I set up this website and blog and podcast all in the name of comedy, so I won’t spend too much time on this. I just have a few thoughts.
In the wake of two pop culture icons taking their own life this week, your timelines and feeds have most likely been riddled with thoughtful tributes to the departed, most of which follow up with reminders that if you or a loved one seems to be experiencing these emotions, to address it and get the proper help. So allow me to reinforce that, yes you absolutely should do that. It is critical that you do that. Mental health has taken a backseat to physical health for the better part of history, and its been time for that to change. It’s a disease, and I honestly don’t know its cure. I’ve been open about my battles and my successes and, more often, my failures in treating it. I’ve been open about it for a number of reasons. One, it feels good. Not gonna beat around the bush about it. I feel relief in knowing that people know where I stand. I spend the early part of my battle very much bottled up and trying to self medicate, and that only proved to be more damaging. Another reason, and this one I don’t necessarily know if it does what I think it does, but I like to think that sharing my struggles may bring someone peace in knowing they’re not alone. Maybe it’ll give them the courage to speak up and seek the help they need. I don’t know. I like to think so though.
Anyway, enough about me, who is not the point of this piece. I don’t claim to have answers for anyone. It takes time. You need to find the right thing for you. I’ve been through a number of therapists before I finally found one I love and finally felt like I was making progress with, and that took me almost 10 years to do. I can’t even really say “just do what makes you happy and you’ll be fine”, because if you take a look at people like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, they were people who were doing just that. We look at celebrities like these people who are immune to pain or criticize them for struggles because “they have everything, what do they have to be depressed about?”. Maybe they don’t have a particular “thing”, but they have a condition. Something that takes a costly toll on people when its not met head on. Thats not to say they weren’t doing that, but clearly it wasn’t enough in the end.
I feel like whenever the news breaks about a suicide, we all have a somber moment. In all the tragedies we’ve seen, whether its a school shooting or a lunatic driving a truck into a parade, we all get rightfully upset and disgusted, but we don’t feel the pain of that event. We can’t even fathom it so for the most part we’re just starting at the TV screen in disbelief. Particularly with the guns, we’ll even get right into the arguments about it and how we’re going to label it or who’s fault it is. But with something like a suicide, I think we all have this universal moment of reflection. I didn’t know Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade. Or Robin Williams or Kurt Cobain, or any of the beautifully talented people who have lost the battle to themselves. But I know what they went through. I’ve been at the edge that they were ultimately thrusted over by this devastating condition. And we have this moment of somber unity because maybe you or someone you love has been there too. We all feel it when the reason for a tragedy is depression. Because despite your race, political affiliation, religion, etc., we can all relate to feeling hopeless and just thank heavens that we or the person we love had the strength to hold on, at least for now.
I’m proud of the way some of the world seems to be going when it comes to confronting this epidemic. And while I wish there were another way, I think it’s important to take events like these and try to produce a positive change in your life or someone else’s. Until we find a way to make everyone happy, just find a way to make sure people know you love them. And most importantly love yourself. If you don’t, find a way to get the help so you can. Stanley Kubrick once said, in so many words, “however vast the darkness, you must provide your own light”. It starts with you, it starts with everyone. Lets beat this thing.
I hope this made some sense to somebody.