When You Die a Little Inside

Owen Wilson’s recent suicide attempt is really dominating the headlines right now. Too bad for Owen, but great for us.

I’ve suffered depression off and on since my teens. Sometimes it gets really bad and debilitating, but most of the time it’s just omnipresent in the back of my mind, kinda like my social insurance number. God knows I try to fight it, but I know I make my mistakes, too.

One watches these shows like Oprah and sees all the “happiness” experts parading through, telling us that happiness is a choice, and one can be left feeling pretty malfunctioning in a world of efficient and bubbly personas, you know?

Someone like Owen Wilson, who’s perceived to be this laissez-faire, lowkey comedy hottie, goes and tries to kill themself, and, yeah, the world starts to realize that your typical psych case isn’t necessarily always that anti-social asshole who has the corner office on your floor.

Me, I admit my depression history and I see immediate shifts in facial expressions, like I’ve just announced I have a bedwetting problem or something. It’s amazing how quick the shift occurs. The thing is, depression isn’t some icky-gross malady that can turn a stomach. I mean, it’s not some ginormous goiter or oozy weeping ulcer that most people try to avert their eyes from, but it’s still a strangely taboo subject. It’s the kind of thing yuppies still mutter over their martinis. Mm, you heard about his breakdown last year? He spent six weeks rehabbing in Oompa-Loompaville. I bet he’s having cocktail de valium as we gab.

Those of us who’ve been proverbially alone in the dark with depression get how debilitating it can be, how hard it can make day-to-day life. We know how incredibly isolating it is. We’re flooded with endless self-doubt and morose thoughts. Not always, thank god, but there are certainly days and months and even years of bleakness barraging us.

It is what it is, though. We carry on. It’s kind of like suffering from chronic pain. Sooner or later, it just becomes a new normal. Usually you can just get by on it. Every now and then, though, some bit of contrast comes our way and we can compare our lives with those of people who actually seem to enjoy every moment and have carefree existences. Then one of two things happens — either you’re okay with the reality but you commit to changing or at least keep fighting the good fight, or you feel overwhelmed by all you don’t have, all you’ll never feel (or so you think) and you want to just end the suffering now, because if living 10 years longer means living 10 more years like this then why fucking bother, you know?

But that’s the thing. That’s where depression and other disorders win. Fortunately I’ve never felt that way. I have noticed periods where I forget what I love about life. Like these past few months… I feel like I’ve lived in some vapid disconnect. I don’t get how I got here from there, and I’m just a little disoriented. It’s clearing up now for me, but it’s been a troubling year, and nothing like what I expected.

Am I depressed right now? Yeah, a little. But I have an action plan and I have hope and faith, so that’s everything. I also try to be open about it. I haven’t been that open about it this time, because I haven’t been writing, but it’s clicking into place now and I feel like I’m on the right path. Writing shit down: the best therapy ever.

I digress. Owen Wilson’s suddenly-public battle with suicidal tendancies is going to have a huge impact on people being willing to admit more of this. People like Brooke Shields, Halle Berry, who’ve admitted suicidal actions in the past, they’re different. A) They’re women, and gee, aren’t all women overemotional? (I’m parroting stereotypes. Bullshit!) and B) They’re women. Ha. Or they’re your typical angry-at-the-world loner types that seem to be a round peg in a round hole. It was only a matter of time with him, y’know?

Owen Wilson’s this funny, affable, easy-going guy with a penchant for porn and a million creative outlets. Brilliant, rich, single, good-looking… and yet suicidal? This is no Kurt Cobain here. The guy didn’t write a song called Lithium before putting a shotgun in his mouth. He wasn’t married to whack job like Courtney Love. This guy’s got the dream life, and yet he wanted an exit plan.

It’s nice to have the world’s best example of money solves no problems and fame is not an antidote to pain. Everybody hurts. Maybe now we can cut the crap and start talking about something real. Here’s hoping Wilson knows how to turn this into a positive that impacts others. Here’s hoping we all start dialoguing a little more about what’s beneath the surface.