DEATH REMINDS US HOW TO LIVE

This past summer the news of Robin Williams committing suicide rocked us.

Reports say one of the best entertainers of all-time battled depression.

While crying over the news, something hit me; I too struggle with depression. Seems like I’m one of 16 million people.

Damn, picture that!

In seven years of blogging, this is probably my hardest entry to post. It’s not easy revealing your feelings.

But fuck it, here goes.

Robin Williams

This past June I turned fifty years old.  Oftentimes I find myself wondering what’s ahead? Know what I’m talking about? I’m always wondering what the future holds?

Mr. Williams was diagnosed with this “quiet” disease.  Cancer is talked about on a daily basis. Pink is the official color.

I have tried to learn as much as I can about this awful affliction they call depression.  I have scoured the internet for articles to educate myself.

Depression: How come no one ever talks about it?

Just once I would like to hear:

Hey how you feelin’ today?”

“I’m a little depressed.” 

But the answer is usually, “I’m doing well and you?”

BULLSHIT!

People who are depressed probably feel they are too “macho” to admit it.

Maybe it’s pride, stubborn pride. Yeah that’s it.

Or, maybe they’re embarrassed to admit it.

Maybe you’re afraid someone will make you feel worse?

“Get over it.” How many times have you heard that one?

Shit, maybe some people don’t realize they are depressed.

No one teaches us how to cope or how to deal with depression. They never taught me anything in school about it.

IMG_1857

Did you know October was Depression Awareness Month? I sure the hell didn’t. Just went 31 days and didn’t hear it mentioned once.

I’m here to tell you that’s its okay. But first you have to admit to yourself that you are depressed. You have to stop running away, stop hiding and stop denying.

Everyone talks about “toughing it out.”

Stay strong, battle, don’t give up…fuck all that!

Let your feelings me known.

Sit down with someone and talk. Call a friend. E-mail them. Text Message. Do what ya gotta do.

Listen, you’re not a bad person if you are depressed. It’s no one’s fault.

There is a stigma attached to depression. But we can’t let what others think hold us down. Here’s a little secret, I used to worry about what others thought of me. Once I stopped worrying about that shit, my life improved.

Who cares what people say behind your back. If they don’t have the balls to say it to your face, FUCK ‘EM!

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Matter of fact, do it now.

I have heard people say someone is a coward, weak or selfish when they commit suicide. I don’t buy that shit at all. I do know that you’re a stronger person if you ask for, or seek help.

Depression has led people to the bottle, cigarettes, drugs and violence.

Shoot, something as simple as eating too much is another escape route from depression. It’s a warning sign.

Motivational and Inspirational quotes get me through the rough times; matter of fact I start my day off with some hot coffee and an uplifting quote. I listen to music and exercise too.

My chinese meditation balls which I purchased on Canal Street 20 years ago have been by my side all this time.

There’s also Yoga, Pilates, stretching and deep breathing that has helped pull me through. There’s a ton of ways to combat this deadly disease. Of course though you have to take the first step.

I don’t know too much about the medical side of depression like biological basis in the emotional centers of the brain and all that. What I do know is I can feel depression.  It travels from head to toe. It’s like a river of hot boiling water flowing through my body; at times taking it’s sweet fucking time putting me through misery.

I get pissed off.

Fatigue sets in.

I break down where I don’t want to do anything. I become anti-social.

I feel sad, unhappy, often times miserable; another way to put it, I’m down in the dumps.

I succumb to a mid-day nap.

Some nights I will go to bed early.

The daily stress can get the best of us.

Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods. (I can just hear you saying, nah, not me.)

Growing up in Brooklyn will do it to you. Nah, fuck that, you can grow up with a silver spoon in your mouth in the middle of Beverly Hills and still be depressed.

From the outside Robin Williams lived a decent life. He was talented, made people laugh and was a hell of an actor. Do yourself a favor and watch his movie, “Good Will Hunting.”

Williams was loved by many fans. Did he know people loved him? Cared about him? Were there to help? Sometimes all that bullshit doesn’t help.

I live a decent life, have a great wife and a wonderful fifteen year-old daughter. I get to do what I love (coach basketball and write), life can’t get any better, right? But then why do I feel, at times, depressed?

Having supportive people around you is good but the bottom line is you have to deal with it on your own.  You have to make a decision that you will fight every day. You can’t give up. You have to dig down deep and pull yourself up.

I know it’s impossible to be in a good mood all the time. I try to act happy around others. (Act is the operative word there.) But there’s a trigger that sets me off, a switch which turns me into someone I’m not.

Sometimes I take it out on others. Sometimes I keep it bottled up inside.

Right now I am in Starbucks and while composing this entry the Barista is sweeping around my feet trying to get all the crumbs off the floor. Look I know they have a job to do. He’s hit the leg of my chair not once but twice. I was tempted to turn around and give him a dirty look. I was perturbed. The old me would have laced into him.

During my research today I came across this line, “Untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide in the US, and suicide claims 34,000 lives in this country every year.”

Don’t worry, I will never take my own life. I love my wife and daughter too much. I love life (most of the time) coaching and writing are my passion. But believe me, I do fight bouts of depression at times. Will I ever be cured of it completely, probably not but I have to keep finding ways to off-set this horrible disease. Depression will show up from time-to-time. It’s how you handle it that matters.

There’s some great material out there on depression. Here’s another passage I found:

Depression is the grand imposter — posing as all powerful.  It can be defeated, every time, if you or the person you care about confronts it like the grand imposter that it is.

At times when depression wants to challenge me, I do my best. It’s tricky. Depression wants to trap you, to keep you down.  But I choose to confront this motherfucker…I don’t run, hit the bottle or place blame. Depression will not defeat me.

And if you feel like talking, e-mail me for my number and we’ll talk. You have a friend who cares.

By the way, thanks to my guy Frankie P. for passing this article along to me. Wayne Brady revealed longtime battle with depression.

“Some days you don’t want to move. You can’t move in the darkness.”

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

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12 Responses to DEATH REMINDS US HOW TO LIVE

  1. Jim Casey says:

    Very well done, Red. Admirable.

  2. Buzz says:

    That was one of the best pieces of writing I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. It’s so tough to write honestly because our ego won’t let us. Two things have helped me whenever I got down in the dumps: 1 – Double check and make sure that my beliefs and my behavior are in agreement and 2 – Dropping the mask I wear in favor of getting back to the soul I really am. Thank you so much for all of your writing but especially for this one. You’d probably be amazed at how many people you’ve managed to save from falling into the black hole today.

  3. Maureeen Rice (Flanagan) says:

    Thank you for your honesty…every time a “famous” person takes their lives, there is sooo much judgement that goes on…too many people seem to believe that if you have money, or fame, or good looks, that exempts you from having human emotions..yes…$$$ definitely helps keep a roof over your head, etc…but…to take that step where ending your life seems like a reasonable thing to do…I, for one, never want to be in that much emotional pain…I have been in places in my life where I didn’t care if I died…and that was bad enough…I know people who I KNOW loved their families, yet they got to that space where killing themselves must have felt rational…people in major depressions are not operating with the same thought process that the rest of us are….there are things to do to combat it, the first thing is to admit it..physical exercise is good..pushing yourself to do things for others can help…talking to someone about it is definitely helpful…and, if someone comes to you telling you they are feeling down..get over it is NOT helpful, nor is pointing out how others have it worse…we will never know what goes on inside others..we can only hope to listen with an open mind….

  4. jiimyvac says:

    Sad to say, we have had an extraordinary number of people in the neighborhood who took their lives. I had a cousin through marriage who also did. he was a great guy. Unfortunately, they think the ones that they leave behind would be better off without them. I am sorry to hear what you have been going through. As guys from our generation, there is a tendency to think suck it up but it is not that simple and it is a real illness as any. Steven, that could not have been easy to write and that takes more guts than sucking it up…

  5. Michael Castellano says:

    great post Red

  6. Dan Falcone says:

    Well said. Red, your honesty is admirable. What courage to share with such open honesty. We lost an old friend about 2 years ago who took his own life. He was a retired NYC Firefighter. We had lost touch over the years but it was still so sad and shocking to hear the news. Please feel free to reach out any time at all.

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