superlative

Hello, my name is Alex.

"And know that you mean something."

Robin Williams wrote that in his Reddit AMA around ten months ago.

And I hope more than anything right now that this morning, he knew that he did as well.

Because when I was at work today, sitting in the conference room and I saw the first tweets come in about your death, Mr. Williams, I didn’t quite know how to process it. Truthfully, I initially thought this had to be an insensitive joke — you just seemed like the “type” of person someone would make up cruel death rumors about.

I waited for a tweet, a retweet, something to expose the truth and cast off the veil.

But it never came, because it was the real truth — that someone who asked a fifteen year old kid, struggling with the crippling idea of failure every overachiever is wont to face, what his verse would be would be gone.

Before I met my real life Mr. Keating in twelfth grade AP English class — one Mr. Case who taught me what my verse was — I had you.

Depression is the reported cause and suicide is the reported effect, and if this is true, it makes your gigantic life even more resonant in light of my own.

Like millions of others could tell you, depression is terrifying, not because of any particularly feeling of loss, but because of the confusion. And in that confusion, you compare. You try to get any potential grasp on your perceived lack thereof — why you can’t be happy like everyone else?

It’s when you look at the laughing faces, the smiling faces — even the people with the slightest smirk of content — and ask how that is possible. Not why, but how? In your confusion, you seem to forget every emotion, even sadness, because depression isn’t a sorrowful experience. True to its namesake, it’s a flattening of reality, as if you are some single-celled microbe graced with the ability to perceive and notice the complexities and differences of everyone around you.

The natural question then becomes, “How can I not be that?” You forget who you were, are and will be.

In your loss, I’m at least glad we can remember the smiles you made, the questions you asked, the jokes you cracked — the beauty of your life; I’m glad we can remember everything you were even if you couldn’t. Because that is what mental illness is; it lives behind all that joy, and it’s perfectly normal.

It’s not something to be stigmatized.

It’s not something to be trivialized.

It’s not something to be desensitized.

We embrace it like we embrace every happy memory of a genie, a clown, a manchild lost in a reality away from Neverland and then again in a board game, an English teacher in love with poetry — as a part of that person, completely and utterly, beautifully.

For this is what we stay alive for, to contribute a verse.