Don’t Try (Suicide).

13 Aug

For the last day or so I’ve been processing. Reading. Absorbing. The news of the untimely and tragic death of Robin Williams has put me in a tailspin. Not only were some of his movies my most favorite and life-defining (Dead Poets’ Society, The Fisher King, Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams, The World According to Garp), but also the fact that his death was by his own hand while in the depths of crippling despair just crushes me.

I mean. He was the guy who had me wearing rainbow suspenders and thinking it was cool. (I also like to think the Boulder seed may have been planted in those early episodes as well.)

Amidst all the online rubbish, there are some excellent points being made. About how the terms we all readily use like committing suicide and calling it a selfish, asshole-ridden act are shudder-inducing and should be filed away with some other choice words that we now know better than to use. 

This is the part that got me. Because when my uncle (beloved, as curmudgeonly as he was) died of suicide in 2002, I was pissed. At him. His note citing financial stress and not being able to deal felt lame even as full of pain as it clearly was. And as we cleaned out his house in the following days, I kept thinking what a selfish thing it was to eat a waffle, clean your teeth with your Waterpik, open the door so your dog wouldn’t be trapped inside, and off yourself. Leaving everyone who loved you completely shattered.

And up until yesterday, I still thought I felt that way. Then I read this and something in my brain clicked. Loudly.

My dearest has been suffering from this insipid disease himself. Something they call the cancer shadow. And it catapulted him straight out of a high-paying job into medical leave that resulted in a lay off upon his return. A year and a half (plus) later, he’s finally seemingly solid and on the job hunt as we speak.

But it has SUCKED. I’ve gone from hand-wringing to threatening to ultimatums to mind-numbing fear. Never knowing how the pendulum will swing on a given day. Never knowing what to do to help him. And it’s only when we look back that we see it all so clearly (and scarily). He was a fucked up mess

So it occurred to me upon reading this that depression and suicide are so far from selfish that it could almost be the opposite. What this illness actually is is the depths of despair dropped into a bottomless crevasse. And even the best drugs and therapists may or may not be able to bring the light back in. 

Selfish has no part. Depression cripples and takes no prisoners. Like the Grim Reaper standing there in the dark cloak with a scythe. The person is overtaken — life upended — with very little choice in the matter.

And those drugs? Well, let me just say that I was kicked, punched and awoken by my own screams to a hand over my nose and mouth — all while he was having some crazy town drug-induced dreams. It was no happy pill. And the hubby wanted to stop taking those faster than he had wanted them to help. No one. And I mean no one wants to have their kids wake up to their mom screaming in the middle of the night, only to be told, “It’s okay. It was just Daddy trying to smother me in my sleep. We’re fine!” No. No one.

My point being: no easy fix. Take a pill and BINGO! Happy time! No. Doesn’t work that way.

And then I read this and my second brain-click was like a reload. No one commits cancer. But people do die of it. Are stricken with it. Fight it. And sometimes win. And sometimes lose. The drugs make you crazy and sick. And sometimes the drugs make you better.

And it is always, always worth trying. To choose life. Even if it’s incredibly taxing and complicated. That’s serious illness. Messy.

My uncle and Robin Williams were suffering from an unimaginably cruel trick of fate. An illness that served up a life sentence for them both. And it’s so unbearably sad. But it’s also not something anyone would choose or either of them thought they’d ever ultimately succumb to. 

Rest in peace all who have suffered. Get help if you’re among the living. Depression is the true selfish bastard in this and I’m tired of it preying on the brilliant people we love.

TODAY’S THEME SONG: Give me something that I need. Satisfaction guaranteed. Because I’m thinking about a brand new hope. The one I’ve never known ‘cause now I know it’s all that I wanted. Macy’s Day Parade. Green Day.


5 Responses to “Don’t Try (Suicide).”

  1. David Fountain August 13, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    I too have delt with the depression demon. And you’re exactly right about the so called “happy pills”. Sheila had to put up with me seeing people at the foot of our bed to a raccoon that was on top of her head. Several times I woke her up asking for a gun because I swore I saw someone in the room. One time I was so convincing she gave it to me and I chase someone out our room. Luckily, it didn’t try to shoot them. It’s dangerous stuff. Fortunately, I’ve been able to work through it. I’m blessed for that reason alone. As a kid growing up, I saw it first hand. My father was manic depressive and later diagnosed as borderline schizophrenic. Something that very few people know today because my brothers and I just don’t talk about it. Depresion is ugly and you can’t get out of it by pulling yourself up by the bootstraps. I hope with all the attention that this tragedy is receiving that people will begin to understand this dark and ugly thing that can overtake your life. I will say, I believe it was because of my faith that I was able to work through it. Even though I don’t always understand why people have to struggle, there is a God who loves us and is there for us and cares for us deeply. I believe it was this that helped pull me through some very dark times. Thanks for writing this. In some ways, it was therapeutic in both reading it and then typing this response. You are a whole lot more eloquent writer that I am. So, forgive my fragmented sentences and miss spelled words.
    Love you guys. Take care.


    • soboclassifieds August 13, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

      Wow. You just made me cry. I so love that you shared that with me and you have no idea how much it means that you took the time to read and reply with such emotion. It truly amazes me how much people are carrying and we never really know. I have so many thoughts running through my head after reading your story, but just know that you have touched me beyond words. And Kenny too. Love to you and Sheila Fay…


  2. lb1164 August 13, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    Love your blog. Feel your emotion. We’ll have to chat when I’m in town in a few weeks. Hugs,


  3. Eve August 14, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    “Mama June” was someone who made me laugh so hard, I thought I would…you know…almost p-myself. She was my next door neighbor when I moved to CO. One afternoon she knocked on my door and brought me home made hot chocolate powder. From then on we chatted every day and many times peeked over our adjoining balconies to see what each of us was up to. One day I saw a cardboard masking tape periscope contraption she made, staring right at me, from balcony, with a sign hanging from it: “I can see you from here”. I would…you know…almost p-myself with laughter. She introduced me to corn beef and cabbage, Southern saying like “pea pickin’ heart” and was the one to take me in when I was 4 months pregnant and I decided to leave my 1st husband. She was a nurse with a great sense of humor, like telling me the story about a beautiful, young blond patient who came into to see the OBGYN. Mama June was assisting the doctor, and decided to write on prescription paper: “she’s not a true blond”, and slid the note in front of the doctor as he was performing the annual exam. This was during the 50’s when like she said in her Southern drawl, “people didn’t say things like that”. Yup…I …you know… almost p-myself. She was a wonderful mom and a good wife, and she followed her husband to Oklahoma, for a better job opportunity. I noticed during our frequent phone calls, she was starting to slur her words, forgot important dates, did not complete her sentences and was not laughing. She said she started to take medication to help her sleep and deal with things. Weeks went by and I did not hear from her – till the phone call, from her husband, that she resorted to suicide. He was away on business and came home to her sitting in her car, in the garage. “Mama June” was someone who was so full of life, joy, happiness, and laughter yet believed she could not go on with her emotional pain and the only way to feel better was to… Upon hearing the news I remember I experienced what it means to “buckle at the knees” and “gasp for air”. I still hear her voice and her laughter, and relive some of her stories, jokes and antidotes…and I almost…you know…


    • soboclassifieds August 14, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

      Oh Eve. I’ve never heard this story from you! That is so heartbreaking. Stupid, stupid disease. It always seems to prey on the best and the brightest. My uncle could be such an ass, but he was the one who gave me my first job at his sporting good store and teased me relentlessly. I stayed at their house so often growing up and was always fascinated by his fake leg that would rest against the wall while he was sleeping. He wore khaki pants almost every day that were perfectly starched. And he loved calling my mom hog-leg. He had a fantastic sense of humor and I can’t ever remember him not laughing or smiling (except when he was falling asleep in the middle of a family gathering). Thanks for sharing your story with me. I am so touched by what this post has brought up for so many people that I care about. Love you!


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