In rehab it’s possible that Robin Williams’ doctors treated him as a dual diagnosis patient. A dual diagnosis indicates that a patient suffers from some form of mental illness along with substance abuse. Depression, for example, might lead to alcohol abuse, or abusing alcohol might make depression worse.
I look at it more like a DUEL diagnosis. Every day you wake up staring down your opponent, preparing to fight. It’s like those old-time Westerns, with all the drama and the palpable threat of death.
But in this duel, as you approach your adversary, a wall appears and smacks you in the face. It’s a mirror you’ve been staring down—it’s you you’re after, fighting for your life against your life itself.
Robin Williams knew the feeling. He fought hard to stay on his feet. As I continue my battle with depression, I’m distraught today over the realization that a talented man and caring soul couldn’t stop beating himself up.
What would the world look like if each of us admitted the truth that deep down we’re all a little sad? Would confessing that at our very core things just aren’t right help us make our lives better?
I’ve been wondering such heavy things (in some form) for a long time now, probably since the third or fourth grade. It amazes me how stuff that happened to me years ago manages to re-surface today, buoyant emotional debris clogging up my thought-streams.
But I often keep hidden my sadness about unfortunate moments I’ve had to endure. Repression provided strong shelter during difficult times, but it prevented me from venturing back outside once the storms had passed.
Today I realize that sadness is an important part of my experience. It allows me to mourn for what and whom I’ve lost. Sadness reminds me I’m human and that everyone I encounter is suffering too.
If anything, when I’m sad I’m more aware of how I don’t want others to hurt. Compassion stems from the realization that none of us is immune from pain and hardship. In helping others acknowledge that life is often tragic and disheartening, I hope that the small circle of people I know can stray from the “I’m doing fine” act and feel less alone.
And in feeling less alone, perhaps we’ll all self-medicate less, and avoid trying to compensate for our sadness in ways that simply increase our pain and make everyone around us miserable.
Filed under Life, Philosophy