My Own Experience With Depression, Reaction To Robin Williams [VIDEO]
Genie, you’re free. pic.twitter.com/WjA9QuuldD
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) August 12, 2014
I’m not unique in saying I was really quite taken aback by the news of Robin Williams’ suicide. Losing him was like losing an old pal. I loved his entire body of work, the comedy and the tragedy.
I’m also not unique in the sense that I have battled depression for the better part of 20 years. I don’t wear it like a badge, I’m not thrilled with it, and I don’t let it define me. But it IS a simple fact in my life. In the U.S. alone, 1 in 10 report depression. And I suspect the number would be higher if the stigma didn’t exist.
Years ago, I was talking to a friend about it, and how I sometimes felt ashamed…and how some people didn’t even believe me, as I’ve got a hearty sense of humor and a generally happy, outward disposition.
She told me it was silly to be ashamed…she said “If you were diagnosed, medically, with diabetes…would you be ashamed to tell people you take insulin? It’s no different.”
It changed my entire perspective on being honest with anyone who asked.
The truth is, depression is many things, but it is NOT a “choice”, it is not just “feeling down”, it is not “being sad”. It is so, so much more. While I still have my troubles, I’m grateful I’ve chosen to acknowledge it, to treat it, and to do what I can to live with it. It is real.
Sadly, suicide is often an end to some people’s incredible battle with the condition, like it was for Mr. Williams. And it offends me to my core when I hear people like Shepard Smith calling him a “coward”. My long-time friend said Williams was “selfish”. The truth is, you can never know what lies beneath. Judge not, lest ye be judged.
I kept hearing people say they just couldn’t believe the Robin Williams news “because he was so funny”. What’s difficult to explain — to even understand — is that those of us who do have an outward need to entertain, to make people laugh, and to have fun…are usually the ones who suffer the most internally. Like the Imagine Dragons song says, “it’s where my demons hide”.
No one — NO ONE — will ever know what demons were hiding inside Mr. Williams. Reports say he didn’t leave a note. To me, what we need to focus on is what he DID leave behind — an incredible body of work, charity, and laughter that brought joy to millions.
I found his video yesterday, and went as far as to email the man who made it. I’ve never summed up my OWN sentiments on depression as well as he did. So, for those who want to understand a little more, watch this.