Okay so the saddest news went around the globe yesterday and we all learned that our beloved Robin Williams took his own life. It's beyond tragic, but the first thing that popped into my head wasn't anything nasty like, "suicide is selfish" or "why would he do that, he had everything?" Just some of the posts I have seen on social media in the last day. The first thing that popped into my head was, "this is so sad, I wish he could have found a way to make the pain stop." I also know that the "funny" people are often the saddest. Humor is a way of coping with all the shit that happens in life. I have a motto, that which does not kill me, makes me funnier, and while that is meant humorous, it's really the truth.
Some of you know and I have been so worried about sharing this information, but now I figure screw it, if it helps one person than it's worth any ridicule I may get. I drove to San Francisco in 2009 twice to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. Two times I made that decision. I simply could NOT take one more second of the pain I was in. Here is something that is important for people to know, I do NOT suffer from depression or bipolar disorder. Yes I am an artist and a writer and I could easily have either, but I don't and yes I have seen doctors, especially when I was suicidal after my mother's death in 2004. I thought, I am not normal because the pain gets worse every day not better-there must be something clinically wrong with me. There wasn't, I was just in pain.
The fact that I don't have a mental disorder is probably 100% of the reason that I was able to walk away from the rail and say, "okay this pain I am sucks, but I don't want to die, plus that really looks like it will hurt." Humor again, my go to is always humor.
It wasn't just about losing my mom, although that ripped my heart out and the pain is something that I can't truly describe-even though I am a writer-that's how bad it was. It was like losing a child. I felt like a part of me died with her.
Before mom died, my step brother was killed in a car jacking in Phoenix while I was living and working in Sydney, I felt like if I was in the States it wouldn't have happened, which is wrong, but it's how I felt. My brother and I were really close all through high school and college so his death was the beginning of what I now call the "LOSS DECADE" of my life.
Then Sept 11th happened and I lost friends, then mom got cancer, then grandma died, then mom died and as if all this wasn't hard enough-traditional animation crashed and I lost my career.
Someone on FB was posting about Robin Williams' death and saying that money is never a reason to kill yourself. Well to this person I say, that is so wrong. I don't know what issues with money Mr. Williams had, but I do know for a fact that when you go from having money and a career to being worried every single day about money and paying bills and for me being homeless, it does take it's toll. It's about so much more than money, it's about feeling like a failure. It's about feeling like you aren't worth anything in society, it's about self doubt and feeling like you are the only one who isn't making it work. Even if none of that is true it's how it feels. For me, not having money coming in for 8 years up to when I decided to jump was enough to make me feel like I was failing at every turn. The stress of always wondering if I could afford to eat and pay my rent was debilitating. No matter how many jobs I applied for and tests I took for jobs, nothing was working for me, so yeah MONEY was a huge part of my decision to jump.
So where was I? Oh yeah after mom died in 2004, I went to Denmark for a year, I needed the work and it was a great escape from reality, but what was so bad about that decision is that I didn't deal with her death at all. Nothing in Denmark reminded me of my mother and so it was new. "I am fine" became something I said all the time when people asked me how I was doing about mom. When I came back to the US in 2005 I was lucky enough to have a job in AZ. Arizona! UGH that is where mom lived so all the pain from her death came right back, but at least I was working.
Then that job went bust and I moved to middle America for another job that went bust after just 5 months-these places went out of business or had layoffs, I wasn't getting let go, the jobs were ending. I moved back to Los Angeles still pretending everything was fine and then the 4 weeks I was working at Disney ended and I was back to fear, worry, stress etc. Then the phone call came.
"Your father is brain dead and we need you or your sister to come pull the plug" Yes that is what I heard. I feel into a deep despair. "OMG I HAVE NO PARENTS LEFT!" and I am in my 30s.
Well my sister decided not to pull the plug and this started a 6 year nightmare of my dad in a home with the mental capacity of a toddler to maybe first grader at best. A lot of the time he didn't know who I was when I called, but he did come out of the coma he was in and was not brain dead. But it was beyond hard to call my own father and he didn't know who I was, I had lost him. I was grieving-AGAIN.
So by the time 2008 rolled around, my depression was so bad that I could hardly function. I was worried all the time about money and I missed my parents so much that it hurt constantly. I had no one to talk to about it as grief counselling is wicked expensive, so started to make a plan for a way out. In 2009 I made the decision to go to San Francisco and jump. My mom and I had talked about her walking across the bridge if she made it out of her cancer, so I would walk across the bridge and then jump.
I knew it was selfish, I didn't care. YOU DON'T CARE when you are in that place. You only care about stopping your pain. Ever have a really bad day? I mean REALLY bad? Like your significant other cheats on you? Your kid dies, your parent dies, you lose your job? Anything like that? And it's ALL YOU CAN THINK ABOUT or TALK ABOUT? You are being selfish because you need to be in that moment, now imagine that magnified about 100 times and that is how one feels when they are committing suicide.
I knew that people would be sad, I knew that I would be missed, I knew what it would do to my remaining family, I didn't care. None of that mattered because the grief and pain I was feeling compounded by the constant fear of being homeless and feeling like a failure was more than I could take. Luckily for me when I got to the bridge and looked over the side something inside of me stopped me and even though I went back a second time-because of course I felt like a failure for not even being able to kill myself right-the same thing happened and I stopped and chose life.
Again, I do not have a mental illness so that choice was an easy one, but for someone dealing with all this crap and suffering from depression? Forget it, that leap is saving them from the hell they are in. It always bewilders me when people say "suicide is so selfish". Of course it is, it is the worst day of your life if you want to die. Now add a mental illness like being bi-polar or depression and then you don't have the skills or reasoning to not take your own life.
Mr. Williams was a great actor, comedian and from what I have heard person, but he was struggling with something bigger than any of us can see-well most of you who haven't been there. I hope that in his death people will really start thinking about the way they judge others in a more compassionate way and also really understand suicide for what it is, a way out.
Here is a great article that I want to share in case anyone here is thinking about taking their own life.