“Well, there’s some sad things known to man but ain’t too much sadder than the tears of a clown when there’s no one around.”
– Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
In far too many tragic instances now, we are learning that no sounding of public cheers is sufficient enough to wipe away private tears or extinguish silent fears. If CNBC is correct, his movies grossed more than $5 billion, but not even that measure of success could stop depression from having dominion. So, while some of us ascribe to the foolish notion that self-worth can be bought, millions of people like Robin Williams start each day knowing it’s a fresh battle that must be fought. Their mind faces a daily grind, their hope always seems to be against the rope, and no measure of acclaim or fame is able to convince them that the future will not end up lame. You can be living the dream and still be struggling with dangerously low self-esteem.
I find it ironic that Williams’ untimely death by suicide comes just days after what would have been Whitney Houston’s 51st birthday had she also not, just two years ago, ended her own earthly ride. Both of them were undeniable geniuses in their own right, but had the often arduous task of non-stop living in the public light.
This business of depression, or what I’ve come to describe as “one’s destiny under compression”, has become a growing silent threat because people refuse to readily admit being emotionally in debt.
And yet, if history is an accurate precursor of future events, every imaginable community has had leaders with emotional dents. And while some will accuse me of heresy, I dare say the leader of my faith contemplated taking his own life in the garden of Gethsemane when his humanity was overcome with strife. Pressure has a way of taking your eyes off your inherent treasure.
In the jargon of this generation, we have to get dealing with depression off “the down-low.”
Black or white, rich or poor; we continue to see what unresolved issues can bring through our door. As someone who suffered in silence for years from the stain of an aunt’s molestation, I know how stifling it is to live with years of internal agitation. While externally I survived and in some areas even thrived, there was still a corner of my inner existence that functionally died. Now here we are still sailing on the ocean of life nearly50 years later, but occasionally there are moments when I feel like I’ve been hit by a freighter. No matter how much your future is embraced, the reality of your past can never be totally erased. But I am a proud witness that therapy can teach you to manage the damage!
One’s life can be tattered, but their future does not have to remain irreparably scattered. Yes, it took professional help, but I learned if you can talk it out you can walk it out. Sometimes a neutral but caring ear can help you to overcome your areas of fear.
The next time someone tells you they’re about to blow up, please don’t respond by telling them to just grow up. If they’re courageous enough to share, the least you can do is be compassionate enough to care. Williams once said, “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.”