Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Stigma of Depression

Robin Williams stunned the world when he committed suicide on August 11, 2014. I was deeply saddened but not stunned. I've always thought he had the saddest eyes. I believe there were many reasons why his death touched so many people: Millions of us can relate to depression. Unlike many celebrities, he didn't die from a drug overdose. He had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and was on medication that had a side effect of suicide.

When you think about how physical his comedy was and how lightning fast his mind worked, he must have felt his career and way of life were over. We cannot know what goes on in another person's mind, nor is it any of our business. The laughter he gave to all of us and his kind spirit to all he met will be sorely missed. After his death there was a lot of information and misinformation on every form of media you can name. I'm disheartened that so many people believe that fame and fortune will guarantee happiness. This prompted be to write the following post on Facebook.
I don't usually post much of a personal nature on FB, but I feel strongly about the topic of depression, so part of my writing today is going to include my thoughts on depression, an illness with the stigma of shame attached to it. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer 11 years ago, I felt a lot of things, shame was never one of them. I didn't hide it. I had support. I got well. Depression is a whole different game. We often try to hide our depression or deny that we suffer from it. The tricky part of depression is that sometimes you don't even know why you're depressed. This starts a lot of self-talk. "What's wrong with you? You don't have anything to be depressed about. Get up off the couch you ungrateful piece of shit." When I had breast cancer, not one person said to me, "Stop having cancer." But I have heard people say, "Stop being so depressed." Not helpful.I was never so depressed that I felt suicidal, but I have wondered how I could keep going. Many people think it's weak to ask for help. Asking for help is just the opposite of weakness. It's one of the strongest things you'll ever do for yourself. I think that sometimes, people are so worn down from fighting depression, that they feel they have run out of options. My two cents.

Laughter and smiles hide a lot. Take care of yourselves. Put your own oxygen mask on first. 

Rebekah for the Poplar Grove Muse. 


  1. True words, Rebekah. Thank you.

  2. You are a wise and wonderful woman. Thank you for sharing these powerful words. I agree about his sad eyes, always have. MKP