Based on the hodgepodge of public reactions to the recent passing of manic comedic-genius Robin Williams, it’s apparent at least to me that somewhere around the ball park of most of the population does not entirely understand the nature of depression.
This makes perfect sense, as it’s unlikely for a person to possess this bundle of wisdom if they’re not an expert in the field of psychology or haven’t been personally effected by it to some degree.
I make the above statement confidently, as I’ve wrestled the dark depressive demon my entire life — early childhood included. And no, there were no precipitating factors or events that contributed to it’s onset. Sometimes people are just born hard-wired a certain way. Genetics are funny like that. So, yes it’s relatively easy for me to weed through the hoards of comments and cite misconceptions.
Which, by the way is not at all intended to sound boastful – that particular tidbit of innate knowledge comes at a very high price.
This post is predominantly for clarification.
The generous gift that Robin Williams death bestows upon us is an attentive audience with a desperate thirst for answers.
Not only are we talking about depression, we’re opening up to new information and for many of us, it’s become personal… it now has a face.
One thing is evident – Not everyone can or will be sparred, as depression knows no barriers and cannot necessarily be controlled.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not always the presence of external factors such as access to medication, therapy and/or a strong support system that inadvertently makes or breaks a person.
Meaning, for some people the sheer magnitude of this disabling disease is enough in itself to send it’s victims spiraling into the desolate dark caverns of despair to the point of no return.
If you’ve lost someone to depression it is absolutely not your fault.
Depression can be like a tornado that takes absolutely everything in it’s path, despite our most vigilant efforts to contain it, and can abruptly bubble to the surface without a moments warning.
I’m well aware that I’m thinking outside-the-box in relation to the mainstream train of thought when I speculate that traditional interventions like meds, family support and therapy are not always enough.
Unfortunately, for many people, even the most modern and innovative treatment available today is still not enough to dissolve or even lessen their suffering.
And no, I’m absolutely not discouraging people from reaching out or encouraging others to do the same, I’m simply stating the fact that it’s not always enough.
At this particular moment in time, the severe depressive disease state is far from curable.
Houston, we have a ginormous problem.
The intrinsic problem with depression is that it can pack a punch so crippling that it renders it’s victims completely dysfunctional and unable to perform necessary tasks in their daily lives.
It can shut you down.
Much like a deer caught in headlights.
Meaning, one can become so completely disabled that they are unable to initiate that vital conversation or merely pick up the phone and ask for help.
It’s a vicious unrelenting cycle of absolute dread.
An extremely heavy burden for any person to carry for an extended length of time.
People who suffer from depression are survivors. Every single day can feel like the equivalent of scaling Mt. Everest, because to them… it is.
Life can be an ongoing battle.
It’s also no surprise then to comprehend that many depressed and/or mentally ill people are noncompliant. They habitually skip medical appointments, therapy sessions and allow their medications run out, because they’ve reached their saturation point; the point of complete debilitation.
Oftentimes, they’re in turn released by their mental health providers – their only lifeline – for the same infractions.
It’s the ironic nature of the beast.
Again, a vicious unrelenting cycle repeats itself
We as a society need to do so much more in terms of funding, research and rallying public support to get this ball-of-discovery rolling.
In the big scheme of things, our society has yet to make mental health a priority.
We’ve only begun to examine the tip this colossal iceberg.
Together, people can make a difference.
Increased media attention and public awareness can be potential game changers.
Rewind a decade or two when we knew very little about conditions like AIDS, Breast Cancer, Autism and ADHD in relation to what we know today.
It is high time the public put depression in the spotlight.
Robin Williams was an extremely intelligent man. He knew the nature of the beast and undoubtedly carefully weighed his every option. To speculate that he could have been saved by simply reaching out is an absolute insult to his genius.
Depression is just not that simple.
FAST FACTS and common MISCONCEPTIONS-
Depression is not a transient mood, reaction or a simple state of mind.
Sadness is the reaction to an event, depression is an entirely different animal.
**Depression has a chemical-neurological basis and is therefore a true medical illness or disease. **
A positive attitude will not necessarily cure depression. It’s an integral component to therapy, but certainly not a sure-fire fix for everyone.
**A person with diabetes does not have the mental resources to control or change their blood sugar levels any more than a depressed person can alter their gut-wrenching mindset through positive thinking. That particular mentality is ignorant.
Depression is a spectrum disorder, meaning it effects people to varying degrees. It is not necessarily the same or even similar for any two people. Some may only be slightly effected thus helped by simple treatment modalities, (therapy or meds alone) while others may require diligent daily medication management and inpatient therapy… and may still not be capable of lifting their head above water.
Depression is not mental weakness or a flaw in character.
Historically speaking, many or most of the worlds most well known creative geniuses – artists, authors, musicians etc suffered from depression or mental illness. These outstanding people did not march to the beat of societies common drummer simply because they were different.
The extra creative spark of genius may come at a very high price.
Depression is fifty-bazillion shade of grey… maybe more.
Please respect that.
***Disclaimer- the above was written in an honest attempt to promote inquisitive thinking and raise awareness — to foster understanding and bring light to a serious illness. To lift the weight of blame for those who’ve lost a loved one to this horrid disease. It’s my personal open, honest account… dotted with a few indisputable facts in my personal hue of cloudy grey. ***
Thank you for reading.
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