Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams is Dead

Robin Williams 1951-2014
I cried this morning when I learned about Robin Williams' death, as a part of my life went away.  No, I never met the man, and I typically don't consider myself a fanatic about actors.  But Robin was different.  He made me laugh, even on days when I didn't know how to laugh.  He brought tears to my eyes as well; the movie "What Dreams May Come" haunts me to this day.

From all accounts, Robin was a down-to-earth, friendly, happy man.  But if this truly is a suicide, those accounts refer to a facade, and not the real man.  The problem (probably) is everyone expected him to be happy, and so he acted happy.  Sadly, Robin Williams is not the only person to do that.  Someone in my area committed suicide earlier this year, with the vast majority of people none the wiser to her internal struggles until it was too late.  It's the same story heard over and over; someone becomes so depressed that he or she commits suicide, surprising everyone in their life.

We have this expectation that everyone needs to be happy; only teenagers dressed in black are allowed to be otherwise, and even then society rolls its collectives eyes.  We complain about politics and the weather, we moan about needing money, but the entire time we maintain a minimum level of happiness, at least in public.  But people don't accept a person who walks around depressed; we tell people to suck it up, put on their big boy pants, and just get over it.

Only you can't just "get over" depression; no one can.  Depression changes a person's brain chemistry, requiring real intervention to undo those changes.  That intervention can be therapy, support groups, and/or anti-depression medication.  But without outside help, a person succumbs to the depression cycle.  A little depression leads to a little changes in brain chemistry, which lead to more depression, which lead to more changes in brain chemistry,...

We need to remove societal stigmas about using anti-depressants, remove the stigma about classifying depression as an illness and not a mood swing, and allow people to openly admit their problems so that they can openly get help.

It's too late for Robin Williams.  It's too late for Amanda Todd and Traci Birmingham.  It's too late for the more than 30,000 people who commit suicide every year in the U.S.

I hope we make these changes, so it's never too late again.

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