Yesterday the world received tragic news that comedian and actor, Robin Williams, lost his battle with depression. How could such a truly talented, funny, and seemingly kind person with access to every form of medical care lose this battle? Apparently, Williams had suffered much of his adult life from depression and yesterday it ended his life. Many will say depression doesn't kill yet they would be wrong. If even a famous, wealthy person as Williams couldn't fight off the devil that is depression, then are we really so sure that it doesn't kill?
Depression is depilitating both emotionally and physically. Sometimes it is impervious to medications, therapy, and other forms of treatment. Those who suffer from depression will tell you that there is no more painful disease than this one. When someone is experiencing an extreme bout of depression it is nearly impossible for them to think clearly, to shake it off, or to just move on with it. Most of us who have never suffered from this dreadful disease could not possibly understand how truly horrible it is. Williams's pain must have been devastating during the last days of his life.
So what can the rest of us do to honor this talented and funny man? We can start to talk about depression and mental illness the way we do any other disease. We can share our own stories, not judge those who suffer from mental illness, and offer compassion, understanding, and support no matter how frustrated we may be with friends and loved ones. We must take mental illness out of the shadows of shame and discuss it as we would any other difficult to cure disease.
Depression is deadly and we must acknowledge it in this way and work to find a cure as well as a variety of treatments. Robin Williams will always be remembered as the world's funny man yet clearly he was a man in pain. Maybe it would serve his memory well if we also remembered the disease that took his life and work to save the lives of others who suffer similiarly.
Lisa Kaplin is a psychologist and life coach. You can reach her at Lisa@smartwomeninspiredlives.com or SmartWomenInspiredLives.com