Tuesday 12 August 2014


There has been a discussion of late over mental illness in our country (some might call it a discussion, I'm not that optimistic) due to the - nonsensical and tragic - gun violence that continues to plague our country, and in my opinion, it is a dialogue that has been a long time coming. Unfortunately, as all things in society, the dialogue stops short of addressing all sides of the issue, in that mental illness comes in all forms, the overt and the very silent and insidious. With the all too recent and tragic passing of Robin Williams, I’m hoping that the illness of depression finally gets it fair due (I hate when tragic things have to happen to shed light on things, but hence, it’s sadly the way of the world).

Over the years, I have known many people who have suffered from depression (lifelong and bouts of it), myself included and it is one of those things that until you experience it, you truly have no idea of the blanket over your life it can cast. There is no instant happy pill (although many drug companies will argue with me on this fact) and it crosses all economic and social lines. Depression doesn’t care how much money you have or how fortunate your life is, if you’re prone to depression, no money in the world is going to alleviate the chemical stain it can leave upon your psyche. And there is truly nothing worse than people ready to judge and throw out the tactless comment of ‘What do you have to be so depressed about? You have everything.’ If only it were that simple.

In the case of Robin Williams, I’m sure many around the world are simultaneously mourning his passing whilst scratching their heads. Why oh why would a man with so much in his life, kill himself? The answer is simple: depression can simply be too overwhelming for some to handle. Now before you come down upon me waving your emphatic arguments to the contrary (which I welcome of course), I’m not saying that depression can’t be treated, or alleviated, or even that one cannot grow out of phases of depression, as depression can often be linked to hormonal and chemical imbalances (exacerbated by lifestyle of course). But for some, like any addiction, the pull of it is simply is too great and there is a broad spectrum of sufferers and with a varying degree of how deep their affliction reaches. For some, this abyss is simply too deep. This is tantamount for people to understand. Depression, like any illness is not a one size fits all disease. 

What I hope and pray from tragedies such as this is that it gets us talking, really talking, and moreover it gets those under the vice of illnesses such as this to reach out and ask for help. Mental illness should not be a taboo; It should not be run from or feared. It should be discussed and explored and treated like anything else. It's that simple (or should be).

So in honor of Robin, 'my captain, oh captain,' I hope more people step forward and put a voice to depression. It’s long overdue.

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