After the untimely death of Robin Williams (Actor) in-part due to his ongoing struggle with depression, I looked back over my life when I have battled my own demons and somehow came through those difficult and dark days.
My first and most severe bout of depression struck me when I was only 19 years old. My good friend ‘Bluey’ because of her amazing blue eyes, was struck down by a drink driver in December of 1984. After a week in a coma she sadly passed away aged just 20 years old.
My first instinct was to enact so sort of revenge on the driver of the car. Nasty thoughts came to me both night and day. Luckily, and looking back on the situation, I didn’t pursue my initial instinct.
I would spend hours looking over pictures of Bluey. Time would simply melt away. I neglected my studies and quit my part-time job. I talked to her and begged her to reply. Obviously she didn’t. How could she, she was dead. I simply wasn’t thinking logically.
I had lost weight. I cared not what anyone had to say. I was (looking back) in a terminal decline. I turned to alcohol. I was a mess. If only I could be with Bluey. No one would miss me. No one would care. I’d be just another statistic. (This wasn’t the case of course. My parents loved me more than I ever deserved. They would have been devastated. But at that time it didn’t register with me.)
Then one day, I was walking aimlessly, I had nowhere to go and no thoughts of where I was headed. Suddenly I found myself walking along an old abandoned railway bridge. Now I knew the location, I knew it was miles from where I lived, I knew I shouldn’t be up there. Yet looking down into the valley below I felt a strange calmness come over me. Should I step onto the ledge? I could fall and everything would be over with in just a matter of seconds.
Well, you’re reading this so you know I didn’t jump, right? Why not? Because I wasn’t brave enough? Because I didn’t love Bluey enough to go and be with her? Because I though there was light at the end of a very dark tunnel? If I’m being honest, I don’t know why I didn’t jump.
A few days later I was running an errand for an elderly neighbour. He was a kind man. A Polish refugee from WW2. I didn’t know much about him. He was just an old man. However, on that day when I arrived to deliver the goods I had gotten for him, he invited me into his home. He told me how he had noticed a change in my personality. How I seldom said ‘hello’ even less smile. How he was concerned for me. Why was I so sad? I related to him the same issues I have related to you. He sat there, opposite from me, unblinking for what seemed an age.
Then he spoke just a few words which changed my outlook on life. ‘Mark, carry with you those you love, those you cherish. Don’t think of them with a sad heart Remember them and smile, laugh and even joke with them as though they are still by your side. For they are you and you are them. Your lives were interwoven for a reason. Be strong. Look ahead. Live life.’
With that he shook my hand. Sir, I remember your words of wisdom. I carry YOU with ME every single day.
A man who touched my soul!