Depression a dangerous monster
You’ve probably read something about depression since Robin Williams committed suicide.
Yes, in the end he was a man who could make anyone happy but himself.
The danger here, since Robin was famous and tributes have come pouring in, is that stories will morph mostly into the tragedy of Robin Williams… And not enough attention will be paid to the depression that killed him.
I am begging you to look at it the other way around.
In the very recent past, I have wept for three people who were struck down by the cold-blooded killer called depression.
One of them was Robin, whom I met on the set of “Mork and Mindy” many years ago, when he tried to lure me into an episode. After that, I saw him occasionally at clubs around San Francisco.
I knew about his struggles, as did most of his friends, but there was a time not too long ago when he seemed to have escaped a death sentence.
But when I saw some recent Instagram photos Robin posted of his children when they were very young, I knew he was in the gravest possible danger from pain too terrible to endure.
You saw the result.
The other two victims, you probably wouldn’t know — and I’m not going to share their names, in any case.
But each suffered so intensely that it’s probably impossible — if you haven’t been there — to know why the unknown abyss of death seemed preferable to the awful, punishing, relentlessly painful worlds existing in their own heads.
One was a journalist, a young man of immense intelligence and promise, whom I met through his father.
I understood there were problems, and then a crisis.
Help. Then treatment. Then another crisis.
And finally… Here is the part of his suicide note I believe I can share, because the victim in this case understood — as Robin Williams did — exactly what was happening to him.
“ It’ s a beast won’t don’t stop, Dad, and all it has in store is hurt, for everyone. Well, I guess this is part of that, but please don’t fret.
“ It’ s just a bad hand dealt. This is the course of this thing. This was set to be from the start… decided many years ago, and look at the inexplicable course.
“ This road was laid down. I don’t think much of ‘ destiny ,’ but with this particular deal, that’ s what it is. It really is a fascinating psychological phenomenon.
“ Not known much, or talked about. But very real, and I suspect the root of much of what we see — an invisible insidiousness.”
Can you imagine what it must have felt like, day after day, to feel that kind of pain inside you?
People throw around the word “depression” as though it refers to a type of mood.
They believe that if someone is depressed, they should cheer up, read a good book, find some enjoyable physical activity, anything to turn things around so the world’s rose garden will suddenly reappear.
For the third time in far too short a time, I am reminded that it doesn’t work that way.
Depression is a serious illness that needs critical, knowledgeable treatment at the very first symptoms — and thorough, no-stone-unturned research until medical science knows why this awful thing happens to people who seem to have so many good things in their lives.
In case I’m not being blunt enough, I knew these people who took their own lives, and they did it because the alternative was worse.
It wasn’t lack of courage, or an absence of love from family and friends, or a lost job, or anything like stupid “analyses” you see on the internet about how they didn’t care enough to defeat a lack of self-esteem.
That’s all crap.
Depression isn’t a mood.
It’s a disease, and by now we doggone sure ought to know… It’s fatal.