A few disclaimers:
1. I talk about suicide.
2. I say something about it that you might not like.
3….however, I'm also incredibly optimistic in this here blog. Like, almost Shirley Temple status.
4. This is basically my first attempt at blogging. Not in the mood to edit or proofread right now. Please bear with me.
Yesterday was a nightmare.
I had the mother of all panic attacks at work, the kind that makes me completely lightheaded and feel like I'm gonna faint. I thought the panic attacks I had on Saturday and Sunday were bad, but no, this one took the cake.
My mood was just down in general, really. Robin Williams' passing definitely cast quite a shadow. A guy I work with, a big comedy fan, hadn't heard the news. I broke it to him and we spent the day, side by side, in silence. It was a beautiful day, but felt oh-so dark.
After work I took my dogs for a walk, in an attempt to lift my spirits. a little girl and her father rode by on their bikes. She had one of those cute kid bikes: pink, with training wheels and those streamer things dangling from the handle bars. As she passed us, she turned her head to check out my dogs, and fell right off that bike. Un-phased, she got up, smiling. She was the epitome of cute little girl: blonde ringlets popping out of her bright pink helmet, bright blue eyes, and wearing a frilly pink ballerina type skirt. She immediately ran up to pet my dogs, who are normally friendly but get very protective of me while we're out walking. As they barked and yapped at her I explained, "They don't know you. They can't tell if you're a good person or bad person, so they're nervous."
"I'm a good person!" She said.
"Yes, I know that, Sweetie, but dogs aren't quite as smart as humans."
I turned to her father and apologized for my dogs rude behavior, and for causing his daughter to fall from her bike.
"I just got this bike today, for my birthday!" She squealed
"It's a really cool bike! Happy birthday!"
"I'm this many," she said, holding up four fingers, "and now I get to have my own bike!"
"Congratulations!" I told her, "and happy birthday once again."
Her father wished me a good evening, the girl hopped back onto her bike, and they rode off. She wasn't freaked out at all by the fall she took or my dogs yapping at her, she rode on despite the mishaps. I admired that little girl.
My dad gave me a bike like that too, when I was a kid. Rode it for awhile, even ditched the training wheels, but then I fell, and I haven't been on a bike ever since. Too scary.
Getting help for depression and anxiety went the same way: I did it for awhile, then I fell, so I quit. That was years ago.
It's so ridiculous, because pursuing help would do me a lot of good. And riding a bike would save SO MUCH gas money!
Robin Williams took a ride of his own. He fell, perhaps one too many times, but instead of getting back on the bike, like that brave little girl, he just walked away from it. He quit. He left that bike lying in the road for others to trip over, for someone else to pick up.
His death hits me in many different ways. I mostly feel angry about it, like "how dare you skip town and leave us here like this!" Some people are annoyed with me for having that attitude, and I wish I didn't feel that way, but I just can't help it. Sorry.
I understand depression, because it's something I've always known.I've thought of dying so many times, the first was when I was just ten years old. Yep, that's right, ten. I was in fourth grade and remember the day well.
I've gone through phases where I've been completely plagued with thoughts of suicide, planned it, set a day, written the note to my family, all of that. But most of my attempts have been incredibly half assed! Couldn't quite go through with it.
Death is just so permanent, it's really the biggest commitment one can make…and I'm kind of a commitment-phobe.
It's the people in my life who've stopped me, knowing that I'd hurt some folks if I checked out. This really kicked in when I lost two of my old high school buddies, Drew in 2008, and Jesse in 2010. Seeing their families and friends crying at their funerals made me realize that dying young just wasn't an option. I thought about those who love me and how I'd ruin their day/week/year if I died suddenly.
Maybe that's one good thing about being the adult child of an alcoholic: we tend to put others' needs in front of our own. Other people need me, and I can't let them down. No matter how much of a pain in the ass staying alive can be, I do it for them. For my mom, my sisters, my friends, even my dogs.
Actually, it was the dogs that stopped me during my last suicidal moment, in 2012. I thought, if I'm gone, who's going to care for them? If they get dumped at the pound, they could wind up dead, and I'm not taking any innocent animals out with me.
…say, would that be grounds for getting them registered as service dogs? 'Cuz they kinda saved my life!
In a weird way, the news of Lauren Bacall's passing served as a good distraction for me yesterday. I'd so much rather think about her. It's so weird…my user name on this site is the name of her character in "To Have and Have Not", this profile was created shortly before she died. On Monday I was watching some of my favorite scenes from that film, and that evening I posted her picture on my Instagram page, with the caption "it's an old movie sort of a day…I kinda wish I was Lauren Bacall!" While driving to work yesterday morning, pre-panic attack, I was humming "Am I Blue", a song she sings in that film.
So I was a bit floored upon discovering she'd died that day, when I'd just been thinking about her. Sometimes I can't help but wonder if I'm a little bit psychic! A friend of mine who is into all that spiritual-new-age stuff said that I'm "channelling" Lauren Bacall and she is probably my spirit guide. Okay, so that sounds terribly, horribly, painfully kooky and completely and utterly insane, but you know what? I'll take it right now!
I've always felt a weird connection to her. We have a couple small things in common: we've got low voices and slender figures. We are both staunch democrats and dog lovers. We've both been in relationships with men twice our age (except hers ended much better). We've both taken on the role of "den mother" for our rat pack group of friends. My best friend is a man named Steve, which is what she calls Bogie's character in "To Have or Have Not". Most importantly, we are both strong women…or at least I like to think so. I try to be.
Her friends have said she was the kind of women who couldn't be pushed around. "You can say she was a tough personality…she was a great person. Catch her on a bad day and it could be interesting." Said her grandson.
"Her presence was tangible." Said Dick Cavett, "She wasn't tough, but she could play tough."
Now that's my kinda gal!
I wonder if she said anything to Robin Williams when she met him at the pearly gates. Did she scold him for giving up? Did she take him in a motherly embrace? Or maybe she just smiled at him briefly as she ran back into Bogie's arms.
There is one thing I know Ms. Bacall once said, and that is: "You don't always win your battles, but it's good to know you fought!"
Now THAT is the attitude I wanna take right now, especially when it comes to depression.There will be no surrendering, I will fight this until I die…which, if all goes according to plan, should be many years from now and hopefully from natural causes.
Like that little girl I saw while walking, I'm getting back on that bike (metaphorically speaking. No way in hell I'm getting on a real one yet!) and like Ms. Bacall I WILL BE FIERCE!
Going out tonight, to hear some music and see friends. no depression,anxiety or any other weird thought or feeling will hold me back. It is a day for getting out of bed and getting dolled up. Got pin curls in my hair right now. Tonight I'll put on a vintage dress, light up a cigarette, and pretend I'm in some smoky bar in Fort-de-France. I might sing "Am I Blue", but at that exact moment I won't be, I'll be having fun.
Be with me today, Lauren! Be my spirit guide, my big sister, my patron saint. Teach me how to act tough, teach me how to fight, or just teach me how to whistle…And maybe…just maybe…I can make it up to 89 too.