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Archive for August, 2014

Robin Williams, Depression, and Netflix

I’ve read a lot of articles about Robin Williams and each one touches me in a different way.

One of the first things I read in several articles is how surprising it is that someone so seemingly well off and with such talent could allegedly take his own life and beyond that feel like taking his own life was the only thing left to do.

Though incredibly saddened by this news, it really doesn’t surprise me at all but that is because I identify with depression.

I have dealt with anxiety and depression for some of my adult life and lived through my deepest bout of depression last year.

Being a depressed person is like being the ocean. An onlooker can look out some days and see calm waters with a beautiful and glass like appearance where everything on the surface functions as it should (of course with a crashing wave here or there), but below is a slew of different things. Many things of beauty and purpose are right under the surface but the further you travel the more there is undiscovered and you reach the deep, dark places unexplored.

Sometimes the vast dark places find themselves being revealed here and there by an outside explorer intentionally or accidentally stumbling on these places but for the most part, the darkness is the oceans alone.

I am not depressed today so it is easier for me to think about it objectively, but living in the moment of depression – it seems at times like you can’t take ownership over anything, sometimes not even the choice to stay alive.

I saw a few comments here and there about suicide being selfish and then a few more rebuttals to that about how depressed people seemingly don’t have a choice.

I don’t want to argue those things because I feel there is some strong truth in both of them, I don’t know how to reconcile one persons thoughts versus another but I am actually glad these conversations are being had because there is little public talk about depression.

I’ve recently been binge watching Parenthood on Netflix (don’t spoil anything for me!!!!! Only in season 2!) and I’ve been taken with the story line of Kristina Braverman and how she handles her son Max’s Aspberger’s Syndrome. I find a lot of myself in Kristina in the way she views herself as a mother and a wife, her ability to love so strong but stretch so thin sometimes – finding a balance (or at least trying to) between being all there all the time and retreating to keep herself healthy in mind and body. So, I really pay close attention to their story line. In thinking about Max’s Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) I have thought about how similar in some ways depression is to AS because its symptoms aren’t as physically apparent as another illness or disorder…say, Cancer or Spina Bifida. Though as I’ve been thinking about these things, I can’t picture a mainstream sitcom having a main character with depression and exploring it in the same way that Max’s AS is explored. Of course depression has been touched on in television and movies, but I have never seen it explored the same way other cognitive disorders are being explored. Max’s parents seek counsel from a doctor, have the public support of family and friends, have personal support groups they visit, various other treatment options including behavior therapy. I’ve never considered the phrase high-functioning depressed person but if that were a thing I feel like I, myself, and various others I know with depression may fall in to that category, but just as there is an Autism Spectrum, there is a depression spectrum and not everyone who deals with depression has found freedom enough to choose life and live it despite depression showing itself from time to time- it just isn’t mainstream to talk about it yet and I hope that will change. Most of the references on television or movies that explore depression start and end at seeing a therapist and sitting on a cliche couch and talking about your feelings. While that may be one of many, many resources for a person who is depressed, it really boxes in depressed people and so it gives us the illusion that depression has a ‘type’ of person it seeks. There are so many more resources for mentally ill but mental illness is highly stigmatized so that is why we read things like “wow, I am so surprised by Robin Williams.” Because we categorize seemingly well off people as outside of the grasp of something like depression, because depression is just for sad people or poor people or people with troubled lives or people with heavy life stress.

We think depression won’t find an incredibly famous comedian. But it did.

We think depression won’t find a by-choice stay at home mom, with a loving husband, beautiful children, and supportive family. But it did.

Depression knows no ‘type’, just as cancer knows know ‘type’.

But just as you can treat cancer and maybe, with some hope, find yourself in remission… you can treat depression and, with some hope, maybe find yourself in remission.

So, let’s start talking about depression.

I started talking about it last December, you can read about it here:  https://takeiterleaveit.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/depression-and-deliverance/

I hope if you deal with depression you may feel inclined to start talking about it now, too.

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