After reading some emails in response to John Bottomley’s untimely death by suicide, as well as the brilliant piece on Roots Music Canada I’m even more moved and inspired. Bottomley’s death had that sad, silent feeling to it that he’d been claimed by the awful disease that is depression, and I was sorry to find out that my fears were true.
I’ve spent a lot of time down that long, lonely road that eventually took John. I’ve never talked publicly about that. The nature of depression is that you feel totally alone, but the reality is that those of us afflicted, clearly, are not.
The RMC post says that for artists “depression is almost an occupational hazard,” and that is probably true. It certainly feeds into much of the great art that is created. I talk to a lot of great musicians who kind of dance around the subject, but don’t often get into how they’ve been affected and how it comes out in their art.
Personally, I’d like to have John Bottomley’s death lead to something productive, something meaningful, and something that has the potential to do a lot of good. His last CD contains the inscription, “Music has a healing power.” Let’s have some musicians and music lovers channel that power. John doesn’t have to be the poster boy, by any means, but the impetus for something good.
Perhaps if John knew that he wasn’t alone and many of us knew EXACTLY what he was going through, things would have been different.
Perhaps if he had a forum to discuss his struggles and put a voice to it, he would feel better
Perhaps if he knew that telling his story might help someone else who was struggling, he would have felt that he was doing something important (which, of course, he already was, but in the thankless job of a brilliant, under-appreciated Canadian songwriter, he obviously lost track of that.)
Sharing these stories helps remove the stigma, gets this HUGELY widespread problem out in the open, and has the great potential to greatly impact the person telling it and to reach someone who might feel all alone.
I’d really like to be part of something that gets talented and creative people (and at least one non-talented, non-creative, but very passionate campus radio dj) talking about this. I think that knowing that some of us have some public visibility and have managed to “succeed” (survive) with depression might help someone, somewhere.
Can I (we?) do something? A website? Videos? Write something?
If you want to steal that idea and run with it, please do. I’m glad to help. If you have ideas or assistance to offer, let’s talk. I’ll keep thinking on it and try to get something going if nobody beats me to it.
Hopefully, if there is any good that can come out of a loss like this, it is that maybe we can give a little bit more visibility to this deadly , all-too-common condition which claims so many, yet is so rarely spoken about.