On September 11, 2001, I worked for an aircraft charter company in Latrobe, PA. That’s right. I worked in aviation. I worked less than 40 miles from where the passengers of United flight 93 wrested control away from their attackers.
In the days that followed, Americans shared feelings of anger, disbelief, shock, horror and sadness at those coordinated attacks. Members of the aviation community shared additional feelings of outrage that the things that we love so much – aircraft – would be used in such a vile and deplorable way. The club of Americans had a set of common feelings and reactions. The club of
airplane geeks aviation professionals shared an additional set.
By now most everyone knows that comedian Robin Williams took his own life this week. That’s actually why I haven’t written for the past couple of days. I feel compelled to say something about it; but, I wonder what I can possibly add to what has already been said. I will say this: the club of fans shares feelings of disbelief and sadness. The club of the chronically depressed shares additional feelings of dejection that one of our members has lost his fight against the demons.
The Demon Fighters’ Club is kind of a sucky club to be in, truthfully. We don’t really even have a choice about whether or not to be a member. We don’t have a cool clubhouse, handshake or secret code. We don’t go on exciting field trips to interesting places. We just go into the darkest, most hopeless parts of our minds where the demons of depression live. We have lost members before – Freddie Prinze, Marilyn Monroe, Ernest AND Margaux Hemingway, Junior Seau, Wade Belak, Brian Keith, Sylvia Plath, Kurt Cobain, Tony Scott and so many others. Too many. They fought as long as they could; but were finally overwhelmed.
I can’t think that anyone would choose to have chronic depression or any other mental illness; so, as I said, we don’t really get a choice about belonging to the club. When we are well, however, we do have a choice about what we do with that membership. We use it to share our experiences. And because we, more than anyone else, know the signs of an episode, we watch out for each other. I believe that the conversation we need to be having right now is that the demon of the disease lies to us. It tells us that no one cares, that no one wants to hear about it….again. We MUST remember that this is a lie and we must reach out to each other. The disease tells us that we are one. Alone.
But we’re not. We are many. We are one of the club.