How can the comic who inspired me with hope commit suicide?
If you are reading this and feel depressed, I recommend reaching out to a psychotherapist and/or psychiatrist for treatment. A good place to start is using the search on the Psychology Today website. If you have insurance, you can also look through your provider directory. If it is an emergency and you feel like hurting yourself, please call 911 right now! Safety First!
The death of Robin Williams saddened me. Ironically, I remember when I was a depressed teenager watching Dead Poets Society (spoiler alert! The suicide scene did not sit well with me).
Growing up, Robin Williams was my “hope and change.” He inspired me to say “yes we can”… Unfortunately “no he couldn’t.”
Part of me feels it’s too soon to write about all this. I need to process and to heal. At the same time, I know there is a limited window of opportunity to share with people the importance of supporting and helping the depressed (Perhaps this will be Part One of a series with more to come).
I think comedians experience depression more than the average population because their minds constantly see things that most people just occasionally think about. On top of that, many comedians are intelligent and sensitive. I don’t mean sensitive in a negative way. Only that they feel emotions strongly.
I believe there is hope though for the depressed comic. Today, many treatment options exist from psychotherapy to medication. I don’t want to sound like a Pollyanna (these options are not perfect) but they can help. My most important advice is to never give up hope even if it feels like the end of the world as you curl up in a ball soaking your bed with tears. Happiness will exist again, regardless of what your brain tells you.
Depression is indeed an illness. Many people experience sadness or feeling down in the dumps, but depression is pervasive. Every inch of your body aches with pain. Going through your day feels like swimming with no arms or legs through a soupy swamp of alligators while towing a big rig on your back.
People experiencing the illness of depression are literally not in their right mind.
Recommendations for the Depressed:
1. Find a mutual friend (or friends) that suffer from depression to prevent the feeling of isolation. The reason is it is often very difficult for a non-depressed person to understand depression fully (although many make a valiant effort). Depression scares people. Is it catchy? Like death, people run away from it.
2. If you are depressed, one of the best things you can do is join a depression support group. You can find resources through NAMI (The National Alliance on Mental Illness) and through your local hospital behavioral health unit. It is important to realize that you are not alone and there are others suffering in similar ways. It can feel healing to share with others without having to put on a façade that often seems necessary in the non-depressed world.
You might be reading this and be the loved one of a depressed soul. You might feel powerless unaware of what to do to help. Let me give you some quick advice (I know, you didn’t ask).
Recommendations for the Non-Depressed:
1. The most important thing you can do is to listen and allow the depressed person to share their thoughts and feelings. You do not need to give advice or try to solve their problems. In fact, that could end up being counterproductive.
2. I also suggest not taking to heart the depressed person’s expression of anger (I don’t mean if they are physically hitting you or consistently engaging in emotional abuse. If that is the case, you must focus on protecting yourself).
3. Finally, I recommend treating yourself well by talking with caring friends, finding a psychotherapist, or joining a support group.
I hope this has been helpful. If you feel depressed, please take care of yourself and know that you are a worthwhile human being who is loved. Hope is real. Hold onto it, it is the key to your happiness.