Knowing Your End Date

Posted: August 23, 2014 in Depression, Suicide, Survival

In Thaiboxing, the brutal national sport of Thailand, fighters fight full contact for 5 x 3 minute rounds. Blood is plentiful. Knockouts a regular event. Lots of money and bright futures for the winners.

Now an interesting phenomenon happens in the last round when a fight is one-sided. Quite often the winner will stay stay away from the loser saving them both injury. They effectively “give up the fight” knowing the end is near and the result obvious. Plus they want to fight again the next week.
Pretty logical.
So is it giving up when the end is in sight and the result is obvious. Is that what Robin Williams did? Was it as rational as the action of the Thai fighter?

The suicide of a comic
Williams created his own end date. He knew he was going to die gradually of Parkinson’s disease anyway. Based on what we know now, it is logical.
So is it suicide?
Yes.
Did depression “beat” him?
Probably not if he had a terminal illness. Maybe just an early exit to avoid a Michael J Fox scenario.

My cardiac disease
My great uncle died at 49 of a heart attack. My paternal grandfather died at 51 of a heart attack. I have heart disease and in my 40’s felt the degeneration of a failing heart. I would struggle through each day with a feeling of fatigue and breathlessness that worsened on a weekly basis. The sleep I needed increased from 8 hours a day to 12 hours to 15. The end was in sight.
I had open heart surgery at 50. I’m 52 now so in the clear (I think.) I have no side effects apart from a ridiculously handsome scar down the centre of my chest and an audible clicking sound of the titanium valve doing its job. One click for every beat. Saved.
So what if you knew your end date? Would you act any differently? Probably not now, but if it was close would there be a shift in your actions? Would you think differently? Of course you would. What if there was a steady decline? At what point would you politely bow out like Robin Williams did? At what point would it become not worth it?

Depression is like being in sight of the end but with no physical reason. For those who have struggled with this, words like ‘dark’, ‘hopeless’ and ‘alone’ are constant companions. Looking back I can still see the dark shadow that once surrounded me.

Click the image to see the infamous attitude that allowed Papillion to escape Devil's Island.

Click the image to see the infamous attitude that allowed Papillion to escape Devil’s Island.

So how did I get through it?

Fight To The End
I found that deep inside me, there is an obstinate, determined, aggressive fighter that proudly stands his ground, refusing to give in. Even in the face of absolute failure. By failure, I don’t mean as a fighter. I mean in life. In day to day living. Sometimes I fall flat on my face. We all do. But lying there, a voice inside me says to adversity, “Is that the best you got?”
I don’t know if this developed in my upbringing, or if it is innate in every human being. I’d like to think that it is in all of us. But in times of despair, I just don’t care. It’s there and it saves me.
Now that you have read this, I can hear you say, “Is that the best you got?”

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