I love Elvis, I really do. I think his voice was simply magic, like the male version of Karen Carpenter, it’s liquid velvet on a rainbow.
Anyway, I was watching “Elvis on Tour” the other night with the kids and I was watching how everyone reacted to him. Sure, he was wearing a cape (!!!), he was fat, sweating out of his ears, clearly and utterly higher than a kite. But he was singing and something in his song and the way his voice lifted reached people in their soul and lifted them and they loved him for that. He had that power, he had that gift, that… whatever it is. He had it. And people responded so completely to him – even now, decades after his death, watching him sing “American Trilogy”, I couldn’t help but cry.
Elvis had it.
And yet he was buried under depression and smothered by who he thought himself to be. The talent, light, power, magic that everyone responded to meant so little to him in the end.
And now Robin Williams is gone.
Robin Williams walked the same line of genius as Elvis – as an actor, not a singer. He had that power, that light, the magic that touched people, that could really reach out to the soul.
And yet… he was buried under depression and smothered by who he thought himself to be.
I understand this.
I’m not Elvis or Robin but I understand how it feels to be buried under depression and feeling smothered by thoughts, I understand how when you are in that Dark Place, you can pull yourself even further down, you start to rationalize your Dark Thoughts, removing yourself from this world makes sense to you because you think you will actually be doing people a favour. Even for your children – the Dark Place will let you truly and honestly believe that if you are gone, your children will be happier, things will be easier for everyone all around.
The Dark Place is like an insidious cancer of the spirit – can we just call Depression that? Cancer of the Spirit? – because it wraps itself around you slowly at first, then if you don’t catch it or work on it, if you don’t apply your chemotherapy in the form of appropriate medication, therapy in some form that genuinely helps (and what genuinely helps looks different for everyone, it’s not one-size-fits-all), if you don’t treat it, it will spread. And spread. And spread. And if you let go of your treatment, it will renew itself and your remission will end and before you know it, it has wrapped itself around your spirit once more, tight.
And everything you ever thought you knew about yourself is just… gone.
Your light, your power, your value to humanity, to your family… you just can’t see it. It’s like it does not exist, it’s like the only thing you can hear in your head are the whispers that come from the Dark Place, the reverberations of hurt, pain and sorrow. The Cancer of the Spirit has come back, you are dying inside and it makes So. Much. Sense. to just remove yourself.
And I am not alone in understanding this – millions of us understand this all too well, millions of us know this Cancer and millions of us struggle to keep the remission at bay.
It is difficult for some to understand the ‘why’, it’s impossible to connect the dots between a person with so much light and talent, a person so well loved. If you have not been touched by that particular type of Cancer, it is very well impossible to understand how it can suffocate and kill your spirit.
What I hope is that we can learn to be more open about it – that the person who says, “I am suffering from clinical depression” will receive help and support in the same way that others who suffer from other forms of cancer do. That we’ll have awareness walks for Depression – the Cancer of the Spirit, that we’ll raise funds to help people who need the therapy and medication. That we will be able to help each other through that Dark Place and back into a joy-filled space, as we were meant to be.
A giant has fallen.
For those of us still on this earth, in this life? Let’s honour the spirit of this guy who had us wanting to wear rainbow suspenders when we were kids.
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