The first time I was ever on a movie set was with my amazing friend Lizzie, and Robin Williams. We were over the moon. A REAL Hollywood movie and we got to be extras! It was a party scene filmed at a modern home in Venice Beach. Our hearts smiled every time we were moved just a little bit closer to the action. Closer to the visible part of the shot. While we sipped on our fake water cocktails ready to shoot, Robin sipped on the real thing. Cocktail after cocktail, he became looser and looser. Funnier and funnier. And yet, there was something off.
I know sadness. But more importantly, I know what it is to suffer from depression. Some might see my admission of this as a weakness. I may go to my job interview on Wednesday and have them aghast to the idea of hiring somebody who knows what it is to be more than sad and lower than the average low. I have stopped writing for a while because I became afraid that public knowledge of my struggles with depression would seep into my personal life. My job choices. My friendships. I do not seek to be a wallower, but my intention behind this note, in relationship to Robin Williams, is that in simple truth, I understand.
In fact 26 percent of us understand. One in four people know what its like to suffer. Whether it be from depression. Or anorexia. Bipolar Disorder. Or even OCD. We know what it is like and yet we remain silent. I, despite my efforts to make a difference with this stigma have found myself fall silent. Afraid. Afraid of what people might think of me. Afraid of the ripples this public knowledge will make throughout my life. Afraid of the half hearted “if you ever need to talk about it…” conversations. I have been a coward of my own illness.
Well, no more. “Some people are just born sad,” I had a friend say to me when talking about her own struggles with depression. We are born in a chemically defunct, lower state. Not a lower state of thinking, a lower state of feeling. Our normal, is your melancholy. Our happy, seems closer and closer to your ability to function as a human in day to day life. Or perhaps we swing, high to low. Paralyzing depression, drinking, thoughts of suicide, inability to get out of bed to flying high. Rainbows, nudity, loose behavior, and endless possibility. If that is the case, we seek something steady. Steady sometimes comes at a cost. A cost to your personality, pills that make you sleepy, and a slow, slow, thought process.
I am working on my depression. Slowly. Not necessarily surely. I struggle in everyday situations like making conversation and catching up with old friends. I struggle to be happy. Happy for myself, but more importantly happy for you. Happiness is a big problem and I want it so badly. My depression makes me selfish as the world revolves around my inability to do anything right. It revolves around the mistakes I have made and how I have let you down. It revolves around my fears for the future and my mourning of the past. I miss when the world was my oyster, but I have come to the conclusion that perhaps I have been dealt a clam. Or a mussel. And that shit is tough to open. You have to coerce out the good, yummy parts. Or if you hate shellfish, you have to go fishing.
Today, I was reminded that I am not alone in the saddest possible way. Today I was reminded of why I set out to make a documentary. Why it is important to talk about mental health. Why it is important to say, “Lets talk about this.” Clearly and strongly so that your sad friend doesn’t have a choice but to comply. So that you mean it with all of your heart. And I mean it. I have meant it since day one. So. Lets talk about this. Lets talk about what is going on with you. Lets talk about mental health. Mental wellness. Because, haven’t we had enough? Enough loss? Enough pain? The pain may not end immediately but it would be so much greater to know that people cared along the way. That you, dear friend, are not alone. I stand with you. Because yes, I am a member of The 26 Percent.