Thursday, August 14, 2014

Captain, my captain...

This is a personal note for those that either need to read what I am writing or for my own understanding. My intention is to be open with my own understandings. I am in no way commenting on the overall and general understanding of mental health or human suffering. I hope that what I give here is understood as it is intended. 

Recently the whole of the entertainment and American public were shocked to hear of the death of Robin Williams. I like many were shocked to hear that such a wonderfully talented actor was no longer on the living plane. I immediately when to the internet for answers finding that his death was suspected and then confirmed as a suicide. I was even more shocked and heartbroken to learn that his actions were a result of a lifelong fight against depression. I asked, what could a man so funny be so depressed about to seek silence in such a way? I also asked, is this the cost of the line light? Do all the greats die young burnt out from flames fueled by passion and heart? Is there hope for those of us that have talent but have yet to be struck by a spotlight? I was flooded by the questions of hope in such a dark ending. Then I remembered the scenes from Dead Poet’s Society, The World According to Garp, and my favorite scene from Good Will Hunting. Matt Damon is making fun of Robin Williams’s deceased wife, Matt laughs making obscene comments about a picture she painted. Williams suddenly lunges at Damon pushing him against the wall. Damon is shocked as quiet rage rolls off of Williams’ face. Williams says in a low and direct voice, “If you ever say anything about my wife again I will fucking end you.” Right there, like myself, movie goers were thrown off their seats with one comment from a man who used to stand on his head saying, “Nanu Nanu.” I wondered where Williams had gotten his understanding of loss so great that it leap from the screen and shook the audience awake. Now it would seem that this scene for Williams may have not been acting, it may have been how he felt every moment for a very long time. I much like the proverbial hero looked deep into the void and found that it was looking just as deeply back into me. I understood what Williams was saying in that scene, I understood the loss, and now I can understand that for him life was more battle than banter. The point I make here is that we all have demons deep in our hearts, the question is do we fight them free them or give in to them? Why the loss and struggle of a funny man speaks so fervently to me is because I am afraid at times that like Robin Williams I may seek silence rather than die alone screaming in the darkness. 
The reason why it is relevant is that in my own wonderings I too have almost given in. For the last seven years I have been in active consoling. I attend both private and group sessions at The White Raven Center in Anchorage Alaska. It is through the good work and guidance of the facilitators Marianne, Floyd, Cathy, Toby, Rebecca and others that I am still here. Not that I was at any point ready to go quietly into that good night, I was moreover always there on the edge looking out over the void. Some might say that I have not had reason to be so morbidly depressed or suicidal. Some might say that their struggle is harder than mine so I should man up. Other still would say that we all have issues so keep calm and carry on (I loath that phrase not for its meaning but more of its usage). I say to that from an earlier and angrier voice, “GO FIRETRUCK YOURSELVES!” Now that I have had lots of time to heal I can say openly to those that question my journey “Go and help yourself. I will if I can be there to witness your healing and support you as you need in doing it. You have all the weapons you need to battle the darkness inside, now you only need to choose to fight. 
In my own life I have a father who ditched me before I was born. I was born with a disease that made me, in the eyes of others, weak and broken. I have family members that chose to “check out” of life rather than live it. I have a mother that married a man who tried to drown me in a pool. She then chose to flee that marriage only to choose to give me up as her son to try and make a life with that same man. I was married at a young age to a woman who was the only reason I graduated High School. I fathered a child with the love of my life, and I lost both of them in the blink of an eye to the idiocy of a drunk driver. I was blamed for their deaths because I missed a phone call. I was (and still am) outcast from everyone that I thought loved me and supported me. I stood for ten years alone in the dark, screaming, waiting for death to get it over with. I have walked calm into that good night, but I have raged internally against the dying of a light I could care less about. I did what I thought a man was supposed to do, suck it up and keep it all on the inside. I can now say that even though I had my head above water I rarely remembered to breath. Until I made the choice to come back into life I was lost. I can see the old me standing angry and alone cutting into his soul just as he cut into his flesh over a hundred times. I carry those scars upon me, but they do not make me what I am. 
Now that I have complied the outline for madness which I have lived I can better offer the point. No one needs to stay silent, or calm, or strong, or nice, or proper, or anything if they don’t need to. Robin Williams kept his struggle silent and internal. He chose to leave the world instead of continue to live in it. He may have been able to come back from the void if he had felt validated in choosing to live with the support of others. Who is to say that he didn’t; I am noting that is still not okay in today’s society to broken. Broken meaning that you don’t want to live, or get out of bed, or stop crying, or stop punching the wall. Broken as in unable to remember those parts of yourself that broke off because it was too much to carry on. The soul parts shattered from your core so that you could keep walking forward without pain. Broken as in you can remember what it is to be not broken. Broken as I was, broken as in moments I can remember where I too longed for to be over. Being broken is not the issue, the issue is that bring open about being broken is something best left alone in the dark. And to all of that I say again, “FIRETRUCK THAT!” 
There is no need for people feel bad over wanted help. There is nothing wrong with having issues if you openly look for the opportunity to resolve them. We are human so there is no reason to feel bad or guilty in needing people to be humane. There is no reason to be alone in the dark because you do not want to burden anyone else. Your silence is not golden, your madness is not rude, your struggle is does not lack merit, your heart does not need to beat alone. As I write this I am worked up slightly because of how important I feel this is to everyone. The point, behind my ranting, is that no one need go alone, its dangerous out there take this, my (anyone’s) hand. I cannot fix it, but in the least I can listen to it and walk with you as you battle it. Again, you have all the weapons you need, now fight, and know that your need not fight alone. 
I am sad with the loss of the person and the talent of Robin Williams. I am sadder that he went alone into the night. I am even sadder that he is not alone in the struggle that claimed him. I hope that even with the loss we can see that there is no point to it for anyone else. If you need to be heard speak up and someone will listen, I did.