When I heard the news about Philip Seymour Hoffman on Sunday my head sank. I was sad and disappointed, but I wasn't surprised. I had read the news about him going to rehab and had seen the very recent large format portrait where he looks utterly dejected. Not in the bored Hollywood star kind of way, but in the stuck in the prison of his mind's own making sort of way.
Money, awards, the ability to write your own professional ticket, a partner, 3 kids, he seemly had everything that anyone could ever ask for and still he couldn't keep himself from the desire to escape his own reality. No one knows exactly what Hoffman was feeling in the weeks and months leading up to his death, but as someone who has had to fight my own battles with serious depression I could see more than a little bit of myself in his story and it frankly freaks me out. I've been thinking about it for days now.
I've never tried heroin. I've never tried anything actually. Never really had more than a sip of champagne during a wedding toast. That's because I know I couldn't handle it, any of it. I intuitively understand that if I knew the escape that those chemicals could bring me, I would have a terrible time keeping myself away and that wouldn't be good for anyone in my life, especially myself. Consider it a preemptive recovery.
It's just harder for some people, something they're born with. It's not about success or money or love or the lack of any of them, it's just a nagging hole that appears without warning regardless of all those things. Like an old friend who always got you into trouble that you're never glad to see. At once familiar and adversarial. It comes out of the fog and whacks you over the head with a baseball bat right when you least expect it.
I'm not sure what I'm trying to say or accomplish here, maybe just the act of writing down my thoughts will help me get past them. Maybe someone in pain will someday read this and know they're not alone. If they do, I hope that they seek help from other people and not from a bottle or a glassine packet. Because there's nothing worse to me than regret or wasted potential. We should all make the world a better and more bearable place, but we have to do it together.
Even though my name is Bill W, I've got some issues with the way 12 step programs work, but they're a readily available and proven option if you need some help. Here are some links: