People...today I want to talk about something that's really important to me. Well, I mean there's lots of things that are important to me, including sex toys, musk sticks, appropriate lubrication, well made Amaretto sours, informed consent, sex worker rights and Care Bears. But none of those are what I want to occupy your time with today. Today I want to talk about mental health. Specifically mine.
I've had depression since I was born, sadly my brain wasn't wired up quite the right way and as a result I don't comprehend what you humans refer to as "happiness". I'm fucking with you, of course I know what happiness is. No, the issue with my brain is that it doesn't process the chemicals associated with happiness all that well. Long story short, brief bursts of laughter or happiness can make me instantaneously burst into tears and some days I'm so sad I can't get out of bed...there's a lot of other stuff too, but that's what support organisations like Beyond Blue are for. They're great and if you think you or someone you love might have depression or anxiety, I highly recommend that you get in touch with them.
Anyway, my point is that when I was growing up, I didn't know of anyone else who felt like I did, who saw the world the way I did. Mental health wasn't something that was openly discussed and certainly not to children. So now that I'm a grown up (hahaha), I like to talk about my mental health whenever I can, on the off chance that in my rambling dialogue there's something that helps someone else. I guess it's also nice to remember that even people with depression can laugh and tell jokes...we're not complete weirdos.
But enough of my medical history! What did I want to talk to you about? Well today marks the one year anniversary of the death of Robin Williams. Now, this will either fill your heart with sadness and a reminder of what a wonderful human being we lost one year ago, or you'll be busy playing checkers with satan trying to win back your soul. Either way I understand. In any case, since I spent most of this week in a bit of a sad place, I wasn't really in any position to be writing about how to use your genitals. I mean I could have, but it probably would have been something along the lines of:
How to Masturweep:
Step 1. Use your tears as lubricant.
Step 2: Put on a copy of Old Yeller.
Step 3: Wait until they kill Old Yeller.
Step 4: Start touching your genitals while crying about everything you've ever lost in this life.
Instead, I'd like to share with you something that I wrote a year ago, when I first learned of Robin Williams' death. For those of you who aren't interested in the weepiness of some deluded white girl's attachment to a dead celebrity, well that's fair enough, you should probably return next week for our usual schedule of smut and sluttiness. For the rest of you, thanks for sticking around and please know that your support makes every day of my life easier.
I was in high school when I was diagnosed with a Major Depressive Disorder.
In many ways hearing this diagnosis for the first time gave me a certain sense of relief.
It gave me an answer to many of the questions I’d had through my life.
Why wasn't I like everyone else? Why was I always so "negative"? Why was I sometimes just so sad?
It was a weight off my shoulders to finally know that I wasn’t simply a terrible person who made other people miserable, which was what I'd always assumed.
There was actually something wrong with me.
I wasn’t just that miserable, pessimistic girl.
Now I was that girl with the disorder!
Of course where some questions were answered, new ones arose.
I was told that my depression was chemical, there was something wrong with the way my brain received certain signals and while there were many different therapies and medications I could try, there was no actual cure.
That day I realised that I would be miserable for the rest of my life.
There was nothing I could do about it.
I had never felt so alone.
In the following eighteen months I lost both of my grandparents.
Two people who meant the absolute world to me.
I stopped writing, because what was the point.
I stopped engaging with my friends, because they didn't understand.
I stopped finding any kind of pleasure in life.
I started to realise that this world wasn't something I wanted to be part of.
I made my first suicide attempt (spoiler alert: I was unsuccessful).
I didn’t tell anyone about this until months later since I was determined to try again and, next time I would get it right.
But in the mean time, one of those random life moments happened.
You know those things that you never see coming, that you should never even remember, but for some reason you do.
You remember it for the rest of your life.
My mum had a DVD that she was insisting that I watch.
I mean I liked the guy, he'd been a part of my childhood and that was pretty much why I didn’t want to watch it.
I didn’t want to see him do all the adult humour that I was convinced would ruin my impression of him.
I'd gone through that with Eddie Murphy and still hadn't quite recovered.
But my mum insisted that I watch it, insisted that it wouldn't change anything.
At the time I had a Greek Classics teacher at school who told me that todays’ entertainment was “an insult to your intelligence”.
Studios and television channels showed you the kind of crap that they thought you wanted to see and honestly if that’s what they thought we wanted to see, we should be insulted (this was about when the first season of Big Brother was airing).
She taught us that when someone thought that the bare minimum you required to be entertained was ten bogans locked in a house in Queensland, you were proving them right if you watched it.
They were insulting your intelligence and you were letting them.
Robin William’s was the opposite of Big Brother.
His comedy rewarded me for being smart.
He dropped references to things that I’d never heard anybody else talk about and he did it because he knew I was smart enough to get it.
Robin believed I was better than reality television and daytime soap operas, he believed that I deserved better and so he tried harder for me.
I realised, for the probably the first time in my life, that there was more value in knowledge than just the acquisition of it.
It could be shared, it could be entertaining!
I was more than delighted. His mania and his passion was contagious for me.
For the first time in months I cared about something again, I could laugh. I could actually see the funny side to life.
When I returned to boarding school I started reading more about him, this man that had entertained me through my childhood and now my adolescence.
And I learnt something interesting.
He was just like me.
He was broken.
But he was still brilliant.
Robin Williams was living proof that my diagnosis wasn’t a death sentence.
I could be happy again.
Suddenly not having a cure didn’t matter so much.
I decided at that point to talk to someone about my attempted suicide.
I decided I didn’t want to die any more.
I wanted to live.
I wanted to live like Robin, finding the humour in the things I couldn’t change.
My life turned around after that.
I started taking medication to help me cope.
I started seeing a therapist.
I started talking to my friends more.
My relationship with my mum got better.
And I started writing again.
Writing became the best therapy I had.
My life still isn't perfect.
I still have days where I don't want to be here.
But the point is, I am.
Mr Williams, you changed my life.
You made me believe I could survive in this world and I could do it with a smile at least some of the time.
I understand why you did what you did.
How could I, of all people, not?
But I wish you hadn’t.
With all of my heart.
I was so looking forward to thanking you in person, one day.
You gave me hope.
You taught me that it was possible to be both broken and brilliant.
You made me see that it was possible to laugh at yourself.
You taught me that I was allowed to be miserable and still smile.
Your advice, your life, your attitude; it still informs the decisions I make today.
And now all I can think is that you’re gone.
But I'm still here.
And I will never forget you.