Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fighting the Dragon

By now most of you have heard we've lost Robin Williams.
Another great man that we never truly realized how much he touched our lives, until he was gone.

And thanks to the media we are aware of the brutal details.  I honestly don't know how these people sleep at night.  Or the people that make the decisions that allow it.

I was shocked and saddened to hear he was gone.  Somehow it hurt even worse knowing that he was so troubled that he thought taking his own life was the only way to escape.

I know all too well about fighting the dragon.  I watched my Father do it my entire life.  Possibly his entire life.  He too, had an amazing sense of humour.  Which he used constantly to hide his pain.  I do it as well.  Now we know Robin did.  Other comedians as well, including Jim Carrey.

It wasn't until a few days after Robin's death, I learned there were people ...sick sick people attacking his family.  Saying horrible things, posting falsified photos...which have no other possible reason, other than to hurt these poor people.  People who have just lost their father, their husband..their friend.

I am so tired of celebrities being treated like trash.  Just because you don't like something they said...or didn't care for a movie or TV show they were in.  This does NOT give you the right to harm them physically, emotionally or otherwise.

They are just people.  They are normal people that get out of bed in the morning.  They eat their breakfast, they kiss their husband or wife and they go to work.  The only difference is their job happens to be on television.  Their reason for being there is to entertain YOU.  This does not mean you own them.  Although I do realize it gives us the feeling of knowing them, having them in our livingroom for an hour or two.  But they are still their own person.  With thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams.  And sometimes nightmares.

All I could think of was Robin's poor daughter...not even being allowed the right to grieve.  How dare these people?  What kind of person cannot open up their hearts to another human being in distress and offer support, compassion even love?

Not the kind of person I want to be around.

Then I heard a voice in my head.
It said, 'they did that to you..'

And in an instant I was walking into the room where my Father's 'funeral' would take place.  The room was full of my family and loved ones.  I had just lost my Father.  We all had.

But they had each other.
There were people in that room I had grown up with, played with, looked up to and given my heart.

During a time of loss....people say it is best to surround yourself with loved ones.  Or at least others that knew the deceased.  So you can share your memories, thoughts and stories.

I honestly did not know what to expect when I walked into that room.  But I had to go.  For my Father's sake.  And for my own.

When the ones I had been closest with throughout my life, turned their back as if they did not know me.  No, that is not right.  Even people I did not know came up to me to hug me and give their support.  They didn't care who I was.  They only knew I had lost my best friend.

Members of my own family turned away as if they hated me.  I will never understand what I could possibly have done to deserve that.  My mind has tried for years to fathom what a person could possibly do to have lost an entire family.  And no answer has ever appeared.

That's when I realized.  There is cruelty in this world.
Great cruelty.
And I should not be shocked by it.  Maybe it was because I am now used to it.  And I was shocked that it could happen to someone else.
But I should never be used to something like this.  No one should.

My Father fought this dragon for most of his life.  I tried to be there for him every chance I could.  It was not easy.  At one point I had to move away because it hurt so badly to see him struggle.  But I could not help him.  Even when I called every day to make him smile or laugh.  I still had no idea what he went through for those other 23 hours.

I sit here tonight typing to you on his computer.  I look through his pictures and try to keep as many settings the way he had.  It still says, 'Hello Mel' when I sign in.  I cannot change this.  How could I?

I found pictures, hundreds of them that he took of himself.
Many of them looked like this.  A few were happy.

This breaks my heart to think of what he went through when I was not around.
He spoke to me of the Dragon.  The dragon that lived inside that wanted him miserable, alone...or dead.  He said it was a never-ending struggle each and every day to survive.  Many times I thought it was a lead into a funny anecdote.  Or I would make a joke myself to try and lighten the mood.

He never gave in to the dragon.  He never pulled that trigger he so often referred to.  And for that I am so very proud of him.
I still lost him.  And I miss him every day.  I cannot imagine the thought of having lost him to that dragon.

Robin Williams family deserves their right to grieve.  They deserve their privacy.  And they also need to preserve their happiest moments and memories of their Dad.  Their Dad who worked hard to make so many other people laugh.  To maybe make their struggle with the dragon a little easier.

I know he helped my Dad.  I know he's helped me.  No, I don't have the dragon inside of me.
But I do live in this world.  I see the pain and suffering.  I see that we all need to try a little harder to reach out to others. 

I make a point of smiling and saying hello to every person I meet...every person that enters my personal space.  People ask me why sometimes. 
'Why are you so happy?'
And I say because I choose to be. (I really have no other choice)

And why is it so important to me that I smile at everyone I see?
Because my smile might be the only one they see that day.

My Dad had an amazing sense of humour.  Everyone that knows him will agree.
It is the most important thing he passed on to me.

And for that I am forever grateful.

Smile at someone.

Help fight the dragon.


  1. I too battle against this dragon that you reference. Six years ago was the darkest place I had ever been. Not just the kind of darkness that robs your vision, but the kind that you can physically feel with it's heaviness, like a thick fog. I could no longer work, I couldn't even muster the energy to pull myself out of bed most days. And days I showered, the exertion drained me, and I'd cry because I wouldn't have energy to comb my now wet hair. I kept the ringer on my phone turned 'off' because I couldn't bare the anxiety I would experience if it began to ring, because I knew whoever was on the other end would be expecting me to talk, to respond with a courtious, and cheerful 'hello' and I just didn't have that in me. There were times my own legs could carry me and I'd just crumble to the floor in a heap of sobbing self loathing. And each and every time I closed my eyes I envisioned myself ending all my pain, I saw myself cutting my throat, watched my blood coursing from the wound. I jumped from the bridge close to my home a million times, breaking the ice that Winter's cold, and snow had crafted. In the midst of all this there was a small voice in my head that would desperately remind me, "This is not you."

    I became scared of myself, of my irrational thoughts, of the Dragon's oppression, and of my depression. I put all my knives out of view to weaken the temptation of relief they promised me, and I then sought help. I started on an anti depressant, started frequenting a psychologist office, began getting out for walks, and giving myself daily encouragment that no one else could give me, it had to be my own. I prayed, I cried, and I fought myself through the worst.

    Here I am 6 years later, and there is not one day that isn't a daily battle. After I had my son, post partum hormones coupled with my pre existing state, and even with the dark cloud of impending doom that hovered over me for many months, I survived that, too. And every Winter when seasonal affective disorder grips me with it's claws, and my anxiety is crippling, I press on. Every year Spring arrives I rejoice that I am not only winning the battle, but I am victorious in the war that rages within me. I've learned how to live with and manage my disease the same way a diabetic does, I know what brings me highs, and I know what brings me lows. I need daily routines that motivate me. My fighting mechanism lies within my ability to recognize that I am greater than my Goliath, and to believe it. I've got more reasons to press on, than to ever forfeit. I will never be defined by it. I am a victor, not just a victim.

  2. Thank you Ruthie for sharing that. I had no idea it had been that bad. I am very proud of you.
    My Dad actually had one of those 'sunlight' lights to help him get through the dark winter months.
    My battles are mild....and are not constant...but regular.
    It helps to look into the eyes of my children..and the arms of my husband.
    I am so glad that you did not give up.
    Love you