Peter Davidson is Bold. The ‘SNL’ star posted a note on Instagram, saying … “i really don’t want to be on this earth anymore. i’m doing my best to stay here for you but i actually don’t know how much longer i can last.” Pete Davidson lives with depression.
His note prompted dramatic responses from celebrities that sent him messages telling him that they were jumping on planes to come to rescue him, and begged to let them see him so they could save his life. All of it being broadcast on social media.
I don’t know if Pete Davidson was about to commit suicide. I do know that his message did not read like a suicide note. And, I do know that it was a courageous expression of the heaviness of living that depressed people have to endure. Most of us feel it, but few of us express it because it takes the courage of a hero to find the vulnerability to express it.
We who live with depression wake up every day facing a hanging bridge that expands the time between waking up and falling asleep again. A bridge hanging over a bottomless chasm of dark desperation. One false step on that bridge threatens to make us fall into a bottomless pit of despair from which we may never come out. At any moment our brains can try to possess us and lead us to act in a way that will make us lose everything that we love. Lose our lives to the darkness and hopelessness of depression, or lose it to the impulsiveness and recklessness of mania.
We have to go through our day constantly monitoring our thoughts and words. We live in fear that we may hurt the ones we love the most through our words and our actions. We live in constant dread of losing everything. For us, as it says in the Bible “The life of man upon earth is a warfare.” (Job 7).
We have to fight. We have to fight the human instinct of seeking relief from pain because our attempts to do so are often self-destructive. We have to fight the comforting thought of dying when life is just too exhausting. Ours is a life of true courage, even when we seem weak to the outside world. We live the words of the poet Robert Frost every day that we are alive:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
– Robert Frost
We turn away from the lovely and dark woods and stay here, like Pete said, “for you”. For the ones we love, for the ones that look to us for guidance and companionship, and for the awesome, beautiful oasis of joy, beauty, and creativity that we are sure to find if we hang on through our dark nights.
Pete said, “for you”. For the ones we love.
So, if you really want to help Pete, or any of us, this is how to do it. Give us a moment to take a breath. Give us a chance to tell you how it is for us. Let us tell you how lovely and comforting the dark woods look in our moments of fatigue, and don’t freak out.
Don’t tell us to call a crisis hotline. Don’t make theatrical attempts of dramatic rescuing. Have the courage of listening to us without panicking. Have the fortitude to try to understand our pain, overcoming your fear that it will depress you too. Just give us a moment and listen. Just listen and let us know that you hear us. Keep us company as we recuperate from our exhaustion. We will get up again, and turn away from the dark woods for another day.
So, hang on brother Pete. The night will lift. It always does. And when it returns remember that it will lift again. And, remember that you are not alone. There will be plenty of time to sleep in the woods later.
Much love brother.