Does the use of drugs and alcohol fuel depression, or does depression fuel drug and alcohol abuse? In my view, trying to answer this is like trying to answer the age-old question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I'm sure we could debate this until the end of time and not come up with an affirmative answer, or solution, to these tragic epidemics that have led to the senseless demise of so many people. I've been reliving this very reality for the past week, since I learned of the suicide of Robin Williams.
I am no stranger to clinical depression. I hid it pretty well until I was 38, but depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder finally took me down, and I was forced to get some help. Can I understand self-medicating, in lieu of getting help from a trained professional? YES! I remember how ashamed and terrified I was, sitting in a psychiatrist's waiting room, answering questions on a form that would help them mold my treatment plan... and trying to rationalize in my mind just how to skip out of there before my name was called to see the doctor. I am still grateful that I wasn't quick enough to escape!
I totally understand why some people would rather not publicly acknowledge their depression, and instead, self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. No forms to fill out in waiting rooms. No embarrasment as people look at you over their magazines in said waiting rooms. No acknowledgement of the pain and anxiety you feel, often 24/7, 12 months a year. No getting to the root of the problem. If that same person has an addictive personality, what seems like an easy fix (street drugs and alcohol) leads to a greater nightmare than depression alone.
We all know someone, I'm sure, who has waged this war. I've watched people I love opt for self-medication over professional help for depression, and I've seen each of them sputter and fall. Luckily, they are still inhaling and exhaling, and a part of my life.
I've also known people whose dependence on drugs and alcohol has disrupted their lives to the point where depression joins forces with their abusive behaviors. I have not personally experienced this reality, but I have witnessed it. And the pain extends to everyone who loves them. It's a crisis that should be addressed and acknowledged...and it needs to stop! Right now!
After the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, I wrote the song "One Too Many Times". My producer and videographer, Daniel Lee, worked with me to create a video to accompany my song, acknowledging so many people that we as Americans have loved and lost. (Admittedly, there are so many, many more people who are not "celebrities" who have fallen victim to this epidemic, some that I knew personally. I dedicate my video to ALL those who have succumbed, that with acknowledgment, there might one day be an end to these senseless deaths.)
Last week, Daniel honored me by covering my song, and including Robin Williams in the video. It continues to tug at my heart whenever I think of the pain that Robin must have felt. Was it purely depression that led him to take his life? Was it his battle with addiction that finally caused such futility that suicide was his only alternative? Or might it have been a combination of the two? I don't think the answer is important, but I do think that awareness is. Please watch this and share with others who might have been touched by depression, addiction, or both.
RIP Robin...You will always be someone I look to when the world seems too cruel to bear and only laughter will lighten my load.
Until next blog, peace and love to you...dorothy