Robin Williams, dead at 63. I can't believe it... only I can. How many of our manic, best-loved comedians take their own lives? It is almost like the ones that shine too brightly have the hardest time maintaining their light in this life.
I know depression. Or maybe its called a mood disorder. Unfortunately, we are good friends. Part of my journey to live a more sustainable, natural lifestyle has centered on how to manage a heart and mind that feel life's "brutifulness," as Glennon Doyle calls it: life is beautiful and brutal. It is painfully beautiful, and sometimes beautifully painful. I feel it too much, and sometimes I feel consumed by an anger that has no source.
"Chemistry" is how I understood it, in my early twenties, when I finally had enough of myself and went to the doctor. This seemed right since I led one of the most charmed lives of the twentieth century and still do. There was no REASON for me to be this way. If my chemistry was unbalanced, through no fault of my own, I reasoned, then a chemical solution must be the only logical answer!
I have to say, the medicine probably saved me. I do give credit where credit is due. But it never "fixed" me. If I was on medicine, I kept life between the white lines. I even felt pretty good once in a while. I can't say I really felt great, but sometimes I felt so good I would go off the medicine - for about two months before I resigned myself to the pharmacy again.
Last year I decided that before I turned 40 I wanted to see if I could feel great, not good, not ok, GREAT - legally and naturally. I wanted to give it one more shot before I hit the big Four Ohhhh. It has been a struggle, but I am doing it. I feel things powerfully without getting mired in their depths. I have bad days, and I have to remind myself that it is normal and that they pass. I have to reassure myself that I am not going to sink into the darkness and that it is ok to sit with my demons now. And, most importantly, I have had more days over the past year where I can say, "I felt GREAT!" than I have in the past 20 put together.
It is possible, I want you to know. I wish Robin Williams could have found it. I wish everyone could. It might be the right combination of medicines. It might be a radical change in diet or lifestyle. It might be an alternative form of therapy. It might be figuring out what is truly causing your body to be out of whack. It might be coming to terms with an addiction (or three)! It might be something else all together. I'm sure it is different for everyone. I tweaked for 20 years before I found it. And even if it doesn't last forever, I am so stinking thankful I didn't give up. I am so thankful I did my own research and experimenting. I am so thankful I didn't think feeling ok was good enough.
For me it means an insano strict diet of whole foods, CAREFUL intake of sugar, and several natural supplements that I cannot miss. It is way harder and more involved than popping a pill every night. It means I have to watch myself and monitor where I am daily. It means I better make time for yoga, decent food, and prayer. It means I can easily get "off" when things get stressful. It means I have to stay connected to my values and keep my hands in the dirt - literally, gardening is my therapy. But overall it works. It really works. And overall, healing has forced me to create the life I always wanted but was never brave enough to make.
It means I can take a sadness about an American Icon dying and turn it into an opportunity to reach out to other people who might relate closely. It means I have a tiny bit of control over my Chemistry. It means, every now and then, nurture can trump nature.
Here's to you, Robin Williams!
And here's to all of you who hide tears behind laughter. Keep looking! It is out there!