Mirror/Predjudice: a blog on Micheal Brown and Robin Williams

dark-clouds-sky-night

As many of you know I am in the midst of a really amazing rehearsal process for the Chicago Fringe Festival. The workshop of “The Body Image Project” is directed by Thomas Murray, artistic director of Waltzing Mechanics. There were some huge things that happened over the course of the weekend and start of the week.  The death(s) of Micheal Brown and Robin Williams have shattered me to the core. ANOTHER African American boy gunned down by a policeman and ANOTHER artist lost to suicide. 

One of the people I portray in the new workshop version of “The Body Image Project” is one of my professors from Temple University, Lee Kenneth Richardson. One of the things he says in his interview that has stuck with me for the past 24 hours.

He says:

Can we look at our faces in the mirror without the prejudice…

It’s hard…

Cause you have to almost…

Like…

You gotta re-think

You gotta redefine…

You have to redefine yourself 

You have to redefine what is beauty?

Can we look at our faces in the mirror without the prejudice? As minorities in this country, based on what Black means in this country…can we look in the mirror without the prejudice? 

It is hard! We have to watch over our sons and daughters like hawks. Anyone who says we live in a “post-racial society” needs to get off the soapbox and walk a mile in a young black man’s shoes. Police brutality in this country- how can we stop it and how can we begin to take action? He could be any of our family members!  

Can we look at our faces in the mirror without the prejudice? What does it mean to be depressed? I was diagnosed with depression three years ago, after I attempted suicide and was saved by my best friend – February 2011. It was the day after my unsuccessful MFA Audition for Yale’s program. It was the day I found out the man that I was in love with was sleeping with someone else. It was the day that I got too drunk and felt like I had no sense of purpose in life. So I took 27 sleeping pills and drank two bottles of Vodka in hopes that when I jumped out of a window I would fly. Then an angel, my best friend Lateefah, came and swopped me up and changed my life for the better. I was hospitalized in Temple University’s psych ward and have been writing the play of what happened in those several days for three years now.

When people hear the word “depression” they think of someone who spends there days moping about in a bathrobe,eating Ben and Jerry’s, not showering and watching Netflix. I would say, from my experience, that can be portion of it depending on what stage you are at in your depression. What I can say is the highs are high and the lows can be quite unbearable. 

My best way to describe it, for me, is when I wake up I feel as though there is a dark cloud that hangs over my head. Sometimes that cloud rains and sometimes I can see a little crack of sunlight. But, when that cloud rains it absolutely pours.  A lot of people would describe me as bubbly, joyous, adventurous and brave. But, it has taken me years of periodic counselling and prayer to truly begin to believe those things about myself. There have been some days when I just do not want to wake up and those days are tough, because i have to force myself to live.

Can we look at our faces in the mirror without the prejudice of how other’s define depression? Depression is not a fad. It is clinical. You cannot cover it with a band-aid and hope it heals.

Robin Williams was the greatest comedic actor of our childhood and his suicide has saddened me. As an artist in this industry who understands battling addiction and depression it hurt really bad. Our worth, if we are not careful, can be determined by “the industry.” Some of the most joyous people we know can be the most depressed- you never know. Depression has no race, gender, creed, sexual orientation and anything in between. 

I have decided to take a Facebook break starting tomorrow, not sure for how long, but I need a break to get back to me. I need to finish the book I have been writing about this show.

This summer I have been uprooted and had to cut ties with some friends of mine who still mean the world to me. When that shift happened I laid in bed for three weeks and ordered GrubHub and relapse into those feelings.  

I need to re-claim my worth outside of the acceptance of social media. I need to get back to the things I used to do years ago: like paint and write. So I will continue to write blog entries and you can find out everything I am doing on this website.

I will keep my Instagram/Twitter pages up and BODY/COURAGE and BODY IMAGE PROJECT Facebook page up for promotional purposes. But, my personal Facebook page will be gone.  

Sending love, 

Danielle 

One Comment

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  1. I’m so glad you had a friend like her. The world would be less compassionate and aware without you. Thanks for sharing this. Maybe with what happened with Robin Williams, some people’s attitudes about depression and mental illness will become more informed. Thank you for being part of spreading that information and hope.

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