First post in over a year. Well that’s a fail… It has been quite a year to be honest.
I realise I start off in the title with a casual Joker reference which has a tendency to amuse people but the point is The Joker actually sums up what I want to talk about quite nicely (Forgetting, for a moment, all the homicidal, deranged chaos he creates) because this isn’t going to be a fun post-
No, please don’t leave, I didn’t mean boring. It’s just that I would like to cover a topic that, I have come to realise, affects a great many people despite how they may feel alone.
There is a reason why I have been absent for the longest time. I don’t write this for me, though, I write it for those people who I know have felt the same as I did.
Depression, Anxiety, Bi-Polar or anything of the like; They are not something that can be dismissed. They are not the made up conditions for miserable people and crybabies. They are very real conditions that a large majority of people struggle with everyday. Conditions that a lot of people cannot, and often don’t want to, understand. Even those afflicted often decide it’s nothing, convince themselves to try and push on, that they are stupid for being sad or worried all the time.
Depression is often called the ‘Invisible Disease’ and I find this quite apt. Most of the people with it you wouldn’t think there was anything wrong and often that’s because they’re trying to fool themselves into thinking nothing is wrong or hiding it away from the outside world from fear of ridicule but this only makes it worse.
But it is far from nothing. Study after study have confirmed that depressives show wildly different brain activity from non-depressives. I’m no doctor but I know it can arise from too much or little of this or that chemical in the brain, including Serotonin (a mood regulator.) It can be caused by many other factors, though, traumatic events from your past, a pre-disposition to mood changes, even genetics, it could be almost anything. One thing it is not, though, is imaginary. Issues like this are very real mental health conditions and should be treated as such. If you suspect a friend or family member may have depression don’t just tell them to ‘cheer up.’ Simply be there for them. Oftentimes you don’t actually need to try and actively comfort them, just let them know you are there to talk or be a shoulder to cry on if they need it. Above all, never loose your patience with them, not matter how long it goes on. They have just as much control over it as you do: None.
I have the utmost respect for anyone who can admit that they struggle with depression. I feel a relevant example would be the late, great Robin Williams, may he rest in peace. A comic, a wacky personality but a tortured soul. A fun loving comedian, you might think, how could this happen? The truth is a great deal of comedians struggle with this kind of thing. Need I say any more than simple Stephen Fry? For years Williams grappled with his own demons, even turning to drugs to try and stem his uncontrollable misery. A misery that had no reason but yet existed regardless. To the pain of the world over he eventually took his own life earlier this month. The final, ultimate action of a man desperate for peace with himself.
And yet he was branded a ‘coward’ by some, for leaving his family, for allowing them to find him in such a way.
“(…)something inside you is so horrible or you’re such a coward or whatever the reason that you decide that you have to end it.” These were the words that US News Anchor Shepard Smith had to apologise for after Williams’ death. I feel this is one of the the most appropriate examples of how people who have not experienced depression cannot understand the mindset of someone in such a condition. I acknowledge that it was terrible for his family, especially in the method he did it but I feel people fail to empathise with what he was feeling. His family brought him great joy, they were the light of his life, so it must have been that much worse to be convinced that they did not feel the same. I know his family did love him very much but in that state of depression the world can become a dark and twisted place where you feel everyone around you, even your closest loved ones despise you, where no-one would care if you died. A place where everything feels like it imprisons you, torments you and you are constantly surrounded by a dark cloud you cannot shake.
Robin Williams was not a coward. In fact I would call him brave. Brave for facing so many years with that ‘invisible disease,’ smiling and joking to the world even though this thing is eating you inside. Ultimately, though, in a ‘fit of depression’ and desperation he ended it.
So this has been a somewhat long and solemn piece but if even one person reads it and understands all of this a little better then it would have all been worth it.
Before I go, here’s something my partner found that helped her to understand things a little better. Personally, I think it’s amazing and couldn’t hit the point better.
P.S. If there was no other reason for him being so Robin Williams is a legend simply for naming his daughter Zelda.