So, the celebrity “creative” world got gut-punched last week.
Two artists, who were seemingly “on top of the world” took their own lives in very similar ways. I call Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain artists because, hello? They were: she, the creator of art one could carry and wear, that shaped how people saw accessories in fashion; he, the creator of flawless food, essays, books, and thought-provoking social commentary on his television shows. If this planet manages to survive the terrible things being done to it, and if the human race can overcome the crisis of stupidity and ignorance that is spreading, like the black plague, throughout the hearts and minds of so many; future generations will read about these two and pronounce them icons – indeed, visionaries – of their time.
Right now, that’s a big “if”.
I wrote from the heart when news of Tony’s death was announced. Kate’s had affected me, but in more of a “Wow, another victim of depression” sort of way; I am not a purse/accessories person. Her death saddened me in a way that I can only characterize as vague.
Tony’s was much more visceral, and that feeling hasn’t really dissipated. His suicide was of a Robin Williams-caliber for me, and I was quietly alarmed by my immediate grief. The husband, family members, and friends were, too, because Robin Williams’ death was the event that sent me closer to the edge of my own, personal cliff. Without reliving the details, my life broke down in numerous ways because I was only just at the beginning of understanding that I was damaged but not broken; I was actually sick, and there were treatments. Three and a half decades of resistance to admitting that I wasn’t the Wonder Woman of my own psyche – and that I needed to allow more capable hands to help me – had taken their toll. That wasn’t so long ago, and I have worked pretty hard to recover and slowly back away from that cliff. There’s actually a barrier between me and the cliff in the form of medications, daily mantras, and people who have made it their business to watch me carefully and either taser my ass or physically hold me back if need be.
Just because there’s a barrier doesn’t mean the urge to climb isn’t there; especially given my brain’s propensity toward taking every little obstacle, every unkind word, and every dramatic event, and adding it, like another rubberband around one of those homemade, rubberband balls people like to make and keep in their desks. The ball has been getting bigger just lately, and I regard it, alternately proud/horrified/fascinated by my creation.
Tony’s death was one of those wide rubberbands that comes around a thick bundle of mail. Not a pretty color, and now that ball looks uneven, so I have been searching for smaller, more colorful scraps to wrap around it. It needs balance. Thanks, OCD! Not only do you try to control the silly idiosyncrasies in my life, but you insist on making my mental illness balanced and pretty, too! Bastard.
That’s a problem.
What I should do, really, is throw the fucking rubberband ball over the barrier and off the cliff. It doesn’t serve me at all to keep it; I don’t show it off proudly, saying, “Look what I made!” It isn’t something to show off. It is something to be ashamed of, because if I don’t get to work, peeling off layers of rubber bands, it’s going to become too big to throw. It will be found on the other side of that barrier, sitting on the ground, and I will be up and over, trying to escape it before it rolls right over me.
It’s difficult, however, to rid oneself of every, single scrap of rubber accumulated even in one, single day. Invariably, at least one gets added to the ball because it’s a good color, or it can’t be stretched around my fingers and shot off over the cliff. I think that I am strong, and that “just one teensy, tiny more” won’t make a difference, but that’s exactly what got me to the cliff the last time, my toes past the edge, my balance at war with gravity’s pull. My balance has never been great, and it’s definitely not something I would bet even a penny on now.
It’s so hard, though. It’s hard to admit to my watchmen that I have been adding rubber bands and that the ball is getting dangerously close to no longer fitting in the desk drawer. I’m like an addict who’s been hiding her gear; I desperately want to shield people from knowing it’s become a problem; seeing me as weak, or unfit, or “less”.
“Less” is awful. And I am prideful. But pride goeth before a fall.
Tony, I know I said I recognized you; the real you behind those dark, inaccessible eyes. I know I said that, while this was a shock, it was not a surprise as much as it was that sucker punch that we would expect to receive when two thugs – apathy and sadness – are holding our arms and that big Mob Boss – Depression – is cracking his knuckles in front of us and shaking his head. I am sure it was much, much more painful for those who knew and loved you.
But fucking hell, man. It fucking hurt. And now I’m looking at my desk drawer, wondering how the fuck I’m gonna get rid of my rubberband ball.
Dude. I am so mad at you right now.