By now, everyone has learned of the death of Robin Williams. His death has touched a lot of nerves, some positive and some negative. I, myself, was angry over the fact that he took his own life. How could someone who had more than the normal, every day person, just throw in the towel and say, “I can’t take it anymore?” Then, I started listening to stories, reading posts and seeing it first hand how depression is so misunderstood by the un-depressed society.
You see, I know all about depression. I’ve been surrounded by it all my life, I’m surrounded by it now and I go through bouts of it myself. Growing up in New Orleans, I have seen people mask their depression through drugs, alcohol and yes, as I did, through humor. People see this happy go-lucky guy who is always making people laugh, putting himself out there in social situations and being the life of the party. Never in a million years did anyone believe this short, fat funny guy suffers with depression.
If depression caused you to have a scar or a wound, it may be easier to understand. Or better yet, have them wear a mask. Well, most people who suffer from depression wear a mask every day, but no one else sees it. It’s the face they want you to see. It’s the face they need to put on in order to face the world each and every day. At times, depending upon the situation, the mask will come off. Other times, the mask stays on because it can’t be removed. That’s when some people start thinking dark thoughts.
If you know someone who is suffering from depression, reach out to them, but realize, you can’t fix them. The best thing you can do is “be there” for them. If they need or want to talk, let them. Don’t insert your thoughts or advice, “just listen.” If they want to just sit in silence with you, “let them.” Don’t continually ask them, “what’s wrong?” “Are you OK.” If they need to cry, “hold them,” give them comfort and let them release. If it goes beyond that, you may want to suggest that they seek professional help.
Yes, Robin Williams is dead. He took his life because he may have felt that he could not go any further. Although misunderstood and questioned by society and the talking heads on TV, his death has opened the door and started conversations about depression. Maybe, just maybe, his darkness may shed some light on someone who is battling this disease called Depression.