A Wake Up Call to Depression
Sometimes it takes a celebrity to bring light to a cause or condition. And sadly, that was the case this week with the death of Robin Williams. A wildly creative force, Robin fought depression like so many people do . . . quietly, behind the scenes and often disguised by a contrasting persona of hilarity and comic behaviors or clouded by alcohol and drug abuse. I couldn’t help but think of another brilliant and creative comic, Jonathon Winters who also suffered from that same manic fine line that teeters between hysterical humor and dark depressions. Williams credited Winters as a big influence on his improvisational style and in 1986 the two broke out into a hilarious impromptu show for the 60 minutes crew, and Ed Bradley who was interviewing them. But their similarities didn’t end there, again, sadly.
Depression is the leading cause of disability in ages 15 to 44 and affects approximately 14.8 million adults each year. These are the reported numbers. But what about the folks who don’t seek help, don’t discuss it with a doctor, and don’t factor into these numbers?
The stigma of depression and other mental illnesses still prevents many from seeking help. In our highly intrusive world of reality tv and social media postings of selfies and personal information that most don’t really wish to know about, the real issues and concerns that people have often are covered up or ignored. Some people are still reluctant to reach out to someone to talk to or find support. Perhaps it is someone in your very own family, or neighborhood, or workplace. Perhaps they disguise it with the jokester approach, the refilling cocktail glass or some other substance, or simply withdraw from social life. Perhaps they want it to stop but they don’t know how to ask for help.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a website with a wealth of resources at www.nami.org. There is also a site www.strengthofus.org that provides an online community of support for young adults dealing with mental health issues. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is another great online resource at www.dbsalliance.org. Access these resources or pass them along to someone who may need them. As Robin Williams said in one of his more memorable roles, seize the day.