Depression is a deadly illness

As I am sure everyone knows by now, Robin Williams died from depression yesterday. The internet is abuzz. I feel some need to contribute, but everyone is so articulate already, but by the time I would have the words to be articulate myself everyone will have moved on to the next thing. So I am going to try to say something, even though I don’t have the words yet.

I have thoughts. Thoughts about how depression is a deadly illness that we need to take seriously.

Thoughts about how I am heartened and surprised by the outpouring of compassion I am seeing, when I am so used to seeing the opposite when it comes to dying of depression.

Thoughts about the problems inherent in our “battle” metaphor of illness, and how those problems can be really thrown into sharp relief when it comes to mental illness, depression, and dying of depression.

Which leads into thoughts about the words I don’t want to use, like “losing his battle with depression.” The metaphor is all wrong, but I can’t articulate it yet.

Thoughts about death and grief and the nature of loss, and how public loss and private loss are different but not really.

Plus a smattering of frustration that it really does take me a while to find the proper words to express my thoughts, and everyone else seems so much faster than I am.

Maybe some of these thoughts will turn into blog posts eventually, who knows. Right now, this is the best I can do.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Depression is a deadly illness

  1. J Kn

    Andraya – I think you’re right about “battle” being the wrong metaphor – while it’s a handy way of describing a struggle, it puts the cart before the horse.
    Dealing with depression is about coping, about moving forward. If one conceives of it as a fight, who is one fighting against? Oneself! The depression is not separable from the person. Moreover, the goal is NOT to destroy oneself, but to re-unify, to reconcile and mend oneself.
    If someone wants to use military metaphors, then he or she should realize that it’s not a single battle – it’s a long, drawn-out campaign requiring all available resources – logistics (decent food and sleep), tactics (awareness of bad and false habits of thinking), technology (medication and therapy), and hope for a future, for a decent measure of success in putting the worst of the struggle behind you.

  2. gretchen pinkava

    Hey there! Thank you, for helping me understand that it’s ‘not just me’ in experiencing my thoughts and feelings after something so major as this recent tragedy (?) I like to think of it as, Robin made a choice. A choice about himself, his life, his responsibility. I am sure he waited as long as he could, possibly since childhood, to enact his own end to his incredible pain. I too, have aspergers. I often have a deer in headlights look when folks ask me how I feel…I can’t usually articulate right away, but, come 3am, the words are flowing beautifully in my head, but again, with no way out. You have enormous compassion. Stay strong, ignore the naysayers, be beautiful 🙂 Gretchen