Robin Williams won’t make a difference

The world certainly lost one of its brightest stars of comedy and an incredibly gifted actor as well.  Seldom have I seen so many people at work react to a death; not just talk about but feel it emotionally as well.  Robin Williams was amazing.  He was energy in motion, a psychological whirlwind of activity.  My favorite roles were Good Morning Vietnam, Birdcage, and Aladdin.  And the stand-up routine on golf (NSFW!)


He also suffered from depression.  And sadly, his death won’t make a difference in how we deal with depression or mental issues.

I’d like to believe it would make a difference.  But I don’t think it will.  It won’t because while now suddenly lots of people are talking about depression, very few of them understand the difference between being sad or depressed and suffering from depression.  And if we don’t understand the difference, we aren’t really going to be able to solve the issue.

Everyone has times where they are sad, or when a particular event hurts emotionally.  It’s part of life as a human being to have variations in the psychological flow. Lots of people who are now saying “yes, I’ve been sad, I’ve been down” are people who may have been temporarily depressed, but they are not suffering from depression.  They move out of the state of being sad or down with only a little help from others.  They find their world returning to relative normal without much help, either from people or prescriptions.  It’s tied to a specific event in many cases.  That said, being depressed is NOT fun. I’ve been there… too many times.


Depression is more debilitating than being depressed is, though.  True depression is much deeper, much more enveloping, than just being depressed. I’ve a friend who suffers from depression; I teeter on the edge at times. I’ve seen the loss of energy, the inability to get out of bed, the loss of interest in everything. I’ve learned that depression means trying to find an analogy to make to express the depths of the despair, the utter hopelessness of time.  It’s like being wrapped in wet blanket; like pushing against a lid that’s holding you down; like trying to breathe underwater.  It’s finding total darkness to be too light compared to what you feel. If you haven’t suffered from depression or watched someone who has, you can’t appreciate just how life-sucking it is.  There are some really good cartoons that start to convey the feeling.

Another reason we can’t deal with the mental health challenges is that it intersects too much with individuality.  Especially in America, our individuality is so important to us that we sacrifice much to maintain it.  We loathe having someone sit in judgment on us; we want to be our own person, without having to answer to another or to the government or to a higher authority.  Which means that when our internal mind is not working well, we can be reticent to surrender that control.  Worse, we may not realize the need to surrender it.  The fine line of balance is a difficult one to trace

Eighty years ago, people looked upon drunks as moral losers.  Two guys found help together from the scourge of drinking, and started a program.  Decades later, alcoholism isn’t viewed as it was.  People realize that there is a defect that the person can’t change on their own, and the stigma has started to be eased.  Twenty years ago AIDS moved out of the shadows and into peoples minds because of Pedro Zamora and MTV…and compassion and awareness increased because it.

We need to find a way to do that with mental health issues.

Na-nu Na-nu





2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Barb on August 18, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Amen! People will forget when the next news story comes along


  2. Wish I could disagree with you, floss, but I can’t. What you say is all too true.


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