Another Lost Battle

Robin Williams passed away yesterday. May he rest in peace!

When I learned of it this morning, I was shocked- like millions all over the world. I googled frantically for details. What I learned shocked me even more. I found that Mr. Williams’s high energy at times masked a personal struggle with alcohol and drug addiction, and a representative for the actor said Monday that “he has been battling severe depression of late.”

Another lost battle, I said to myself.

I feel deeply sad. It was bad enough to know that Mr Williams passed away at 63, with still so much magic left in him to share with the world. To know that he was severely depressed and lonely enough to want to leave the world voluntarily, makes it sadder still.

A laughing face hid a lonely heart- once again.

I wouldn’t claim to know exactly what made him take this final step. He was struggling with alcohol and drug addiction. That must surely have added a wider, deeper dimension to his depression. I have no clue what he was really going through.

I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.

~Elizabeth Gilbert

I am familiar with depression- that which is not addiction related. It has been my faithful companion for many years. I can safely say what my own thought process was when I was in that state.

I wonder if Mr Williams felt as lonely as I did. Something tells that he did. But how could a man like Mr Williams be lonely?

All great and precious things are lonely.

~ John Steinbeck

He had everything. He was rich and famous. He was a resounding success in every possible way. He was deeply admired and looked up to as a professional. He was adored by millions all over the world. He had a wife who lived with him. Everything was replete and wholesome. All the gaps were filled, there were no empty spaces. He was surrounded by stellar company. Where was the room for loneliness?

Depression has a way of cutting you off from people. It burns all the bridges you built over the years, connecting you with others. Your thought process becomes so alien to you that a part of you is repulsed. This revulsion convinces you that others too will find you revolting. With this conviction, your feeling of isolation and segregation are complete. You sentence yourself to the dungeons of the unreclaimable. Mankind has no scourge as terrible as loneliness. It breaks you down and grinds you to dust.

The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.

~ Mother Teresa

Imagine a loneliness so deep as to make even a stellar life like Mr William’s seem hopeless! A despondency so pervasive as to make you feel that you have no way of overcoming your life’s struggles than to bid a final goodbye to the world. A sense of isolation so profound as to make you feel that no one can ever understand you, nor imagine what you are going through. An alienation so complete as to make you feel abandoned and lost; as if you were unworthy of anyone’s care, concern or love.

If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.

~ Jean-Paul Sartre

To a depressed person, this final goodbye is the only path to freedom; the only way out; the only haven. It is the only way they can set their imprisoned spirit free. They struggle valiantly against such thoughts and mostly, they win. But it is touch and go. Time and again they pull themselves back from the edge of the precipice. Despite their incessant struggle not to succumb to this feeling of abandonment, there comes a day when they lose their precarious balance. In one such moment of absolute conviction that this is the only way out, a tortured spirit sets itself free.

And the world knows of another lost battle.

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Another Lost Battle

31 thoughts on “Another Lost Battle”

  1. Reminds me of Watchmen:

    Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed, life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in threatening world. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town. Go see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears.”But doctor” He says, “I am Pagliacci.”

  2. Not being a movie buff or such, I remember him from the movie “License to Wed” mostly. It was sad to know he’s no more.

    Depression… been there, done that. Have felt that loneliness and come almost to the final step, but didn’t take because there were few friends beside me who held on and told me this is a haven too. When it hits, the hopelessness is overwhelming. It takes something or someone very close and understanding to pull me out.

    Wish I could have said I couldn’t relate to this post, that I’m never depressed, but that’s a part of life I’ve grown accustomed to and found that there is a way to pull myself away from that precipice. To find there are people who make you feel loved, rather than alone.

    1. May we all have people who pull us back from the edge and show us that we are loved and cherished. May we BECOME people who pull people back from the edge by showing them how they are loved and cherished… by showing them how precious they are to us.

      Here’s to people who make us feel loved, rather than alone!

  3. I had chosen not to read anything about this sad news. I always enjoyed watching this great actor on screen, loved many of his movies, enough to watch them over and over again. But as is my nature I don’t really pay any attention to any news-stories or gossip about film stars etc, so I was quite shocked to read on FB feed this morning that he had committed suicide. Your post now gives me more info on what could have been possible reasons for him to take such an unthinkable step. How tragic, really. Sometime ago another wonderful actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, had also died of drug-overdose. Really makes one wonder at the depth of loneliness some very public people may be feeling in their private lives.

    John Steinbeck’s quote is thought-provoking, in a sad sort of way. I wish that wasn’t the case.

    1. I suppose depression is an affliction that doesn’t discriminate. Whether rich or poor, successful or not, it can catch hold of anyone. As my friend Bhavana says, it is a dark river that runs silently, insidiously in the hearts of people. And you never know it, they hide it so well.

      I too wish great and precious things weren’t lonely. But then wishing doesn’t make it so… not always.

  4. A thoughtful piece again, Dagny. That last major para says it all. Depression is not a sadness monologue, an unshakeable monotone. But rather a song in itself and sometimes you get lost in a tune. To some it feels like freedom.

    Hugs, Dagny <3…hugs again

    1. Bhavana, it felt like freedom to me also, the first time the thought occurred to me. I dreamed about it. I saw that I had jumped out of a window (and me with severe vertigo!) and I flew away. Such joy, such freedom! Oh, it was awesome!

      Hugs to you too Bhavana <3

  5. The more famous and celebrated you are, the more lonely you feel. I saw my mother go through terrible depression and the yo-yoing under medication. I feel depressed too but never as a phase. I guess your support structure plays a very important role in pulling you out of it. A warm hug, a loving word, a kind gesture or a heart-to-heart talk all help. I feel when down though the tendency is to clam up, reaching out to someone for help may help. Terribly tragic about Robin Williams. Who knows about the demons in his life? His screen persona was after all make b.elieve

    1. Your support structure makes all the difference Rachna. After all, depression is born of a feeling of abandonment and isolation. If you have people around you who understand you and can give you the affirmation you need, it would certainly help. In such cases though, if the depressed person cuts themselves off from their support structure, then there’s nothing to be done.

    1. Why only clowns and public figures Rajrupa, we don’t even see each other’s tears. It is sad to see how lonely most of us really are behind our easy smiles and busy lifestyles. Maybe this would serve as a wakeup call.

  6. I feel welled up inside after reading this…I don’t like reading about depressing news or knowing depressing things…It affects me a lot… Even I stop watching shows when there is a depressing curve in it…I don’t know what I wanted to write here…Just hope he rests in peace now…

    1. I don’t like reading depressing news either Naba. It affects me for days. But to turn away from the tragic news of this man’s passing away seemed as if I was being uncaring and disloyal to what he meant to me.
      I hope I will be able to be there for some other on-the-edge Robin Williams as he fights his battles with his own demons. That’s all I pray for.

  7. Some people laugh when they want to cry.I think there can’t be a more abject case of loneliness. Because in this you have crossed the reasonable boundary of even being able to express your depression.. Tragic.

    1. You’ve said it so well Asha. To counterfeit so completely is to erect insurmountable barriers to ever letting yourself be ‘seen’. Such terrible prisons we make for ourselves!

  8. Again an emotion that I have seldom felt, so can only understand from the head and not the heart. I have felt hurt, angry, sad and all that but never worthless. Must be because I have a deficient thought process that refuses to think about what other people think of me.

    But, yes, celebrities can and do feel lonely and depressed. The problem is that they can never be sure about any given person’s feelings towards them – whether it is the celebrity status that attracts the person or their own personality. If you are constantly doubtful about whether you are loved for yourself or for your success, it breeds terrible insecurity, since you have a lot to fear about losing the celebrity status.

    In a way, blessed are the ordinary, since their relationships HAVE to be for the people they are and not for what they have.

    1. Suresh,

      Depression such as Robin Williams suffered from is not something born of life circumstances alone. Genetics also plays a role in it. Such people are more prone to depression that others.

      You are right. A major cause for celebrities to feel depressed must be because they aren’t sure whether they are loved for themselves or for their celebrity status. I’m sure they see more hypocrisy in their personal relationships than do ordinary people. Sad really.

      The ordinary are blessed indeed. 🙂

      1. I do know depression arises from a variety of factors – genetic, hormonal etc. What I was trying to say was just that it manifests itself around some perceived deficiency in life AND, for celebrities who seem to have everything, this is a probable reason. When depressed one feels a lack of self-worth. When the world around you stands testimony to your worth, the way it works is by discounting the testimony.

        1. Absolutely. When you are depressed you discount all evidence that you are loved and cherished. The truth is, it doesn’t matter to you that many people love you. They may love you in ‘their own way’, not in the way you want to be loved. You forget that everyone loves others only in ‘their own way’. You choose to forget that you too love people in ‘your own way’- not in the way they may want to be loved. That absolutely unreasonable thought can seem perfectly valid and incredibly sad to you when you are depressed. A dangerous thing, depression.

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