Robin Williams vs. Depression

Right now the internet is lighting up with posts regarding the suicide of Robin Williams. Robin has always been one of my favourite actors - his unique style bringing smiles to many faces like a breath of fresh air. I have particular memories of him from Mrs Doubtfire and Good Morning Vietnam and as is apparent from all the posts being made today across social media just about everyone has a movie they hold dear to them that he featured in.

I just wanted to talk briefly today about the cause of this tragedy, depression. I want to talk about this because I am seeing a lot of posts by people confused as to why someone so successful and so funny could feel depressed and end up killing themselves. This highlights just how much more education is needed around mental health problems and I hope this post helps people get a little better understanding of what I believe to be one of the most debilitating human conditions out there at the moment.

I think it is important to start with what depression is not - it is not just feeling down or feeling sad. When things are not going your way and you feel down this is not depression. Clinical depression is a chemical imbalance causing emotions that more often than not do not have a social or external cause. This is what makes it difficult to combat as there is not an external factor you can pin it on - you can't just simply say 'oh I am depressed because of this or that'.

Robin Williams was successful and yet he still had clinical depression because his financial or popularity circumstances bear no relevance to the chemical imbalance he was suffering from. He was funny and was a very clearly an extrovert in some circumstances but in other circumstances outside of the public eye he suffered greatly with his condition.

This is the issue that needs to be raised with everyone - depression is like an invisible battle of the person who is suffering from it. It is not a defect in how a person thinks, they cannot just think different and feel better. Neither can they point the finger of blame at some factor of their life that is causing it unlike you can with a lot of the more obvious physical conditions.

Today should be a day that we take a long hard look at our friends and family, those who we know are suffering from depression. It is a silent condition that can go unnoticed but it takes little effort to check in and see how people are. Often times that small bit of contact can make a whole world of difference to a person. As we remember Robin lets not forget those with depression who are still here.

SocietyDaniel Yates