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The Circle of Life

August 19, 2014

Disney's Lion KingFive days ago, I celebrated my 63rd birthday. Some days I think the internet and social media are just a fantasy world in which some of us choose to live from time to time – for me, birthdays are one of the best days to be alive and well and living on Facebook. Wow! I can pretend! It sure beats the many years when my kids were small and my husband was either out of work or laid out by work and birthday celebrations were pretty much all my doing. The day I broke down and bought myself a birthday cake simply because I wanted one was the second most liberating moment of my younger life. The first has to be the day my husband said to me, “Why are you cooking for me, honey, and why the heck are you making my lunch? Don’t you have better things to do?” Hell, yes!

Apart from the fact that everyone from President Obama to Mighty Mouse wished me a happy birthday (you know I’m just kidding, right?) and thank you to all of you who were so sweet and kind and made the day so very special, Robin Williams death at 63 was weighing heavily on my mind. I posted some of my thoughts on

He was born just a few short weeks before I entered the world. Life is short enough, Robin. It’s a gift and I think you should have yours back. I think you should have a second chance. I’d like to think you’d choose differently. I have to believe you would, because I always have to come back to hope.
– have to; have to keep trying, keep believing, keep opting in.

Sometimes it hurts too much.

I’ve suffered the debilitating pain of depression. Many times. I’m grateful that the one positive that is coming out of his suicide and death is more discussion around this topic. It’s a disease that does indeed kill. Sometimes slowly, sometimes with a leap. I wonder if it is also a leap of faith of a different sort.

I’ve heard that there’s some discussion that he was taking medication for Parkinson’s that worsened his depression, making him prone to suicidal thoughts. I don’t know if there’s any truth in that. I do know that I’ve taken medication that altered my mental state so severely that only one more notch might have ended in the same results. For a moment, this information took my mind away from the hopelessness of his actions and focused it on anger at the health and pharmaceutical industry. Too many medications are prescribed. Too many people are treated as if we are all the same person who will react to the drugs in the very same way. Some of us are highly sensitive to all medications. And then, there’s my mother-in-law who was treated for Parkinson’s for five years before they decided she did not have it after all. The drugs altered her personality and her life for five years.

Anger alleviates the pain, hurt and fear, temporarily.

Anger at the drug companies and/or physicians should not take our minds away from the issue of mental illness. It is a factor, but mental illness is real all on its own. It doesn’t need any help to maim, kill and destroy individuals, families and beyond. I’m grateful that research into the brain has been stepped up in recent years. It’s a new frontier that should bring much-needed information.

I also heard that suicides the day after Robin William’s skyrocketed. Again, I don’t know if it’s fact or fiction. Makes sense to me given the hopelessness I heard in the voices of so many people. “If he gave up, why should I have a prayer of finding my way clear of my pain”, they surely asked.

The last year has been a turning point for me.

It’s been a death in its own right. After death comes re-birth and I a ready to embrace it wholeheartedly. I can’t wait to see what Robin will do next time around – though I doubt I’ll know I knew him before, or that I knew me before, if there is an after. Confused? Me too!

I’m grieving and I’m celebrating. It’s a both, and. Always is. I have hope again. I’m hanging on to it, until I can’t and then I’ll turn inward and discover something I didn’t know, and die some more. The circle of life. Ah, one of my favorites movies. I think I’ll watch it again. It makes me cry and gives me hope.

What gives you hope?

Living with Mental Illness and Surviving Suicide: One Mother’s Story

Midlife Transformation – My Recommended Reading List

10 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2014 5:47 pm

    I too have suffered from depression sometimes severe but usually it’s just there, a part of me.

    Tell me the story about how the sun lovedthe moon so much he died every night to let her breathe.
    “They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world:someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” ― Tom Bodett

    Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2014 21:39:09 +0000

  2. August 19, 2014 6:27 pm

    Congratulations on your 63rd. I am so glad you have an outlet like this blog to express your feelings and empathetic folks like Joan and others who can relate.

    Happy, happy birthday – and many more, Dorothy!

  3. August 19, 2014 8:04 pm

    Dorothy, Firstly, happy birthday. Secondly, I also have and still do on occassion struggle with depression. If it’s true that the suicide rates went up on the day Robin Williams took his life, I’m not surprised. And I’m with you on the role the pharmaceutical companies have in all of this. There is no argument that we are living in difficult times. I too grieve and celebrate every day. Thanks for your words.

    • August 19, 2014 8:24 pm

      It’s nice to know I’m not alone, but I wish no one ever had to experience depression of any degree. But the sun shines all the brighter after the darkness lifts. I appreciate you, Joan!

  4. August 20, 2014 12:28 pm

    Dorothy (always love seeing that name which is also my sister’s and aunt’s name.) Happy to have you in my decade. You are so wise, fluent, and candid about issues of our stage of life. I celebrate you and your birthday. XX

  5. August 21, 2014 5:00 pm

    Happy Birthday! You have so much wisdom, as is evident in this post. I’m glad you are sharing it with all of us.

    • August 21, 2014 5:10 pm

      Thank you for the birthday wishes, the wisdom is an ongoing process that will likely never end!

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