Tuesday, August 12, 2014

O Captain! My Captain!

It's taken me a while to write and edit this post because I needed time to process what happened yesterday.  I lost a friend.  I grew up with a lovable alien from Ork, who taught me to sit upside in chairs, though the adults in charge never seemed to think it was acceptable behavior.  I thought having an egg I could crawl into would be the coolest, coziest thing ever, and I learned from experience that one should never put dandelions in their mouth.

Robin Williams invaded my childhood by force with his many movies, whether he was voicing a much beloved Disney character or helping us believe in fairies.  I have to admit that Mrs. Doubtfire was the movie that stole my heart.  It taught me about divorce, the power of love parents have for their children, that food allergies are very serious, and why you should never bring a donkey to a party.  (And come on, run by fruiting?  That provided the greatest excuse for childhood scuffles in the universe.)  My heart was so sad every time I watched the movie, because I knew Mrs. Doubtfire wasn't a real person.  By the time the movie came out, I was old enough to realize that Mickey Mouse was a guy in a really hot costume and my parents lied about Santa and the tooth fairy.  Neither of these facts upset me nearly as much as knowing that Mrs. Doubtfire, who seemed like the perfect houseguest, would never be seen again.  (Honestly, I was even more put out that I didn't have a British cross-dressing nanny, because my life could have turned out so differently, but that's a different story altogether.)

As I grew up, the jokes became funnier, and I had the good fortune to realize Robin Williams was just as good at dramatic acting, evoking many emotions I didn't even know existed.  I've seen almost every movie he has ever made.  No, I never met Robin in real life, but I feel like he influenced me in many ways.

I have hope, since his tragic death, for many things.  First and foremost, I hope that he has found the peace his tortured soul needed.  He deserves it.  Secondly, I hope that we as a society can finally come to the realization that mental illnesses need just as much focus, care, and study as their physical counterparts.  These diseases are sometimes more painful than any physical symptom or disease could ever be, and we need to learn compassion in treating and helping those who suffer.  People who find the courage to seek treatment should never be made to feel as if they can just "get over it" or try harder.  These diseases are out of the sufferer's control, and they can no more fix themselves than a person with cancer can put themselves into remission.  I hope we can finally learn that this is a serious problem and that every resulting death is a tragedy we must seek to prevent.

Lastly,  I hope that any person who suffers in any way will find the strength to seek help in whatever form they need it.  At the very least, please talk to a friend.  While no one can truly understand the plight of another person, there are always those who will listen.  Please, call me.  Email me.  Come stay on my couch in the apartment that is always a total wreck because I, too, face days where the pressure of the world is too much, and I just can't do it.  I know that life can be complete shit with no relief in sight or light at the end of the tunnel.  I know what it is to be so overwhelmed with worry and fear that you just wish you could stop feeling everything.  In fact, this blog hasn't been updated in nearly a year.  I've written so many things and then immediately deleted them all because I knew they weren't good enough, that I wasn't good enough. These struggles are my own, but I will help in any way that I can, even if it is just to listen or cry along with you.

The truth is, there is no magic answer to solve these problems, and the solutions may require a patience that seems impossible to achieve on top of everything else.  But the bigger, more important truth is that you are not alone.  You are worth it, you are good enough, and you are loved, despite the fact that your brain tells you otherwise.  You are needed, right here and right now.  Depression lies, and so many of us have to remind ourselves of that fact every day.  Please, reach out, and I promise you will realize just how many of us there are.  We are bigger than the lies, and we will face them together.

We need to remember Robin Williams for the many laughs he gave us, and the gifts of his talents he so selflessly shared, but we must also remember the man and the struggle and always do our best to help others so we can make this world a better place.  I believe it's what he would have wanted.

Nanu nanu, my friends.