Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Confessions of the Tortured Artist: Why Depression Really Matters

            Greetings, readers, with a somber and hollow voice full of sadness.  I understand that you are eager to see what I have to say about Musikfest 2014, but the sharing of Festy fun must wait out of respect for a comedic icon.  Fear not, I will share my adventures, but not this week.  This week is all about losing people to the act of suicide after they fall prey to the lies that depression tells us all.  Which is why I put together this optional "Depression Lies" playlist (which has Blink-182 in it; my apologies to all the haters and hipsters who are rolling up their sleeves and cracking their knuckles to write scathing comments about my choice in music, even though "Adam's Song" does seem to reflect the suicidal thinking.  If you really don't like it at all, JUST HIT THE NEXT BUTTON!!!  Just don't say that I didn't warn you.)


            I'm sure that if you've been watching television yesterday afternoon/evening (August 11th, 2014, a day during which I was doing a bunch of appointment stuff), you may seen/heard a really heart-wrenching headline regarding a beloved comedian, artist and human being:


            I kid you not, this is seriously some sad news, especially regarding someone many comedians and entertainers look up to.  I enjoyed the entertainment he provided, and there has been a time when I'd be snorting with laughter at the blooper reel of movies he was in; I think it should be said that he just wasn't in blooper reels, as he was a living gag reel.  He'd joke a lot, just to make people smile and be silly.  And it wasn't until his passing and the initial release of information regarding his cause of death that many of us realized how truly human he actually was, and how much depth he truly has.  He didn't just act all "crazy" to get laughs out of us, but rather to make us laugh and forget about the pain we were feeling deep inside.  Robin Williams wasn't so much a comedic fool as he was an empathetic human who understood the pain of humanity and wanted to help make living less painful.

            I believe that the first time I saw him on screen was when he was playing that absentminded professor in the movie Flubber.  He was pretty good in that movie, but his comedy really blossomed in movies such as Man of the Year, and in interviews with people on television, which are as unpredictable as the weather!  He was much like Jenny Lawson without the anxiety and tendency to seem really awkward and weird (which many of us have), as he has let people see the wounds he was trying to heal, while still giving that air of "I'm okay, let's laugh about it."  He had an excellent sense of humor, providing a different, more positive light on serious matters, which allowed those issues to become more approachable.  (His IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000245/?ref_=tt_ov_st

           Robin Williams, you made us laugh so hard we must've snorted so loudly bacon came out of our noses!  And I thank you for not only being unafraid of having an excellent sense of humor, but also for being so human in seeing our need to laugh and providing that reason that allows us to do so.  We love you and will miss you deeply.  Keep God laughing up there.

Depression and Its Endgame

             The death of Robin Williams (which I never really expected to be tertiary witness to as he seemed immortal and unshaken to many) really has helped spark a discussion that requires a need to help people realize that A.) depression is a real medical/neurological problem and must be treated as such, and B.) depression, suicide and mood disorders must have that stigma removed, that stigma that says something's wrong with people who have it and everyone should avoid talking about it like I-can't-say-anything-because-people-will-shy-away-from-me.  It's something that cannot get better when left alone; it's not just an emotional phase people go through, so "Cheer up," ain't helping even jack shit; it's something serious that can lead to physical problems such as obesity, heart disease, etc., which is why it shouldn't be ignored; and nobody can go through it alone.

            I, too, live with depression, which seems to enjoy having a fucked-up bullying hoedown with anxiety as its dance partner deep inside my brain for some reason.  It sucks that I have it; I'd rather not be subjected to the world having an overlying shade of blue to it, but it allows me to understand the darker side of life.  Having an anchor (or fifty-two) outside of myself really helps keep me from being down in the dumps: I'm not alone, people care about me and they are trying to help me.  In fact, with treatment, I'm able to get past that feeling of "THE WORLD IS ENDING BECAUSE I MISSED A THERAPY APPOINTMENT!" with the help of both my psychiatrist and my therapist, the latter being a brilliant witch doctor (read: psychologist) who is also a Whovian and a nerd.  I'm also fortunate to say that I have been able to bounce back from that point where even I have thought about taking my own life.  (At this point, it's not serious; I have not made plans, I have not written a suicide note.  It doesn't mean that it won't ever happen, but the likelihood of it happening is very low.)

            Now for an even tougher subject to chew on: suicide.  Taking one's own life out of desperation to escape the pain that people have been subjected to is not a selfish act.  Sure, it may seem selfish to many people (ahem…. Nick Groff of Ghost Adventures and Eric/Terial from Second Life), but a large percentage of suicide victims completed this painful act ("committed" makes it sound like it's a crime) because it seems to be the only answer left; people should keep in mind that these aren't  people going "I'm going to end it all just to spite these motherfuckers," (which is a really small percentage—I doubt that such a group exists but I'm sure it does.) or "You'll never be able to punish me!" (which is a visibly larger percentage than the "spite these motherfuckers" group) but are really people drowning inside of their own emotions, being overwhelmed with sadness, fear, anxiety and are just feeling hopeless and left with no other way out through the fog that clouds our minds.  People attempting suicide should still be approached cautiously by professionals (like cops and firefighters and licensed medical professionals) because they might be so desperate that they would wind up hurting/killing others just to achieve their goals.  But they need support, they need people to be there for them, rather than being abandoned because their actions pissed you off.

            Suicide is a real problem (as is self-injury).  Cyberbullying and bullying is one indirect cause of it as this activity can trigger depression; this pattern exists and it must be addressed.  Another point to make is that it's a real problem, especially in Japan (sorry, Japanese readers), where it got to the point where the word "suicide" is very taboo in the land of samurai and ninjas, which is why they refer to it as "human incident".  It's practically an epidemic over there and the Japanese government is doing whatever it takes to solve the problem, with measures that include training officers, medics and even Shinjuku station employees in such matters.  And yet, people are still throwing themselves into Mt. Fujiyama or completing such an act in the Hanging Forest (which Josh Gates and his crew from Destination Truth actually investigated for possible paranormal activity).  The Japanese sees it as a problem for sure; why can't the Americans?  It shouldn't be an epidemic to be addressed!

There's Still a Ray of Light In This Darkness

            There is help available for people suffering from depression (and/or anxiety), and there is a way out of the really dark corners of life.  For one, please: reach out for help.  Say, "Everything hurts and I need help," over and over in the best way you know how until someone listens.  Talk to someone you trust, like your parents or siblings or a neighbor or a religious/faith leader; let them know you need help.  I can say I'm extremely sure that they are more than willing to help you; if not, find someone else; keep looking until someone takes you seriously.

            Another couple of points to keep in mind is that you're not alone in this war and that DEPRESSION IS A MOTHERFUCKING LIAR!!!!  It tells you that you are worthless, incapable of handling and solving problems, that there is nothing to live for.  DON'T BELIEVE WHATEVER IT TELLS YOU!  It's the cyberbully that lives in your head and thrives on hopelessness.  In fact, that idea—"Depression lies"—is one of the many mottos Jenny "The Bloggess" Lawson has, as she shares her own inner struggles on her blog (which you should read and bookmark and subscribe to and stuffs because it's awesomes!).  It's become such a rallying call that many of her fans who relate to her battles with depression use it in their tweets as a hashtag, #DepressionLies.  I've used it myself, and in the process, got connected to such a sweetheart on Twitter; thanks for connecting with me, @kheliwud!  I look forward to many conversations with you in the future!


            If you are going through a mental health emergency, however, call 911 (or if you're in another country, contact the appropriate emergency responders) and reach out to someone.  It may be rough at first, but it will get better.

            Just put down the knife/gun/rope/pills/car keys, dear, so that no one will get hurt.

Suicide Prevention Internet Resources


            ~~ Suicide Prevention Hotline:  1-800-273-8255 (US and Canada)

            ~~ Australia: https://www.lifeline.org.au/

            ~~ UK: http://www.samaritans.org/

            ~~ Bangladesh: http://www.shuni.org/en.php

        ~~ CDC on Depression: http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/basics/mental-illness/depression.htm

        ~~ Mayo Clinic on Depression: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/definition/con-20032977

            If it's an immediate emergency, call 911 or the appropriate emergency responders!!!!


P.S.  One tip to get through less intense days (as in days where you're not in need of a permanent exit) is to construct a "Good Things list" and list the things in life that are positive in your life; it can be as simple as "I'M ALIVE" and "I'M OKAY" and "I did the dishes today," and "I finished my to-do list with time to spare!" and "I had fun changing the baby's diaper and now we're both laughing in the living room!"  I did it and it helps me have a buffer against the lower levels of that Pit of Despair many of us are stuck inside of, which is much like being in the Pit of Sarlacc only you don't get digested over thousands of years but rather just feel like you're losing more and more hope the deeper into the pit you go—and the Pit of Despair has a rope available for climbing out.

P.P.S.  I'd like to start a campaign on Twitter and Facebook and Google+ to get the hashtag #DepressionLies trending nationwide alongside Robin Williams.  It's time to get people to start talking, connecting and supporting each other.  We don't have to fight our battles alone; it's a lot easier for someone to fight depression alongside you.  LET'S GET THIS TOPIC TRENDING NOW!!!!!

P.P.P.S.  When in doubt, CATS!!!!!!