Been There, Unfortunately

I heard the news today.  I was very sad.  One of my childhood heroes, the funniest person on the planet, and a hell of a good actor, died of an apparent suicide, due to his ongoing issues with depression.  A nasty little beast, depression.  It takes your mind and makes it into something you don’t recognize.  It makes you think things you never thought you would.  It makes you so sad and hopeless that you feel there is no way out.  It is hard to reconcile.

I know.  I’ve been there.

Never diagnosed, because I refused to go to the doctor, thinking it was “just me”, “just a phase”, or “just something I needed to work through in my mind”.  Brought on by many things – stress, a hard fourteen years of madness, a bad marriage, a stupid mistake.  It tries to creep in from time to time, but I’ve gotten better at handling it.  I know – mine is nothing compared to most.  But it’s there, nonetheless.  Perhaps that’s one reason I wanted to study psychology in college. 

I remember one night long ago.  I was about 20 or so, maybe.  We were living in an apartment in the southern part of the state.  We had had a tough few months.  The stress of a new baby.  The stress of not making much money.  The stress of a new family situation for me, living about 90 minutes from anyone else I really knew, staying at home and raising an infant we didn’t expect, handling whatever life tried to throw my way.  He did not understand.  He never really did.  I needed someone to hold my hand.  Someone to tell me that it was all going to be okay.  Someone to tell me that I was truly, honestly loved, not just because of the baby.  Someone to make things better.  He wasn’t that person.  No fault of his own.  It was just the situation at the time.

One evening, late at night, I was crying again.  Fourteenth time that week, I’m sure.  I was rocking back and forth, sitting on the bed.  It was one of those moments that I look back on now, so aware that one false move and I wouldn’t be writing this story today.  I’d be another statistic.

He had a gun in the bedside table – for robbers or other nefarious characters.  Defense of the home.  Defense of the self.  Not something one should really have in a house with a depressed person.  Like me.

I cried, rocking back and forth.  I wept for the youth I had screwed up. I wept for the child I loved.  I wept for the situation I had placed myself into, unable to change or morph into something better than what it was.  I was lucky – I knew it.  I had support from a wonderful extended family.  I had people who did love me.  They just didn’t know the personal and private hell I was going through in my head.  They had no idea, I’m sure.  I was just “postpartum” or “crazy” and would probably get over it.  Again – no fault of their own.  By that time, I’d really gotten quite good at hiding everything.

I cried.  I rocked.  He grew tired of it.  He handed me the gun.  He said “just do it already and get it over with”.  He said “have the balls to do it if you’re going to threaten to do it”.  I took the gun.  I felt the cold steel in my hand.  There was something about that cold, grey-black steel that stripped my reality back into focus. 

I handed it back to him.  I shook my head no.  I cried myself to sleep, silently so that he would not hear.

That was not the only time, but it was one of the closest times.  There have been times since.  Not in a long while, but since.

I cannot imagine what personal hell our Mork was going through, but I can understand.  I can appreciate.  I have known several others who have committed suicide.  A prominent and well-loved physician with a bright future.  An employee with PTSD.  A friend with undisclosed issues.  Others.  Many others.  Most due to the same demon that many of us have faced, only on a much deeper level.  Looked the demon in the eye, they did, and said “no more”, passing over into the blackness.

My hope on this evening is that his family finds peace in his memories.  I will always remember his wonderful acting skills.  The way he made us all laugh.  The way that my world changed, for the better, because he was a small part of it. 

If you know anyone suffering from depression, talk to them.  Help them.  Don’t judge.  Don’t say it’s nothing.  Don’t believe it will go away.  Take action.  Bring this out of the darkness.  Bring them out of the darkness.  And into the light of being human.

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