Today I found myself the subject of an Internet meme. Not for the first time.
This one, however, stands out from the rest.
In 2010, semi-retired from acting, I was keeping a low-profile for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, I was suicidal.
This is a subject I've since written about, spoken about, shared about. But at the time I suffered in silence. As so many do. The extent of my struggle known to very, very few.
Ashamed and in pain, I considered myself damaged goods. And the voices in my head urged me down the path to self-destruction. Not for the first time.
I've struggled with depression since childhood. It's a battle that's cost me time, opportunities, relationships, and a thousand sleepless nights.
In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food. It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to. Count on to get me through. There were stretches when the highlight of my week was a favorite meal and a new episode of TOP CHEF. Sometimes that was enough. Had to be.
And I put on weight. Big f--king deal.
One day, out for a hike in Los Angeles with a friend, we crossed paths with a film crew shooting a reality show. Unbeknownst to me, paparazzi were circling. They took my picture, and the photos were published alongside images of me from another time in my career. "Hunk To Chunk." "Fit To Flab." Etc.
My mother has one of those "friends" who's always the first to bring you bad news. They clipped one of these articles from a popular national magazine and mailed it to her. She called me, concerned.
In 2010, fighting for my mental health, it was the last thing I needed.
Long story short, I survived.
So do those pictures.
Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without.
Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist.
Anyway. Still. Despite.
The first time I saw this meme pop up in my social media feed, I have to admit, it hurt to breathe. But as with everything in life, I get to assign meaning. And the meaning I assign to this/my image is Strength. Healing. Forgiveness.
Of myself and others.
If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Reach out. Text. Send an email. Pick up the phone. Someone cares. They're waiting to hear from you. Much love. - W.M.
And this was his subsequent post...
Generally I like to post every day M-F. But after my last post I felt the need to take a beat. Reflect. Go for a walk. Continue my self-care routines. And stock up on deodorant. (Some things won't wait.)
I spent a lot of time thinking about all the things I'm grateful for. I'll start with the people on this page. On Instagram and Twitter too.
What amazes me - humbles me - is how fantastic people are.
Again and again, someone claiming to be struggling themselves, out of gas by the side of the road, took time to offer support. To speak life. Modeling grace and hope and compassion and generosity.
I don't take that for granted. You guys have given me many, many gifts.
If anyone feels like they're alone in the battle against depression, anxiety, what have you... one look at this page proves the opposite is true.
To everyone walking a road that looks like mine, or kind of like mine, or nothing like mine but still made an effort to comment, share, "like," and care, I say thank you. You are in my thoughts and prayers. - W.M.
Good on him.