spark of madness

Depression is a stairwell that gets progressively steeper and darker, the lower you go. If you go down far enough, you can't even see the steps anymore. Even if you could, they each feel so terribly tall that getting back up seems impossible.

I've been on that stairwell for much of my adult life. Usually I'm at the top, and I can forget - or at least ignore - how deep it runs beneath me. Every so often I wake up closer to the middle, and it's a fight not to slip further down. On the worst days, I'm clinging for dear life to what feels like it has to be the bottom step.

But I know it's not. I know I've never really been on the bottom step, because it's the one you don't get back off of.

On Monday, lots and lots of people found themselves stuck on the bottom step. One of them was famous enough that his inability to escape made international news.

Throughout the afternoon I kept checking Twitter, reading the reactions of other comedians, of writers and actors and creatives who'd been inspired by Robin Williams. I'm just another yappy, nobody blogger loaded with feels, but I felt like I wanted to say something, too.

The only useful thing I can think to say, however, is what others have said already: If you find yourself so low that the light is gone, reach out and ask for help. Even if it feels scary or embarrassing to do so. I cringe to think of how and where I've passed some of my lowest moments, but I'm glad to be around to cringe at them.

And if you do suffer from depression, ignore anyone who tries to discount or discredit your experience of the stairwell, or make you feel less than because of it. Each step is exponentially lower than the one before it, each an individualized version of hell that only you can understand.

That's it. Nothing new or different. Just another sad person reacting to sad news.

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We watched The Fisher King on Monday night. Neither of us had ever seen it, and it turned out to be the perfect choice. Terence loves director Terry Gilliam and I couldn't get enough of young Jeff Bridges. One part madcap, one part melancholy, two parts goofy-happy-romance. Not a bad way to say an unexpected goodbye.