I’ve written about depression before, but in light of Robin Williams’ recent death, the beloved actor who touched the lives of millions through laughter and tears, I wanted to revisit the subject and share my perspective from the lens of someone looking outside in.
Some people have probably thought: Robin Williams was loved by millions upon millions of people, how could he have felt so alone and distraught to the point where the only logical way out would be to end it completely?
Depression is an oftentimes slow and progressive silent killer. I touched the beginnings of depression in high school and in the earlier part of college. I even decided to see a therapist in college to help me wade through the thousands of painful thoughts I struggled through. That was my saving grace. I decided it was time to get help. As many of my readers know, I hate the hospital and so I was never clinically diagnosed, but I was deeply sad for awhile and struggled immensely with insecurity. I clearly remember shutting many people out of my life during that time, including my mother. I instead cried at night, lost interest in activities and fully immersed myself in school. Studying, weirdly, helped me cope. Eventually, and I’m not sure how, I emerged from the depths of the darkness. I gained more self-confidence and began to accept myself for who I was; imperfections and all.
I’ve also been on the other side. I watched a few family members struggle through depression and quite severe anxiety. The feeling can best be described as helplessness. The people I loved refused to get help on their own and so it turned into contemplation of involuntary commitment and constant worry. Sure, my feelings pale in comparison to those suffering from depression and severe anxiety, but when you love someone so much, it’s almost as if you’re mourning along with them. At least that’s how I felt. In many states, particularly Florida, which is governed by the Baker Act, it can be very hard to involuntarily commit an adult to a mental institution if he or she does not fit into specific criteria and red tape laid out by the Act. And especially if there is a loving family there to aid the individual. The strain on families can be great.
For me, it was hard to watch my mother cope with the depression and anxiety of those she held so dear. I knew she felt helpless too, and did everything she knew how to do. I remember she would drive an hour or so randomly to one loved one’s home to check in on his well-being when he refused to return countless phone calls. At a certain point, there is only so much a family can do. I fully sympathize. My mom is incredible, and I will forever admire her for everything she’s done for our family. Sacrifices and all.
In the end, depression is a debilitating illness. Yes, there is still stigma, but depression itself is an unrelenting black hole. Once one falls too far, the recovery process can feel completely out of reach regardless of how one feels about seeking help. And sometimes, depression lies dormant and hidden for too long.
My heart and prayers go out to the Williams’ family, as well as the families and individuals who continue to battle depression.
“Be kind [to everyone]. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”