Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Sadness and Depression

Yesterday I learnt about the death of the most iconic of comedians - Robin Williams. 

depression, died, suicide

Rest in Peace.

I felt really upset, because it felt like he was part of my childhood. I remember watching Mork and Mindy and loving his rainbow braces. Thinking Hook was just the most magical thing I had ever seen. Watching Mrs Doubtfire with my brothers on a Sunday afternoon, and plucking up the courage to see Jumanji in the cinema even though I knew that it had lions and crocodiles jumping out at people (and I was literally scared of everything at the time). Then I grew up and discovered him as a dramatic actor, in Good Will Hunting, the brilliant Insomnia, and his utterly creepy turn in One Hour Photo. He was such a familiar face, that I couldn't help but feel a deep sense of loss and judging by the reactions around the world I am not alone.

Then I learnt that he had reportedly committed suicide due to the severe depression he was battling, and his death became all the more heart-breaking.

I have suffered from bouts of severe depression in the past (luckily it hasn't reared it's head properly in a while) and I have had those evil thoughts where things just look so lost to you that you may as well end it all. After all, when you have severe depression you already feel like you've died as a person anyway, because it just takes over and consumes you. It just feels so tempting to take the option to give up on things completely, because it's so utterly exhausting having to battle it.

The thing that I find so emotional about his tragic death, is knowing how lost and unhappy this one man must have been before he ended his life, and how tiring it must have been for him to maintain some sort of air of normality. Depression is darkness and fear that is targeting you as a person, and as far as you're concerned, no-one else. It becomes sort of a cloak that others can't penetrate and you feel protects you from others. You can be horrible and mean to others, because 'fuck it, right?' they can't get to me anyway now. It completely numbs you in such a way that the only emotions you are capable to feeling are the horrible ones, and the only thing that alleviates it is sleep when you can get a break from the aggression going on in your head. So to know that someone that made me so happy as a child, and whom I respected as an adult, was going through that pain is upsetting.

The death of Robin Williams has also made me view depression from a different perspective. It wasn't just the loss of his life that was tragic, but the loss of himself as a person, which is a process I can only assume had been happening for some time. There is such a stigma in our society towards mental illness (especially in men) that it's hard not to draw conclusions about whether a great comedian would still be alive today if things were different. Perhaps if we were less unsympathetic and ignorant towards mental illness, it would give a sufferer more breathing space and the encouragement to find the strength to battle it and allow their true selves to ignite again.