I posted this on Facebook yesterday because the passing of Robin Williams hit me so hard. It’s just now that I’m able to really put my thoughts together, and it only seems fitting that I start off with this.
O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
Thank you, for the years of laughs, the great memories, and the movie that, quite literally, changed my life and helped me with my own struggle with depression. It became the namesake for me and my friends, morphing from the ever-popular “Dead Poet’s Society” into our own “Lost Soul’s Society” on a subway train in Manhattan with the best friends a girl could ever ask for. Just weeks later, I mourned the loss of one of those friends, and our namesake was later tattooed on my ankle in his – and our – honor.
All because of a great movie, with a great actor, that helped us understand we were not alone in our fight against depression, and showing us great inspiration that carried over to life.
Godspeed, Robin, and I am sorry that the people and world you helped save and the light you shared with all of us, was unable to save you. Much love to you and your family. You did more than make me laugh, you inspired me to live.
Later today, after a long day on the road, I came back and added to it, with my memories of Good Will Hunting (which I wanted to watch tonight, and has somehow gone missing). It was in response to this shrine that popped up in his honor at that famous bench in Boston: http://www.buzzfeed.com/krystieyandoli/robin-williams-fans-spontaneously-turned-the-good-will-hunti
Similar to how Dead Poet’s Society was a breakthrough moment in my late teens in coping with my own depression, Good Will Hunting followed, and I started for the first time to learn, and truly believe, it wasn’t my fault. Thank you, Robin. And thank you to all of his fans who took the time to do this. I am with you in spirit, one that Robin helped save through his art, through his talent, and through his ability to reach out through a movie screen and touch the lives of those who watched him bring his characters and their stories to life. They were his stories, they were our stories, and he will live on through moments like this. #thankyourobin
And it reminded me of when I thought it was my fault. When depression had a hold on me and dragged me down. And even of my recent struggles of feeling alone again despite a life filled with a busy schedule, amazing friends and family, and a place to call home.
You see, depression doesn’t discriminate. And it rarely attacks the weak, at least in my experience. It needs a strong will and a strong soul to latch on to. One that can fight it and feed it, get ahead of it to feel like you’re winning to realize that your demons aren’t gone, and that they may never really will be.
I suffer from depression. Manic. For many many years. And while I’ve beat it most of the time, most of the ways that I can, recently I slid back into it again. It wasn’t a relapse like I’ve had in past years, but it wasn’t good either. I felt despair, alone, and lost. I fought to keep myself as busy as possible, packing my schedule and sure to always be the life of the party, the planner, and the one at the hub of all work and social plans to ensure that I rarely had a free moment to myself. Because you see, when I did have a free moment to myself, I became lost in my own thoughts and fell back into the fears and patterns of depression and addiction, things I’ve struggled with my whole life.
These two often go hand in hand, like the Genie and Aladdin, a pair that lean on each other, and help each other in a way that you don’t truly understand unless you’ve lived through them both together. They feed into each other, and before you know it, you’re seeking out that depression and addiction because it’s the place your brain starts to call home.
Depression lies. It uses addiction to help. And neither will ever be your friend.
I’ve been suicidal, with, sadly, the scars to prove it. I promised if I could share my story to help just one other person from going through what I went through, that I would forgive myself, and never regret, because I could use it to help save others. And so I share my story with you.
Robin Williams inspired my life in so many ways, and in those two key movies, gave me such inspiration as to cry, fear, and feel broken, while also finding the inspiration that he offered his students in “Dead Poet’s Society” to reach inside of me and salute my captain, and stand up in what I believed in. He gave me the strength to forgive myself in “Good Will Hunting” when he said, “It’s not your fault,” and I wept, because in that line in that movie, I understood, and again I started to have hope that there was light at the end of this tunnel.
No, depression is not for the weak, the coward, or anyone looking for the easy way out. It’s a disease of the strong, a battle of the wills, and when it claims someone we love and inspired us, let it serve as a reminder that it is never the easy way out. It is the hardest end you can imagine, but one you face when you feel all of your other options are far harder, scarier, and worse to face. I am not saying this metaphorically. I am saying this because I have done this, I have lived this, and I have been there. And with eternal thanks to many people in my life, and to Robin Williams for being a key part of that inspiration at two pivotal points in my own young life, I thank you. I thank all of you.
Please do not lament his loss, but revel in his inspiration, and take a moment to understand mental illness better. Sometimes, just listening, sharing a moment, or watching a movie, can make a lifetime of difference.
Thank you, Robin. For teaching me to love myself, look at things from a different point of view, and inspiring me to hold on to my own spark of madness. Goodwill, and Godspeed.