EDITOR’S NOTE: When I first met cartoonist/illustrator and standup comedian Teresa Roberts Logan, I was impressed by her warm humor and blazing-quick wit. When I learned that this Memphis-sprung comedian (HBO, Comedy Central) had worked with Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, Drew Carey and Paula Poundstone, it made complete sense. She is deeply funny. And when I saw that the humorous humanity of this D.C-based artist translated from stage to page, I was doubly impressed. (She is the author of “The Older I Get, the Less I Care” [Andrews McMeel], the cartoonist behind “Fog of Worry” and a National Cartoonists Society award nominee for her greeting cards.)
But when I learned she accomplished all this as a “depressive” while battling bipolar disorder, I was fairly in awe.
I spoke with Roberts Logan about this not long before we appeared on a panel together at Awesome Con D.C. last spring. When I got word of Robin Williams’s death Monday following his long battle with severe depression (as well as multiple substance addictions), I recalled talking with Williams briefly at the Mark Twain Prize in 2007. And I immediately thought of Teresa (professional moniker: “The Laughing Redhead”) and her honesty about her illness. Through her comedy, she tries to help remove the social stigma that surrounds depression.
With her permission, here are her thoughts in the wake of Williams’s death.
I don’t know the details of Robin Williams’s death. I didn’t know him personally, but I’m friends with many who were close to him. And I’m thinking of my performer friends Richard Jeni and P.J. Moore . . .
I had to break the news of P.J.’s passing to someone who was much closer to him than I. I’m just so sad all over again about losing Rich, too. Such a great loss — his creativity, the way his mind worked, and besides that, so nice, and encouraging to me in my comedy. Such loss.
And as a depressive myself who went undiagnosed for years (now diagnosed as bipolar), I want to chime in about Williams’s death:
Depression kills people. Is it a spiritual condition? Is it a disease?
Does it matter?
When you get that low as to decide that yes, everyone would be so much better off without ME around . . . does it matter?
It’s not a selfish decision. It’s one made knowing — being absolutely sure — that you are a burden to everyone, that they would be so much better off without you. It’s a certainty, and here’s a solution: End the pain, end their pain, end pain. It doesn’t make sense. It just . . . IS.
I don’t presume to know everyone’s journey, but the conversations are all so familiar, and ongoing.
Let’s be open. Let’s not shame those who struggle with this. Everyone’s journey is different. Depression will never make sense . . . but please, let’s not shame those who “lose the battle.”
I’m medicated, but ever aware of how broken I am. That stranded on a desert island without a pharmacy, I would be a different person. And I am aware that there is “no reason” for me to suffer from depression. How many times has someone said to me: “But you have such a nice family, and you have a career, and . . . and . . . ”
I’m not chiding those who inquire, but I do know that the shame of not being able to answer the usual questions is why so many of us don’t seek help for soooo long.
I hope Robin and Rich and P.J. are having a sweet reunion . . .
“Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face . . . ”
TERESA ROBERTS LOGAN will appear as a guest at CreativeCon Panama City in September, and as an exhibitor at New York Comic-Con in October.