suicide

The Pendulum.

The last time I did stand up, I did this bit about growing a beard again for the first time in years:

ME: Beard! How’ve you been!

BEARD: Ah, how’s it going man?

ME: So. You’re grey now?

BEARD: (mumbling like a war vet) This fuckin’ year man, this fuckin’ year…

 

2017 has not been a good year for me, to put it mildly. To put it less mildly, if 2017 was a person I’d seduce its wife out of spite and spread a rumour that its people took the soup*. And so it was that, at the end of this miserable soup-taking cuckold of a year, I found myself in a very bad place.

I had a conversation once with a writer friend of mine and I asked her if she knew any writers who hadn’t grappled with depression at some point. She thought for a long time and finally admitted that, no, she didn’t. The reason that I didn’t ask her if she had ever grappled with depression was because I already knew she had. Just like I knew that every other writer know has had to deal with it. My point is, it’s an occupational hazard. Footballers pull hamstrings, computer programmers get eye-strain, writers get depressed. So it goes.

I’ve always been a pendulum. I’ll write something and I’ll send it in and I’ll load it down with hopes and dreams. This will be the one. This will be my big breakthrough. This is the thing that will change my life.

And then I’ll get an email back that contains the word “unfortunately”.

And I get knocked back, and I doubt myself and a few days later I start writing again and I’ll write something and I’ll send it in and I’ll load it down with hopes and dreams. This will be the one. This will be my big breakthrough. This is the thing that will change my life.

I swing back and forth. Back and forth. And usually, it’s fine.

But early on this year, I got knocked back. Bad. Two really, really big opportunities both went up in smoke within the same month. And I found myself, if not back at Square 1, somewhere that looked and felt and smelt a lot like that particular neighbourhood. After that, the usual rejections started to sting a whole lot more. And the pendulum started swinging harder and harder. I’d put more and more of myself into every application, and each rejection started taking bigger and bigger chunks out of me.

So when an opportunity came up to write for one of the most critically acclaimed computer game companies in the world, an actual honest to God, full time writing job? A nine to five job where I could actually do the only thing that I’m actually good at? I jumped at that. I jumped harder than I have ever jumped. I wrote two Twine games from scratch, burnished my CV until it shone, checked my application letter once, twice, three, times, four. I wanted this so bad. And I really, really thought I was going to get it. I often let myself get carried away thinking about the future. But I went full on alternate reality. I had my whole future planned out. I was going to get this job. I could feel it. I knew it. And I was honestly more happy than I have been in ages.

And then, in work, I get an email from the company. And it’s a very gracious, very complimentary, very supportive email. But it does, nonetheless, contain the word “unfortunately”.

And the pendulum swung back. Harder, than it has ever swung.

(more…)

Irreplaceable

One of the problems with being lucky enough to have a forum like Unshaved Mouse is that you feel obliged to sound off on everything, even if you don’t have anything particularly insightful or unique to say about the subject at hand. Again and again I’ll sit down to write something about Gaza or Ukraine or Iraq and a still small voice pipes up in the back of my head.
“Mouse. Do you really having anything to say about this that hasn’t already been said, probably better, and by people who actually know what they’re talking about?”
“…no.”
“Then why are you writing it? Idiot?”
And I hate that guy, but he’s usually right. But this time, it just felt wrong to let it go by unremarked.
This…
This was a bad one, wasn’t it?
I mean, beloved actors die all the time but for whatever reason Robin William’s death has really hit people where they live. Last night, the scene in the House of Mouse was my wife tearing up at the end of Hook (“To die will be an awfully big adventure” “Death is the only adventure, you know that.”) and my two year old daughter stroking her hair and telling her over and over that it was “Alright Mammy.” This one hit hard.
I think the reason that William’s death has elicited real, genuine, personal grief from so many people is that each generation had “their” Robin Williams whether it was Mork or John Keating or Genie. Another reason maybe is that he feels so irreplaceable. No one else did what Robin Williams did, his style, his energy were just so unique and instantly recognisable. That’s gone now, and, as the Irish expression goes: Ní bheidh a leithéad arís annHis like will not be seen again.
He deserved better than this. He deserved to die happy in bed aged ninety nine and doing an impression of Elmer Fudd reading the emancipation proclamation. Not like this. Maybe that’s why it hurts so badly. This is not how the story is supposed to end.
I just want to finish with this. As I said already, this is nothing that has not already been said, better and more eloquently, a million times before. But I’m here, and you’re here, so I might as well write it and you might as well read it. As wonderful a performer as he was, as rare and talented and utterly iconic, he was not one jot more or less unique and irreplaceable than anyone else reading this. And if you ever feel like you want out, please remember that there has never been anyone like you before, and there will never be anyone like you after. And that to lose you would be a loss every bit as tragic and terrible and irreversible as his was. I’ve never been suicidal, thank God, but I have, like most people, dealt with depression from time to time. Talk to someone before it gets bad. Trust me on this. Talk to friends, or family, or a counselor. Talk to me if you want.
And remember this above all; depression is like everything else in this life. Temporary.
Stay safe.
Mouse.