A Fans letter To Tina:
I beg you, if when you read this it sounds like I'm overstepping my bounds, not to be angry or upset with me, it's only my point of view, and I really wanted to tell you some things, in the tiniest likelihood of them making any kind of difference. Even though I'm sure you will have heard this a hundred times before from people. (Note from Tina-I had not)
I'm sure it must still be very hard for you to think about Michael's death, which is why I wasn't sure whether I should write or not.....
Basically, for the last 7 years, since I was 12, I have been suffering with depression. Unlike many people, there was no major event in my life that triggered it, I had as good a childhood as I could have wished for, and lots of friends. It has just been there for as long as I can remember, and I have always felt like something just 'wasn't right'.
My belief is that most people do not make the distinction between being depressed (which is very common) and actually HAVING depression, which is the chemical imbalance and far less common. The two are treated by doctors in exactly the same way at the moment - stick a few pills in them and maybe send them for therapy.
Of course, I have also felt depressed because of external influences - if someone I care about dies; that makes me feel depressed. But actually having depression means that even if nobody I knew had ever died, even if I had had an amazing life so far, filled with opportunities, which I have, I would still feel miserable and lethargic and not be able to see any long-term point to anything. Ok, so what am I getting at? I believe (and it's only MY belief) that Michael had a chemical imbalance, and actually had the illness, probably for years and years. Depression and an extraordinary creativity seem to often go hand in hand, plus of course, the low self-esteem about that creativity!
So, ok, after a lot of rambling, what I am getting at is, he probably felt like I do, except he'd had it for much, much longer, and probably just never recognized it. By his mid-30's, there was so much crap in his personal and public life, even someone without depression would have had a very hard time coping. That's why he didn't react to it all in the way that most other people would, and why he found it hard to see an ending to his problems, because that's how it makes you feel.
As regards the Prozac he was put on, that was simply negligent of whoever decided that, not to monitor whether it had any effect on him or not - many people simply find Prozac doesn't work for them, and need something different. However, nobody can be forced to seek counseling or therapy if they don't want it. I went to see a psychiatrist not so long ago, who refused to give me any nudge in any direction at all, she said I had to decide what I wanted to do about it, and then stick with pills or therapy or whatever I chose. I did. in fact choose, to do nothing at all, which is why I think if someone is depressed, they should be made to have therapy if a professional thinks they need it - how is a depressed person supposed to judge what they need in the long-term, when they have nothing to compare it with?
Psychiatrists see thousands of cases a year, and must know what is the most likely thing to work. But that's simply my view, because I suffered enormously from deciding not to have pills or therapy, and discovered a year later that I really did need them to get on with my life.
If Michael felt he was too busy with work and said he didn't want to see a therapist, there was no way they could have made him. And if you feel worthless and unable to cope, the last thing you think you want to be doing is wasting your time and a therapist's. (Of course, you wouldn't be, but that's how you feel).
I know it sounds like I'm talking about myself a lot, and not Michael, but I can only relate how I think he felt to how I know I feel. Since of course I didn't know him, and I may be totally off the mark and really offending you by this email.
I have tried to kill myself twice, and neither time was what people call a 'cry for help', where you believe that someone will find you before you actually die. I know it's not a nice subject, but stick with me for a few more minutes! I really, really wanted to die.
Now, I know it's nearly impossible to believe this when someone you know has killed themselves, because of the enormously painful guilt factor. But I truly believe that even had you been there with Michael that night, there would have been not a thing in the world you could have said to him to stop him feeling that way. I mean literally nothing.
You discover little coping mechanisms for when you feel like that, and after a while you realize that the feeling will go away after a couple of hours if you last that long. Although, it happens a LOT , and at some point your mind just gives up and says 'I'm sick of this'. Alcohol and drugs of course, make it far worse. I just really truly believe that nobody could have stopped him if he really felt like that, he would have found a way to do it whatever. So don't feel guilty or angry that you or anyone else could have helped him.
This is quite upsetting me to talk about, so I hope to God it isn't upsetting you, I don't want to do that at all. I was rather hoping it would give some kind of comfort, but of course it won't. I think I'm going to send it anyway and just pray that you won't be angry at me for pretending I know anything about Michael, because I don't. I just wanted you to know how I think he might have felt, even though I'm sure you will have had many people in my position tell you similar (or even completely different!) things.
I really have to go now, I think my lunch is burning in the oven (lol) which is fairly typical of me.......but please, please, please, don't be angry at what I've said, just see it as one person's fairly valueless opinion.
Thank you, again for your oh-so beautiful website; it's such a great tribute. :o)
Wishing you love and happiness every day.
Note: I have not included the name of the author of this heartfelt email, as I did not get an answer back from her. However, I am indebted to her for being so honest.