Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Robin Williams, My Depression and Stand-Up

Robin Williams' suicide has me very upset. I've always admired him tremendously. His energy, enthusiasm and wonder that exuded from his personality was a balm to my own depression.

I decided to try something new a few months ago. I decided to take a stand-up comedy class. It’s been a real challenge for me because of my depression, but I’ve been studying Williams’ old routines and marveling at his gift.

Someone so successful and who brought so much joy to people chooses suicide. I just feel so overwhelmingly sad.

I am not surprised, but angry, not at him, but at depression.

How can there be such a horrible illness that makes us want to end our lives? That makes us feel so overwhelmed that we just can’t live anymore?

I find myself in a haze. I find myself obsessing over his death.

When we connect to a celebrity in a strong way through their performances and interviews, we really do begin to feel like we know them. I feel like my crazy, goofy uncle died.

But I didn’t know him. But I keep wanting to be able to go back in time and be his friend and be there when the darkness got too deep. And I know that is just silly because he had friends and family and they loved him and he loved them, but still, tragedy happens.

That might be the hardest part—knowing that sometimes suicide happens and it’s horrible, but you can’t go back. You can’t change it.

Maybe that’s the real issue that’s rising for me now. I can’t go back in time. I can’t change anything. I can’t change my own past.

I can’t go back and make my mother well. I can’t go back and make better choices when I was younger. And I can’t seem to make my depression go away for good.

We just can’t.

I am clinging to my wonderful outer world—loving husband, three great kids, work I like, creative challenges—but my inner world goes back and forth between wanting to allow me to be great and wanting to destroy me.

I keep trying. I will keep trying.

I did my first open mike a few weeks ago; it was terrifying. The laughs I got felt good. Being onstage again felt good.

I understand why I’ve always needed to perform in some way, to have people look at me—because that’s when I can be someone else, that’s when I can break free of depression’s strangle on me. It’s all about looking out instead of in.

Tonight is our final class. And maybe I’ll try the open mike again. I need the escape. The release from the inner demons.

I want to be free to laugh. I want to bring joy to the world.

Robin Williams, thank you. You brought joy to me. I’m sorry the pain was too much. You will be missed.