And what do we know of depression?Very little.
Today we lost a man, a true genius - Robin Williams. It makes me sad that it's taken this tragic loss to spark the idea that I speak about depression on my blog. It makes me sad that amongst the wonderful memories of him being shared online, there are bouts of misunderstood, confused individuals, claiming selfishness played a part in his departure. It makes me sad that we aren't educated, as a society, to cope with the sheer volume of individuals battling depression. It makes me sad that such a travesty must occur to raise awareness for an illness as severe as depression. It makes me sad, that not many see depression as an illness.
Depression has a face
If someone is ill...with something you can look at, objectify, we don't necessarily have to have experienced that illness to understand it. We can sympathise, we offer ourselves unwittingly to be of service in any way we can, to help soften the blow, ease the pain. So why aren't we doing the same for depression?
It's difficult to look at someone, like Robin, who on the outside is everything you wish you could be. Effortlessly hilarious, successful - but what we need to recognise is that there doesn't have to be something bad going on in your life to suffer with depression. Sentences like 'but their life is so perfect, they seem so happy, I just don't understand' really get my goat. Guess what, they don't get it either.
We don't have to understand. In fact, we can't, just like you can't really understand Cancer unless you've had it. But what we can do is try to support and recognise.
Depression is loneliness
Why should we put ourselves on the line? To essentially be told: SWIM, GOD DAMMIT, when clearly we are drowning? [tweet this].
Because realistically, that's the awful opinion many of us have. 'You can do it, you just have to believe in yourself', I'm afraid is not the answer and 9/10 will just push that person further away.
We raise money for Cancer by running races, coppin' a feel, baking a cake, because well that's what you do isn't it? When did you last think about raising money for MIND? Point and case.
My beautiful friend, Laura, posted this snippet from one of Robin's best:
"Mork & Mindy: In Mork We Trust (#1.21)" (1979)
Orson: The report, Mork.
Mork: This week I discovered a terrible disease called loneliness.
Orson: Do many people on Earth suffer from this disease?
Mork: Oh yes sir, and how they suffer. One man I know suffers so much he has to take a medication called bourbon, even that doesn't help very much because then he can hear paint dry.
Orson: Does bed rest help?
Mork: No because I've heard that sleeping alone is part of the problem. You see, Orson, loneliness is a disease of the spirit. People who have it think that no one cares about them.
Orson: Do you have any idea why?
Mork: Yes sir you can count on me. You see, when children are young, they're told not to talk to strangers. When they go to school, they're told not to talk to the person next to them. Finally when they're very old, they're told not to talk to themselves, who's left?
Orson: Are you saying Earthlings make each other lonely?
Mork: No sir I'm saying just the opposite. They make themselves lonely, they're so busy looking out for number one that there's not enough room for two.
Orson: It's too bad everybody down there can't get together and find a cure.
Mork: Here's the paradox sir because if they did get together, they wouldn't need one.
It struck a chord, it made me cry, because even when saying the words out loud, no-one is listening. So please, if we do one thing today, let's speak out about depression, let ourselves be vulnerable if we suffer, let ourselves be strong for others if we don't.
Together we can combat this awful illness, together we can make the world a less lonely place. Together we can ease the pain.
For Robin, words can't explain the joy you brought to so many lives. A hero, in every sense of the word. xxx