RIP Robin Williams – And A Confession

young-robin-williamsI’m a manic-depressive.

I was sitting at my computer yesterday working on the video from the session with David when I heard the news of Robin Williams’ passing.  I instantly flashed back to the time when I’d seen his name on a list of “famous bipolar people” or something ridiculous along that line.

At the same time, I recalled hearing a few weeks back that he’d returned to rehab after years of sobriety.  Then the next bit of information from the newsflash struck me like a pulled drive to the head – he’d killed himself.

I immediately called to my wife who was at her own computer working on her own website, yelling across the dividing space, “Robin Williams just died…”

She loves, and I mean loves Robin Williams.

“What?!?!”

“Suicide…”

The word echoed throughout the apartment like a tolling bell, and stone cold silence descended, until our eldest daughter asked, “What’s suicide?”

Never mind, she was told, but the rest of the day passed somberly.

Robin Williams On Golf

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I’m still trying to process it.  I have my own favorite Robin Williams movies, such as Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting and The Bird Cage.  I didn’t care for his comedic roles for the most part (except the Cage), but I loved him as a brilliant actor, and his serious roles were top-notch.

I’m not an idol-worshiper. I’m not grief-stricken because he’ll never make another movie or act in another show.  He’s not on my list of favorite actors, but he’s on my wife’s, and I do love some of his work.

No, what hits so hard is the knowledge that no matter how famous, how successful, how wealthy you are, there is no escaping the clutches of the beast.  It lies in wait, it attacks, it devours, without mercy, without caring who you are.

I have shared my own situation with my Members, and I nearly came out publicly last year with my own “thing,” but I chickened out.  I sufficed by writing a thinly veiled posting about Christina Kim’s admission to suffering from depression.  Then I pulled it after a couple of days.  I’m posting it in its entirety below this posting.

But I’m tired of keeping such a big part of my person secret and hidden away like some shameful thing.

I’m a manic-depressive, and I didn’t choose to be one, nor did I request it.  It is what it is.

captainmycaptain

And another thing – when I was diagnosed with the condition after a lifetime of turmoil and self-medication (you always know that there’s something “off,” from an early age, or at least I did, but you never imagine that you’re one of those…), I entered a period that I can only call “spiral, bottom, reflection, evaluation.”  

Actually, the diagnosis came after the second of the four…

It was during the evaluation period in which I dug my golf clubs out of the closet, having neglected them for years after quitting golf in ’98 (the serious aspect of it, practice, regular play) and went to the local driving range for the first time in ages.

When I returned that day, I said to my wife, “I’m going to figure out the proper way to swing a golf club.”

It was something I would work on to keep my sanity, and that was in June of 2005.  For nine years, the swing research, the blogging, all of what I’ve done online with regards to the golf swing, has been what began as a simple “keep my mind busy” project because I was trying to figure out how to live the rest of my life with this condition.

There are great days.  There are horrific days.  Most days fall somewhere in between near the extremes ends.  Nothing gray. Nothing bland.  Nothing normal.

And I am sad for Robin Williams, the human being, and those he’s left behind.  It just feels more personal because there’s always Robin Williams’ voice bouncing around our home (Happy Feet, Aladdin, Jumanji…).  So I had to tell my kids yesterday that one of their favorite voices had died.

robinwilliams

And in his honor, I will stop living the lie of pretending to be a person I’m not.

RIP, Robin.

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Christina Kim, I’m Sorry I Took So Long…

Published May 24, 2013 on the DJ Watts Golf Blog

chistina kimI remember clearly the day I heard about Christina Kim coming out with her story about her personal battle with depression.

Most of us know someone with a major depressive illness or similar disorder, I’m sure. You probably know a whole bunch of them and think they’re just a little “off” or “different.”

This is how Christina describes her breakdown, which came during a drive home after failing to qualify for next year’s play and thinking about Q-school:

Panic set in as she remembered how much she hates Daytona Beach, Fla., and wondered how she would ever shoot five rounds under par in a qualifying tournament given the way she had been playing. With the emotional snowball in full throttle, Kim drove through tears that turned into sobs, then loud, piercing screams.

It was a pain so deep it felt like a limb had been amputated. She scared herself and pulled off the road. There, on the side of the Interstate at 2 in the morning on Sept. 24, Christina Kim let out two years of despair that she had refused to acknowledge. When she finally got home, she locked herself in her bedroom and remained there for almost three days without turning on a light.

I didn’t know the numbers but I was shocked – now, I live in Canada and not the U.S., but I doubt the numbers would be much different:

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 14.8 million American adults–or 6.7 percent of the U.S. population–suffer from Major Depressive Disorder, and more than 30,000 Americans commit suicide every year.

And I remember hearing about this last December, but I was mainly blogging about the swing, and this is a sensitive subject, so I didn’t.

And I owe Christina Kim and many others an apology, because this is something that is worth writing and blogging about when it comes to all walks of life, all manner of people and past-times, and whatever…

I applaud Christina for her courage in coming forward and I look forward to seeing her resume her usual life-of-the-party happiness and joy on course.

There are many people out there who suffer in silence, and that’s a shame. Tell someone you know, I bet they’ll  be more understanding than you dreamed they would be.

You never know – it could start a conversation that could change your life, or save it.

And it is worth saving, even if you don’t think it is.  Someone loves you.  You’re in pain, but don’t forget that.

We all have to live in this world.  Don’t do it alone.

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7 thoughts on “RIP Robin Williams – And A Confession

  1. Steve .T.

    DJ,

    I don’t post often, but felt the need. I can hopefully speak for a lot of people who visit this site and would like to say that the human spirit will always want to listen, help and support anyone who gives a much time and effort as you do. There’s a lot of us out there and I admire your openness. No cliches needed; sometimes it’s hard work, and sometimes it’s easier – just don’t stop blogging!

    Mr Williams was one of a kind and although his death is tragic, you cannot help but smile ;}

    Steve.T.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Thanks for the kind words, Steve T., and you’re absolutely right about two things.

      R. Williams was one of a kind, and there are many of us out there. My wife was remarking to me this morning that she’s reading a lot of “coming out” statements in media/social media in the wake of this tragedy.

      I told her that I would love this great comedian and actor’s legacy to be not only the gift of the talent he gave us, but perhaps that he also helped break down the barriers to open discussion of something that affects a good many people who hide or suffer in silence.

      Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

      For me, it’s just another facet of who I am, but one that can’t be ignored or dismissed as inconsequential. However, it’s just one facet, and I don’t let it define my whole existence. Rather it colors my existence.

      Peace! 🙂

  2. pwerban

    DJ,
    Thanks for sharing. I wish you well in managing your illness. I have been dealing with constant depression for many years myself. It’s not easy, but we must live on. We owe it to ourselves and the ones we love.

    1. D Watts Post author

      pwerban, I had no idea, and thanks for offering that up. You’re not alone, even though it may seem that way at times. And try not to think of it as an “illness,” because I don’t. I view it as – I was born different, and the differences sometimes make me a square peg in a round hole, but I’m me, just different.

      You’re you, and you rock. Ask your family and friends.

      And we do owe it to them. So onwards, and I’ll see you at the Watering Hole, my friend – I just put a post up into which I hope you’ll throw a comment in light of the great news you gave me the other day! 🙂

  3. buddhabob

    Well I certainly can relate, lost a sister to suicide and depression stalks my family like a grey ghost that comes and goes. Without the bi-polars the world would be a much less creative place but that said its a heavy burden and a nasty companion i’m sure, and the world hasn’t got any friendlier since s.jobs and the geeks conspired to ‘connect’ everyone for profit. certainly a false claim and one that mostly has led to spiraling alienation in what is left of society and community, my opinions only.

    there are watering holes of refreshment however and this is one of them and I commend your contributions to community and compassion, d.j. and knowledge and purpose and its fun here even though I haven’t even picked a club up in 5 weeks and am in the midst of turmoil and change myself.

    All people want and struggle for connection whether they confess to this or no, and all people have unique ways of hiding and not admitting to this, some rage against the machine, some physically withdraw,some eat,some sex out across the tracks and into the woods,some live vicarious lives of desperation and false identification, some seek friendship in religion or at starbucks it being the new church now on every corner of lonely americanna.

    Robin Williams resonates because his solution to a savage culture was a savage act. I can relate and I wish his transmigrating energy only the best and the bravest in the new and many forms it will embrace.

    1. D Watts Post author

      I’ve been wondering where you’ve been, and I’m happy that you’re “OK” Buddhabob, or at least well enough to drop in. Believe it or not, I sniffed you out as a probable “member of the tribe” from your comments. It’s never my place to inquire however…

      I’m sorry to hear of your loss, for what it’s worth. Nothing can assuage that grief, so I won’t try and so fail.

      Good to see you, take care of yourself, and come back here when you’re up to it. I miss you when you’re not around, believe it or not! 😉

  4. D Watts Post author

    Some new revelations to add perspective – I’ve just heard that Robin’s wife has come out and stated that Williams was suffering from the early stages of the onset of Parkinson’s Disease.

    Anxiety and depression can be overwhelming at the best of times, but staring down the barrel of a terminal disease with no cure?

    Parkinson’s

    Early in the course of the disease, the most obvious symptoms are movement-related; these include shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty with walking and gait.

    Later, thinking and behavioral problems may arise, with dementia commonly occurring in the advanced stages of the disease, whereas depression is the most common psychiatric symptom. Other symptoms include sensory, sleep and emotional problems.

    Still a shock, still a tragic passing, but it begins to clear the picture now.

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