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R.I.P. Robin Williams: Cancer screams as depression whispers

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This article is not like anything anyone who knows me would think I would write. It comes from a place that inspired a book that I have been working on for years now. It comes from a place that sadly I feel will still be overlooked by those who just will never understand…

Rest in Peace, Mr. Robin Williams. You will be so sadly missed by all those whose lives you touched. Even with a simple laugh or with true life changing inspiration, you sprinkled love and compassion onto those who needed you at some of the most difficult times in their lives, although they never understood the demons you faced as you laughed and smiled through the pain. May as many angels surround you as lives you have touched.

I am a member of Facebook and have read so many posts and comments full of judgment, condemnation and hate. Of the names Mr. Williams was called was a “coward,” and a “loser.” As I start to type this I start to pound on the keys a little harder with each stroke. It is infuriating.

Clinical depression is not a choice. It is not something that someone can “just get over.” It is a disease, not any worse or better than is cancer or any other physical, medical condition. I have read that people should “get help” or “turn to God” for help for their clinical depression. Okay, a fair statement to some degree, but those of you who have no idea what depression is, let me clarify why it angers me when you say that. Yes, get help. Yes, fight. Yes, turn to whomever/whatever you believe in to help you and try to seek treatment for yourself and for those who love you. At the same time, NEVER allow anyone to say that you have control over clinical depression, just like one has no control over having cancer. That is right. There is no difference!

The world sends outcries of support for cancer victims, those with heart disease, etc. any life threatening issue (as do I); however, only some people (and there are some truly wonderful groups for suicide prevention and depression who support the causes – thank you), but the majority of people really do not understand what depression is and do not send the same support. Think about it. It is true. I have read on Facebook that people who are starving, abused, live in 3rd world countries with no food, water or shelter “manage to survive,” so why can’t someone with depression? Oh my, did you just make that comparison? Really? Ignorance is so NOT bliss sometimes.

Depression is not a weakness. It is not a character flaw. It is a chemical imbalance that no one asks to have. Suicide may be thought of as selfish, but it is no more selfish when one kills themselves because they cannot live with the pain of their physical illness anymore.

If I could give a “hater” of those who have appalled me by typing on Facebook posts and in comment sections that Robin Williams should have turned to God or had enough money to get help – If I could give them his kind of depression for just ONE single day, I would not hesitate. One can read all they want about depression. They can educate themselves all they want about this silent killer, but that won’t help. Cancer is a loud, obnoxious, boisterous, non-stigmatized killer. Depression is not. It is often silent. Even after all these years it is negatively stigmatized and ignored for the most part. Or the people who suffer are called “crazy,” etc. “He (or she) will get over it.” “Pick yourself up and get on with it.” Shame on anyone who utters those words.

Disclaimer: Thank goodness with all that hold sacred that I do not suffer with clinical depression and never have. Nor have I suffered with cancer; however, that does not mean that I do not understand what the fear, horror and unfathomable dreadfulness they can cause those who deal with them – and to those who have to watch their loved ones suffer.

Physical illness is NO different than mental illness. One can get all the help they can afford, but it still just might be enough to win the battle.

This personal piece is to you… the ones who cannot possibly understand depression or any other true mental or emotional disorder and to one of my Doctoral professors who never understood it either.

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