THE BLOG
09/02/2014 11:28 am ET Updated Nov 02, 2014

Dancing Depression Away

A month ago, my Uncle Roberto passed away after a very short illness that consumed him under our astonished eyes. I flew in Italy earlier than I usually do for my vacation, because I wanted to see him: I was hopeful and determined to "infuse" him with my positive energy and good vibes.

The last time I saw him, the day before returning to New York, he smiled and gave me "thumbs up" as he used to do when I was leaving. Three days later, he passed away. I got the news through FB, text message, Skype message and Viber text: no one called me to pronounce the words "he is dead." It was too damn difficult. We had a special connection, and he was "something" special. He was a terrific mechanic, and he enjoyed working for Ferrari for a short, but meaningful period, before retiring.

We shared many passions, included the Formula 1 and Michael Schumacher: he used to call me when Michael was testing his car, so that I could listen to the roaring motor of his "red." We shared a passion for gelato, for politic, and for the beach where we used to go almost all year long (him, more than I did). He was a very passionate reader of my articles and, once in a while, he used to call my dad, his brother, to read one of those pieces on the phone, knowing that he can only read my articles on paper. He was a special soul. The pain I feel, still doesn't let me understand how badly I will miss him.

When he passed away, because the fatigue and the exhaustion that had piled on my soul, in the coldest and most raining summer I can recall, my only wish was to lay on my couch and sleep. Or cry. That I did, during every free minute I had. And during every, long sleepless hour I had to face. But I also had to work -- because that is the only way we all pay our bills, and so I did, even finding sometimes some consolation in that. But it was hard. Damn hard. So when I heard about Robin Williams' suicide I was really devastated.

As millions of other, I adored him. And I couldn't accept the idea that he was gone. Come on, I was already dealing with another huge loss. And when I read about the way he had taken his own life, I felt a great tenderness towards him, and I wished I'd had a chance to hug him. Hug someone tight, until when his/her pain is gone. Far. Forever. But we don't have this kind of power.

There was a time when I was very unhappy, and life has started to be more a pain than a joy for me. A feeling that scared me. I grew up in a family where depression is a "fact," and we have to deal with it. My dad suffers from depression, and so my brother and I lived the reality of many good, joyful, serene periods and some sad, difficult, harsh ones.

When I lost my smile and interest in life, I decided, knowing my family's history, to look for help and start psychotherapy. That was one of those experiences that really changed my life: one of the most difficult but fundamental challenges I accepted to become a better person. My therapist did such a great job with me that I found enough strength inside to take a leap and come to New York to be a journalist.

When I was in Italy last July, after eight years, I called her for an emergency meeting that she was enough nice to set up for me. I knew I was going to fall apart and I was scared. Scared of that depression that is always like a shadow over my life. As usual, my therapist was able to shake things up and that meeting is helping me to go through this hard time. But also it gave me enough energy, one day, to put a song that my dad loves and dance with him, while my nephew Cristian was filming us. While dancing, I stopped to be scared, and I felt happy because with that little gesture, I made my dad smile. I brought him back to life with me, for a little while. And when I feel the pain that his depression is going to win, and he is far away, in his own world where things are so scary, I watch again this short movie and I know that every time I can, I'll make him dance with me. Because that is not going to "save" him, I know, but it is going to add lovely memories to our lives.

A few days ago, I was walking in Riverside Park, when I saw a hawk, floating in the air, almost touching the grass before to fly back up in the sky. Maybe because I am determined to feel my uncle's presence around, but I thought that there was something symbolic in that. Imagine: going down in a way that can be scary before rising up again, just before touching the ground reminded me that beautiful thing we call life. And I smiled.