Thank You Oh Captain, My Captain!

“You are here to make a difference, to either improve the world or worsen it. And whether or not you consciously choose to, you will accomplish one or the other.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich

It was supposed to be my off week from Vivadivine. No posts, no tweets, no social media for a few days. I was on a mini retreat. However, I was reading on my iPad and posting encouraging tidbits from my friends Facebook pages when the news alert popped up about Robin Williams’ death. I instantly lost my breath and immediately opened up a news source online, knowing already what it was going to say. I was devastated. I started crying because I instantly felt like I had lost a member of my family and even now as I write this there are tears welling up in my eyes. It is so hard to believe that this bright light is gone.

We all know him as the ultimate funny man. He was a comedic genius. I loved Mork and Mindy, watching mostly reruns when I came here to the United States, because we never got the spinoff from Happy Days, back home in Jamaica. I loved him in Good Morning Vietman. Patch Adams, Jumanji, Dead Poet’s Society. Mrs. Doubtfire and the Birdcage are my favorite Robin Williams’ movies. I have watched his stand up specials on cable and his involvement in Comic Relief. He is one of the few comedians I would go to see his movies on an opening day.
But it was an interview many years ago, where he spoke about his struggles with addiction and depression, that really made me appreciate how self-effacing he really was.

Very few people are open about depression. It’s a disease where people tend to suffer silently and if discussed with anyone it’s usually only between family and close friends. So to hear him talk openly about it struck a chord with me as he was someone I could relate to. I have had 3 major depressive episodes in my life which have rendered me immobile and unable to function for months. There is an indescribable pain to depression and all you want is relief, for the pain to stop.  I prayed so many times to fall asleep in death, not to wake up the next day. I have been to the edge of the dark side twice. It was in those near suicide attempts where I heard a little voice that said: “If you do this, you won’t know…” and I always yelled back: “KNOW WHAT?”

Today, I KNOW! I know that life can get better, that life can be good. I know that with the saddest moments there is always a ray of light somewhere.  It took time, medication, therapy, a change in lifestyle and yes, a spiritual awakening to get me here. It took fighting through those dark moments, a vision of my mother dropping to her knees at the news of my death, the confusion that it would create with my loved ones and friends, for me to put down the permanent method of easing the pain.

It took work and years to get my brain to a place where it can function without any medication. I had to learn how to stay in a positive place, by being constantly aware of my thoughts. It takes vigilance to stay aware of people and situations that are triggers and tipping points and to keep a wide berth from them. It takes work to keep depression at bay, every single day. It is the first and foremost reason why I am an extremely positive person because I have lived on the other end of the spectrum. There is an awareness that anything could tip me over back into darkness. For those who have suffered from depression it’s with you even on your happiest days, just waiting for you to let it back in.

That is why Robin Williams’ death is so heartbreaking, because it seemed he had kept his demons at bay for many years. Twenty years sober is a commendable feat. However who knows what recently initiated a return of the dark horse. He would still be here making us laugh, making us feel, making us care, because in truth it’s not death that one really wants, it’s a release from the pain.

While I know to some extent that he has that release now, he has left us behind to feel his pain. His family is in mourning and so are we. If anything, this tragedy is opening up a dialogue for us to be more like him and speak out and not be afraid of what others may think about us. It shines a light on depression and takes away the stigma that causes many to suffer silently. For those of us who have been there and those who are in the throes of it, it’s time to speak up, speak out and bring more awareness to this dis-ease of the mind.
It’s time to put our faces out there as Robin Williams did so that we can help each other deal with this ache of the soul.

I am so grateful for this funny man. So appreciative of all the laughs he gave us, for his honesty and his ability to be like one of us. He was open with his frailties and that is why this loss deeply affects us. I am grateful that he left with us his spirit that we can always remember him by. He is really not gone, his spirit lives on.

If you think you are depressed or sense someone is suffering please reach out and help them. Learn about the signs of depression. If you find yourself in a dark place, please reach out to someone. Before you do anything to ease that pain, just ask for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is just a click away:

You can add the phone number to your contacts list: 1-800-273-8255 and before you do anything just talk to someone. You are not alone.

And I am going to tell you the same thing I heard: “If you do this, you won’t know…”

Stay strong and know that life can be divine.


Photo courtesy of Ticketmaster.

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