Robin Williams’ Death: A Psychologist’s View of Depression

Robin Williams CanadaLast week, our human mom, Dr. Hannah Richards, was saddened when she heard that a man by the name of Robin Williams died. As some of you know, she is a psychologist and has treated many patients who suffer from depression. We heard Mom talking on the phone to her best human friend, Judy. This is what she said:

“It is just plain sad, Judy, just plain sad. Such a talented man, such an amazing actor, is gone. For me, one of the saddest parts is to know how few people understand how painful clinical depression can be.

If you see a blind person, you are immediately aware of some of the challenges they face. If you see a soldier with no legs, you can surmise some of the challenges they must deal with every day. But, when someone suffers from a major depressive disorder people can’t SEE the problem, so they don’t really get it. The person looks just like you or me. They do not see the disability.

Maybe part of the problem is that we use the word “depressed” to mean anything from feeling a little down to a hormonal crying jag.

But Mr. Williams struggled all his life with a depressive, anxiety disorder, and when modern medicine failed, he tried to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Then against serious odds, he bravely fought back and got clean. As I understand it, he was still clean the day he died.

If he had taken his own life because he was suffering from the pain of cancer, maybe more people would understand that. Hear me well, I am not condoning suicide as an option, but people should know that there is real pain connected to severe depression. I think it is made worse by the fact that while people usually have empathy for the cancer patient, too few have any compassion for the person who is depressed. All too often, they believe the person should just ‘pull themselves up by their boot-straps and carry on.’

Yet, here was a man who had done just that — year after year after year he carried on. He didn’t lay in bed in his pajamas, unshaven, with the covers pulled over his head. He worked very hard at his craft, and he was incredibly good at it.

Yet, suddenly, one day last week, for reasons we will never know, the pain was no longer bearable. The man, who had fought for so long, chose not to fight anymore.

I cannot possibly imagine how great the despair and agony must have been for him to finally say, ‘no more.’

Judy, I will not judge him, but I am sad. I think we lost someone good.”

 

Who is Spunky?
Spunky is a 12-year-old terrier mutt and the protagonist of the Spunky Murder Mystery series, a series of cozy mysteries for dog and cat lovers, written by author Holly Lewitas. Titles include The Nose Knows, The Nose Sees All, and An Army of Noses.

 

Photo: “Robin Williams” via Wikimedia Commons is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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