I thought about titling this entry "Robin Williams," as it was his suicide that caused me to think about this. But so much has been written about Mr Williams, his battles with depression, and by people so much more skilled as writers than I, that I decided to just title it with the subject infliction.
I am a diagnosed chronic depressive. That means I'm someone who is depressed about 90 - 95 percent of the time. I learned I had this condition back in 1985, when I became horribly blue upon learning that an actress on a favorite show of mine was leaving that show.
At this time, I was experiencing one of the best times of my life. I was Staff Editor of "Comics Buyer's Guide," at the time the "Variety" of the comic book industry. I was and am a life-long comic book collector. I had tried to sell stories, without success. But my job at CBG was the next best thing. I interacted with Don and Maggie Thompson, who were considered to be among the founders of comics fandom. To have your passion be both your hobby and your job is something rare to be treasured.
Yet, there was the definite sadness. In 1985, after the diagnosis, I began seeing a psychologist -- not the first time in my life I've undergone therapy. I had one, but she was expecting. The one after her was my poorest experience in therapy.
It was at this time I began taking a medication for my depression. And this led to the loss of my dream job. It turned out that, if I didn't take the medication every day, there would be a physical withdrawal. I didn't realize this until I had too many absences from work because of the withdrawal, and I lost my job.
It was during the period when I was still working (and, as it turned out, taking another medication which caused me to be depressed in spite of my taking the antidepression medicine) that was one of the worst parts of my life. I just could not cheer up. My coworkers would tell jokes, try to get a smile on my face. It was rare that one would appear.
Was I suicidal? I really don't know. I had two big things in my life that warded off such thoughts. One was my cat. I know, that sounds sad in itself that my mood depended so greatly on a cat. But I was concerned about what would happen to her if anything happened to me.
The other thing was that it was well known at this time that I was involved in role-playing games. I didn't play "Dungeons & Dragons" any. But I played just about everything with a comics connection, "Champions,"
"Villains & Vigilantes," "Marvel" and "DC" both, "Judge Dredd," and even "Toon." And this was when many people thought that, if role-playing games were banned, then the suicide of young people would also go away. I knew that if I ever did myself in, there would be people who would say "It was those games."
In the nearly 30 years since that time, I've come to grips with my emotional state. And I gave up the medication four years ago, under the supervision of another psychiatrist. I took a week off work to get myself off the pills and haven't taken any since. And I'm now sharing my life with cats four and five since the cat from my blue period passed away.
Yes, every now and then, the sadness can be a bit overwhelming. Like when I heard the news about Robin Williams. (The last time a celebrity's death hit me that hard was back in 1990 when Jim Henson died.) It didn't help that the night I learned of it, I was also coping with a rainstorm that had flooded many of the streets where I live, though I did eventually get home.
As some of you know, I've just undergone radiation therapy for cancer earlier this year. The tests to see if it took are a few weeks away. But I'm approaching 61, back at work, fairly good at my job. As things go, I'm doing fine.
Don't worry about me.