but we know that over-indulgence cannot force happiness. How horrible it is to have so much talent, and money, and opportunity as Williams and not be happy. As if standing outside a store, looking thru the window, unable to touch the happiness inside because of the pane of glass.

    And we stand aside and laugh at his curious antics. Why? Can not every person see the unhappy man behind the mask of comedy? Why are we so strangely relieved when the laugh line comes, when he screams “good morning vietnammmm”? Is it so important to each of us that Robin Williams dispels uncertainty and gloom with a forced humor?

    Did we all contribute to his misery by laughing?

    • Bliffle, I don’t want to dismiss the personal reasons you had for avoiding Robin Williams’ comedy. One man’s meat is another man’s poison.

      The rest of us, though, didn’t contribute to his misery by laughing. “Good morning Vietnammm” isn’t forced humor. It’s gallows humor, a defiant resistance to being overcome by the darkness. Many, like Diana Hartman, have used Robin Williams’ comedy (the light as well as the dark) to help them kick depression in the hinderquarters. Knowing this couldn’t have made Williams miserable.

      By laughing and clamoring for more, we would have been encouraging Williams’
      misery, if his comedy had been fueled by alcohol and illegal drugs. It’s
      more likely that his ad-libbing brilliance, for example, was an in-born
      gift, and the tendency toward correspondingly excruciating depressions
      was an in-born curse, one whose effects he tried unsuccessfully to
      mitigate with alcohol.

      • It is “…gallows humor, a defiant resistance to being overcome by the darkness.”

        I decided to not go into that darkness with Robin, so I had no (additional) depression to overcome.