Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Depression - The Way I See It

It was a short text. Robin Williams died. Like everyone hearing the news for the first time, I was shocked. It wasn’t until hours later that I felt the profound sadness. The ache of losing someone. It was puzzling. I mean, he was an entertainer, an actor. Not someone I knew personally. And yet, I felt as if I knew him. I’m struggling with words, unsure how to describe why I felt this closeness to a television and screen personality.

The eyes are a window to the soul. How clich├ęd can I get? But to me, Robin Williams communicated with his eyes. They were filled with compassion …and pain. Understanding. Empathy. I don’t care what role he played, his eyes were the most discerning feature. They spoke volumes.

I am sad for his family and his fans and the entertainment industry, but my heart wrenching sorrow is for the man himself. It is often said that suicide is a coward’s way out. I don’t believe that. I believe it takes incredible strength and courage to end a life…especially your own. The pain and suffering must be excruciating. To be ill with depression while in the public spotlight must impose tremendous anguish. A never ending struggle.

I’ve also heard that it’s a selfish act. Again, I must disagree. The person who ends his own life is probably thinking they are doing everyone a favour by getting out of the picture. The world would be better off without them.

I don’t pretend to be an expert. I usually research before I write, but today I’m just writing from my heart. I’m spouting my views, the way I imagine it might be.

People – may I say creative people especially – have tremendous highs and lows. An actor immerses himself in so many different roles and if he’s a good actor – and Robin Williams was the best – he becomes the person he portrays. Even if the character is wholesome and good, it’s a brain drain for the actor. It’s all consuming. Combine that with the struggle to cope with the disease Depression and it must be overwhelming. Frightening. Terrifying. Painful.

I know how sadness and hopelessness and helplessness feels. And then there’s clinical depression. I can only imagine how that must feel.

And so perhaps the sadness and grief that grips my heart is for all the people incapacitated by depression.

If you suffer from depression and have not sought help, please do. Your life depends on it.


July 21,1951 – August 11, 2014
Rest In Peace


  1. I don't agree that it takes incredible strength and courage to end one's own life. I believe it takes incredible despair.

    I am saddened for the loss Robin William's death means to his family and friends.

    I am also annoyed with all of the TV hosts and actors reminiscing about when they met him and how entertaining and energetic Robin Williams was. It's all about them, and what he (Robin Williams) did for them. Robin Williams was for the most part about other people. Bringing a smile and laughter. But for all of those 'Hollywood' folks, who he added so much to their lives, where were they to support him in his?

    I am not saying that close friends and family didn't do what they could. But so many trying to place themselves as being a part of Robin Williams' legacy by recounting their joyous encounters.

    I think the remark on Robin Williams' death that reverberates the loudest, at least with my, are those from his long-time friend, Billy Crystal: "No words."

    His loss is the one that I feel for, just like for Robin Williams' family. He's not retroactively trying to be a part of Robin Williams' life, not in any small or large or even superficial way. He was a part of his friend's life.

    Depression is a horrible thing that is difficult to understand, not only by those who are afflicted with it, but also, even more so by those that are not. It is what can lead to such despair. Can lead to death, a lonely death that leaves grief and sadness in its wake.

    1. Well said, Terry. Thank you for sharing your opinion. Intimate friends like Billy Crystal, and loved ones, would tend to be speechless - grief stricken. I'm not sure that the others were 'trying to place themselves as being a part of Robin Williams' legacy by recounting their joyous encounters'. It's natural for some to immediately remember good times shared with someone who has a sudden death. It's a way of dealing with the shock, perhaps. I could be misinterpreting this as I have not listened to the 'Hollywood' folks. When one loses an acquaintance, the mind automatically shifts to the memories associated with this person. I hope that is all it is. As you stated, depression is a horrible thing.

  2. Phyllis, thanks for sharing this reflection from the heart.
    Help is out there. Although it is hard to reach out, as you pointed out, one's life does "depend on it"!

    1. This tragedy could possibly enable someone to come forward and seek the help needed to survive. Thanks for your comment Patricia.

  3. In many (if not most) situations it indeed takes incredible strength to end one’s life. While some may be in a situation of despair, not all are. Some have the courage to take those steps, often not having enough strength to fulfill the act. Many individuals who are close to someone who has committed suicide use the “it was a selfish act” line as a way to put the blame on the individual, often deflecting any responsibility from themselves who perhaps didn’t do enough to support or even understand that person and what they were facing. Easier to blame the victim rather than looking internally to see what perhaps could have been done differently to support that person. Then of course there are the truly ignorant people who cling on to the “selfish act” routine, as they are truly ignorant as to what mental health issues are all about.

    The hosts and celebrities speaking about their time with Robin Williams do not annoy me. In fact, I’m comforted by it. People who perhaps met him in passing, just for a brief moment, taking the time to express condolences to family. Robin’s daughter tweeted that she takes comfort in the outpouring of support and tributes by the millions who never even met her father. Their comments also bring to light to the issue of mental illness which is far too often swept under the carpet or considered taboo to discuss. Meryl Streep was bang on, in my opinion, with her words. She stated that while she had never worked with Robin Williams she went on to say “it’s hard to imagine unstoppable energy stopped. He was such a generous soul.” That wasn’t about Meryl — that was about Robin.

    Perhaps it’s too soon for Billy Crystal to speak out but I hope he does and doesn’t leave things at “no words”. Far too often close friends and family take that approach….no words, silence, no comfort, no reassurances. He, Whoopi and others in his close circle deserve time to grieve and process this profound loss … but staying silent just ads to the problem this issue faces.

    Aunt Phyllis, thank you for writing from your heart. You too are a kind soul and I hope, in fact I know, your words will help others.

    1. It's hard for me to believe that anything I write or say could possibly help someone in pain. But wouldn't that be wonderful. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts.