Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The noblest thing you will ever do

Robin Williams in Dead Poets' Society

This morning I woke to the news that the wonderful Robin Williams had died after an apparent suicide.

A hugely talented actor and comedian, he leaves behind a legacy of brilliant performances in films and TV shows including one of my all-time favourites, Dead Poets' Society.

Whatever the reason for his death, one thing is certain - here was a man who despite his talents, accolades and worldly goods, was bedevilled by depression.

I posted a quote this quote by Stephen Fry on Facebook, but despite believing it to be true and wishing people would take every word to heart, my own experience of depression tells a different story.

I have only ever told three friends that I struggle with depression. As in, actually sat down with them and tried to explain the dark moods, the blackness, the despair. Since then, only one of those friends has maintained contact with me.

I get it. Depression is difficult to understand. Why would someone like Robin Williams be depressed? He has more money and fans than he could shake a stick at. And yet, he was.

And it's embarrassing to talk about. I mean, everyone feels a bit down sometimes don't they? Pull yourself together!

Then there's the disbelief that someone is depressed. "But you always seems to happy!" Well, a lot of people with depression are experts at covering it up with a smile. I know, sounds crazy but it's true. How can someone smile if they're depressed? Yet they do.

Something that I'm guilty of doing myself is trying to find a reason for depression, something that has triggered an episode, and I only recently realised that there doesn't have to be one.

Depression is just there, like a rain cloud that passes over a town without warning. A town where people where playing in the park, or had hung their washing out on the line to dry in the sun. A place where one minute it was bright and happy and the sun was shining and now, suddenly, it's pouring with rain.

If anything good comes from Robin Williams' death, let it be a better understanding of mental illness and depression, and that people think about their own friends and relatives who struggle with it and try to understand what they can do to help.

Please, try to help. A text, an email, a phone call. Just knowing someone is thinking about you, it helps.

God bless, Mr Williams. Rest in peace.

Depression Alliance