I cannot express how shocked I was when I heard of Robin Williams death. In the wake of his death, tons of GIFs, tweets, and statuses have addressed depression. It has not been definitely determined, but the rumor going around is that he committed suicide while battling with depression. The thought is almost unfathomable. Robin Williams was beyond successful, loved, and admired by many. Who could ask for more? How could he still be unhappy?
This is the place where we enter the world of depression. Believe it or not, it’s a whole world. An inaccurate, irritating, misunderstood world. First, I want to state not all depression is the same. Some people may have the mental illness of depression whereas others are depressed due to circumstance and reason. Both instances are greatly misunderstood, and I want to say I don’t know it all either. I heard of the first, and experienced some of the latter.
Well said Robin Williams.
My problem was with people thinking I had some sort of mental illness. No. I don’t. I’m a healthy person with issues I have to work out as my depression was caused by my past, present situation, and lack of ability to create a new future for myself. I have reasons for my sadness; it’s not inexplicable. This is why I don’t like to tell anyone. I don’t want to be lumped into a group I don’t belong in. I’m misunderstood enough.
From what I understand, there are people who are depressed, and it is a mental illness. Maybe they don’t know why, maybe nothing can solve it, maybe they don’t know what to work on. I wish I understood it better. I have no deep knowledge of how this mental illness works. These people may not talk about it because it is defined as a mental illness. I wonder if this is good or bad? Does there need to be further differentiation considering that psychopaths, pedophiles, and sociopaths are defined as mentally ill? Or is there another reason they are keeping quiet?
The articles/tweets/GIFs I read online are putting Robin Williams in this mental illness category. There has been an outpouring of support for him and his family. It’s amazing to see how many people have been affected by his death. I’m also saddened by this outpouring because I know it will pass. As all outpourings do. Has this knowledge changed anyone’s life? Are people thinking differently? Or this another flash in the pan sympathy rise? He died on Monday; it’s Thursday and he’s already at the bottom, if not off, the trending list on Twitter. Of course, it’s implausible to think he’d be on there forever. Yet, is four days enough to learn, experience, and grow?
I may not know about the mental illness and depression, but I do know about the sort of depression a less than stellar life can cause. It’s boring. Sure, there are good days. However, friends won’t always notice. I start off feeling great, we get to talking, then all of sudden I’m complaining, whining, sad. It comes over me when I get to talking because I end up talking about my unhappy life, feelings of failure, and lack of love. I can’t seem to escape it or escape the situation I am in. Of course, there’s the “change your mindset” advice. Wonderful yet useless advice. I have changed my mind and how I view things significantly, but it does not erase all the pain and anger. I cannot erase bad habits and ingrained reactions if I cannot find a way to move on with my life (or more accurately–just move).
It’s one of the reasons I stared the One Year Challenge. I live with family, and I believe I need distance from my family. I need time completely alone. The past pain is not going anywhere, the present problems still sting. Absolutely no problems have been resolved. However, I can’t just pick up and leave. I need money. I need a career. I’ve been struggling just to pay for my things while living here. I’m trapped. Both grateful for a place to be (better than homelessness), and scared (I could get kicked out, or never be able to find enough success to move on).
Regardless, I’m going to do my best and publish my work. I hope I have what it takes to be successful. That’s my solution: get out, grow on my own, develop new relationships. Step 1: Be successful. People say money isn’t everything. Well, it most of the thing because we need it to do almost anything.
I’m proud of my accomplishments, yet it’s not over and it was all hard. I’m less interesting and fun than I use to be (poor can be just as much of a buzz kill as depression, combined it’s a discouraging situation). Counselors and doctors are not always helpful. I hate medications for depression because they are a cop-out, and not necessary. A pill can’t change what I’ve been through. A pill can’t create a novel. I was happy a long time ago when I spent two weeks in Europe with a friend–no stress, new location, different sort of company. I won’t claim that I was the happiest person on Earth, but I got a lot done and I was happy.
Medication says to me “You’re not normal; you’re broken.” I resent it. Anyone who has been what I’ve gone through would be unhappy, scared, dissatisfied. It’s like when victims of a horrible crime (even as horrible as genocide with dead friends, propaganda and lies) are diagnosed with having “trust issues.” OBVIOUSLY, but I don’t think it’s because they have a “mental illness.” They’re human, and are coping as humans cope. Since when is it wrong not to be happy, perfect, energetic and productive all of the time? Is it so terrible to have to heal?
We live in a world where it is not okay. Where a pill is required to “fix it.” I’m acting in a way I feel is perfectly reasonable and being told I have a “problem.” I’m not okay with this. I actually have thought of not posting this because what will future business partners or employers think? How will I be judged? Am I, all of a sudden, less than? Worse, due to lack of knowledge of the breadth of depression, people don’t perceive me accurately either. Not to mention, this is embarrassing.
I graduated at the top of my class, I have changed myself in huge ways and continued my education online, and I have used my reading and movie watching to hone my craft. I learned about the publishing business and will learn more. I’m competent and, quite frankly and not so modestly, amazing (because I worked hard to be, not just because I exist).
Regardless of his depression, Robin Williams accomplished a lot during his lifetime. In a way, he’s an inspiration. He made it all the way to 63, and built a great career. It’s sad to know he’s gone, but it does not negate anything he has done. His work did not suffer, and he means something to many people worldwide.
I loved Aladdin and The Genie as a kid.
Maybe a pill would have helped Mr. Williams. I don’t know, nor would I ever make that call for someone else. What would feel like a cop-out to me, could feel like salvation to someone else. This is where the different type of depression comes into play. I would like to know more, but people tend to skip over details in this area. Therefore, I only know what others have told or described vaguely.
It might be difficult for people to differentiate because the symptoms are eerily similar from what I have heard.
What I want people to know is that depression is not like the flu. It lasts longer, has many shades, colors, scales, and contains multiple solutions. For instance, I never abused substances, nor have I participated in disgusting behavior (paraphrased from other depressed people describing their experiences). We are all different and should be judged for who we are and what we can do, not solely on what we have survived. We should be able to talk about ourselves publicly. I feel the employer market alongside judgmental friends and family are crushing this freedom. Secrets perpetuate problems. Not just depression either. Abuse, misery, loneliness all thrive due to the secretive nature of their existence.
What would our knowledge be like if we could all feel safe speaking about our problems? How much more could we know about the vastness of depression and human condition? One of the worst things about depression is how little is understood. I can confide in someone, but sometimes it feels more lonely when they don’t get it. It’s why I value knowledge and accuracy.
What would the world be like if we could be free to be ourselves regardless of what that is? What if anything negative wasn’t termed “airing dirty laundry” as if we are running around with poop stained briefs on our heads claiming aliens did it, or worse–that we’re bad people? I’m not saying we should all love everything about everyone. People are diverse. All I want is tolerance, for people to be able to judge on skill when hiring, and everyone to have the right to be who they are without extreme backlash (firing, derogatory tweets, bullying, insults, etc.). This includes the freedom to write negative tweets. People rain down hell on others who disagree with them, and claim certain opinions are “wrong.” It doesn’t matter what side of any issue you’re on, why can’t everyone be free to have an opinion including unpopular ones?
I recall a lynch mob attacking someone for having an unpopular opinion (a man saying being gay was unnatural in this instance) claiming the first amendment didn’t protect from backlash. Well, they were right. I ask you, how did being right help their cause? How did it spread peace? I learned that no one is safe. That even people claiming righteousness encourage lack of freedom to speak. Without this freedom and lack of safety, how can any of us speak out?
I don’t want my depression to be politically correct; I just want to be able to talk about it.
That sort of world sounds wonderful. And much healthier.
Lastly, I want to briefly address suicide. I’ve been hearing my whole life how “selfish” it is. Wrong. People say “I have no responsibility to make someone else happy.” This is true, but along with this comes the notion that people can’t demand others live when that person feels they cannot go on any more. Suicide may be sad, but platitudes won’t fix it. I get annoyed with those stories stating, “What if I called at the right moment?” Or worse, the stories where someone did and saved someone else. Taking a life is hard. It takes a lot of guts and hopelessness to make it happen. I’m not suicidal; I think my life is worth all my current troubles. I want to try really hard to be a writer and make a new future for myself. However, I won’t judge anyone with a differing opinion. How would that help? It’s not what I would want if the roles were reversed.
And FYI, not everyone has “loved ones.” Being deeply loved and receiving love is not easy. It is a scary and lonely world.
A lonely place with a beloved bear who would never judge.
Update: Robin’s wife also stated that he was in the early stages Parkinson’s, which adds another layer to the story.
*I do not own these pictures. Credit belongs to the Flikr artists, and links have been provided to their work. The captions were created by myself, not the artists.