Thursday, August 14, 2014

AM~Erica Sees Heightened Awareness

So anyway...

I am one who gets shocked &/or saddened by any celebrity death. Then I ponder their life, career, family, fans...and it gets really sad. But then August 11th was different. Very different.

Not only America, but the whole world, lost one of the greatest legendary talents & biggest entertainment icons in all of forever...

"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." 
                                                                                      ~ Robin Williams

We lost the spark of Robin Williams' greatness. Gone. Just like that.


Though I get shocked &/or saddened by celebrity deaths...this one was different. 

This man who I remember so well in my young life & on my family's television screen would wear long red pajamas with a big silver triangle on the chest or rainbow suspenders while uttering alien phrases like:
"Shazbot" & "Na-nu Na-nu".

Then I remember a great movie that brought a cartoon to life. I still love watching the corny cheesiness of "Popeye", along with it's catchy tunes.

I remember knowing about "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING, VIETNAM!!" I didn't get to watch it until years later.

Then, my view of Robin changed in a deeply changing movie for me. A story so brilliant, it was in a rigid ruled-school where the same gender dressed alike & were expected to be cookie cutters to enter the world...when an English teacher broke that mold. Ripping up a rule book & letting them know about a bigger world out there...and letting them know they are individuals. Oh...and using their smarts at the same time. The story has a tragic turn...and a situation happens that mirrored Robin's actual end 25 years later. And the tribute of acknowledgment still remains. "Oh Captain! My Captain!" It remains one of my all time favorite movies.

From a spin on Peter Pan to being Aladdin's Genie, to playing a cross-dressing nanny to see his kids to getting lost in a magical game, from heights of goofy or even dark comedy to hardcore dramatic roles, and to amazing standup & living in total improv...he made people cry. Whether it was with laughter, or with sadness...his gifts knew no bounds. At least to our knowledge...

In fact, he had been battling demons of depression & addiction for years. One of the most kindest, gentlest human beings who could light up a room or screen just by showing up was the same one who hurt so much. And, he was such an amazing actor that he could use his gift of humor and a well-chisled mask to cover the pain to the naked eye.

I had not heard any of the derogatory remarks about this, personally, until I came across something this morning. I came across a doubting remark from someone, who obviously does not suffer or is not aware of those who do, as to why the passing of this celebrity is so monumental. 

And I am going to keep this death out there since I am a passionate advocate of the very thing that killed him: Mental Illness.

No, many of us didn't know him personally...but...he made his way into our lives in amazing ways. It should also make all of us realize this nasty disease really can happen to anyone. And if it can take someone like Robin...then imagine what it may be doing to the person next to you while you may have no idea. His death should be making us talk about why the stigma still lingers. It makes mental illness even more real.

As a reminder as to why I advocate for this SO much is because I do suffer. (the reminder of my coming forward HERE) I have also attempted to take my own life because I was hurting SO badly on the inside. (reminder of that coming forward HERE) But when I attempted, and obviously failed, I had no idea I was dealing with this madness. It took years before it was brought to light in the midst of another very low time. It all began to make sense. Because I didn't know I needed help at that time.

You know what? I know of those close to me who refuse to acknowledge what I just told you, above. When I begin to advocate & make this awful illness known from my own experience, I know the ones who blow me off. I have also heard, from those close to me, that those with depression just have issues & they need to get over it. Ugh! If only it were that easy. It's not. 

Along the same lines, I am really hurt by those who talk about suicide being some selfish decision & that it shouldn't be lifted up in awareness. It's actually disgusting to know that people who have no idea what those of us who do deal with it actually go thru. At least try to understand & to listen. 

I am so thankful for my husband. Though he's never really been in my shoes, he sees what it can do. He can see it's not some decision I've made to cower in a corner & just be a shell of me. He tries to help me talk it thru, or knows to leave me alone for a little while, but is always checking. I appreciate him so much for that...and just another reason why I love him so much.

A former pastor of mine, mentor to my husband, and still very good friend, Geoff, also suffers. He wrote an amazing blog post when the world found out about the death of Robin Williams. I would like for you to take a moment & read it HERE. And, interestingly enough...I have noticed that some who blow off my story (like it never happened) have rushed to Geoff's blog postings (by him or others) & and 'liked' it on Facebook. I'm hoping it's like when your own kids don't listen to you, but if someone else says it, then it sinks in. Maybe it will start to sink in.

Also, for any doubters & those who spew any level of vile lies about suicide...I challenge you to actually look at the resources that have been so readily available since Robin's death, and actually for quite some time before that. Read it. All of it. And if you refuse to read it, then please do not give a misguided opinion on what you, the unaffected,  believe mental illness, suicide, and their connection is about. are usually in the presence of at least one person everyday, unless you live under a rock or a complete hermit, that is suffering or has suffered from mental illness. 

The autopsy results came out for Robin. They are gruesome...and it shows how much despair he must've truly been in. A pain so great that he was doing anything to longer be a burden to others in his life. Which is not true...but he was not in a reality mindset. He must've been in such darkness that the only way out was to leave life. There was so much good happening for him that he could not see by the clouded view of mental illness.

Why should we be talking about this celebrity who did something so awful when so many other people have done the same thing & we aren't talking about them? This is not just some other celebrity death. Life is precious. But we don't all know each other. However, we are all familiar with Robin Williams. It's the familiarity of the name & the person that has all of us realizing what we have lost in this person, collectively. Should we be lifting up these other folks? Absolutely!

My friend, Jenn, has an amazing support system she has created. I want each of you to go check out SOLOS - Survivors Of Loved Ones to Suicide (HERE). She created it after losing her mom to suicide. And I want you to read the stories shared thru SOLOS. This is one way to bring this nasty disease to the forefront, as well as having names of loved people attached to it. 

Because I'm a failure, I am so honored to be walking Out of the Darkness on October 4th. This is raising funds & awareness for those who have been lost to suicide, those who continue to fight suicide (like myself), and the mental illness(es) that can lead to these. Here's where you can help in this. Be a philanthropist & give to this cause. Here's a couple of ways:

You can fund my fundraising effort HERE. I have raised my goal again since that last post. So anything to help would be amazing! Or you can also click on the graph at the top right of this blog page.
You can also join us on Team SOLOS HERE, and you can join in the cause & raise funds, too.

click above photo for fundraising page & story

For the next 9 days, ONLY (as of today), you can support my friend, Jenn (our team captain), by showing your support & getting your own t-shirt HERE. This is the shirt most of us will be wearing for the walk.

click above picture to purchase a SOLOS shirt
Your help would be greatly appreciated!

Do you know what else would make me & many others grateful? Educate yourselves. Keep educating yourselves. I do...often. Just reading an article or two is not enough. Another thing to do is to talk to someone who actually has suffered or who does suffer. Know that there is not going to be a lot of logic in what you hear. It's because the brain is sick & has difficultly deciphering why we are so down, alone...even when others are around. If you want us to find help, quit using us as a punchline or looking down on those of us who go thru it. 

On September 10th is World Suicide Awareness Day. Just to let you know, the high-profile Robin Williams will be used as an example then, too. Be ready.

So...for all of you who question why we are even talking about a 63yo celebrity, named Robin Williams, who died due to mental illness & suicide...this is why. For those of you who are annoyed by those of us who have banded together in great grief over this particular passing, be wary as to what words you spew. We should mourn any suicide that happens. Because it could be any of us at any time. I'm envious of those of you who don't understand. It's a sad & broken place to be in.

If you go back & watch "What Dreams May Come," please pay attention to how suicide is covered. I grieved that part in the movie. I felt every moment of it...because I get it. 

Please do not turn your nose up or back upon this very real thing in anyone...celebrity or not. At times I still get that low. And if you don't understand that, then try to attempt to understand & get educated. Otherwise you are spewing hate against a very misunderstood illness.

And now, in our sadness, we should take some solace that Robin's soul may now rest.

And let us not allow Robin's spark to be completely lost &, instead, let's allow it burn brighter as we carry it on like a torch...

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

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