Robin Williams, an iconic stand-up comedian and actor, is remembered for the countless characters he played that filled so many lives with laughter and joy.
From the outside, no one would have suspected that he was suffering from depression.
Although depression may not have been the only factor in his suicide, it certainly got the nation’s attention.
To this day people remain shocked that his life ended with him hanging from a closet door with a nylon belt around his neck and slashed up wrists.
Could it have been prevented? Perhaps not in Mr. Williams’ case, because depression was only one of the reasons for his suicide.
However, many believe suicide is the only way out of the debilitating disease that is depression. But, if sufferers seek out help and get the treatment they desperately need, then perhaps their lives can be spared of such a sudden and unnecessary death.
People mask away their pain, keeping it held somewhere deep in the catacombs of their mind. They are either afraid to show their emotions because it will make them appear weak, or it will force them to talk about it. Often, they don’t want to talk about their thoughts.
“Depression to me feels like you’re suffocating your own self; you’re battling in a war in your head, and you don’t know which side is going to win. You want to get better, but you don’t know where to start,” Megan Smith said. “Then, you have good days, and you feel like you’ve got it under control, and then out of nowhere, it comes back again.”
She was then asked what she imagines a person suffering from depression looks like.
“I see someone who is smiling and laughing with people. They are going about life as if everything is normal and they’re fine,” Smith answered. “But, when they get home, and they’re alone, the fake smile comes off, and all they want to do is curl up and sleep.”
When a mother of two was asked why she felt inclined to deny the possibility of suffering from depression, she said she thought she should be able to handle what was happening on her own.
She thought that if she admitted it, it would somehow make her weak. She did not want herself to need treatment to get through it.
It took her “flipping out” on her husband, for her to realize that she needed help.
A hormonal imbalance, after recently having her second child, was the cause of her depression. Finally getting treatment helped her in the end.
“My depression won’t go away. I seldom confide in my friends. When I do, most of them tell me that I am stronger than my depression and that I have the willpower to fight it. I want to scream at them. I want to tell them that what they’re saying is crap,” Sarah, a young college student, said as tears began to form in the corner of her eyes. “I can’t fight it, and I can’t control it. It consumes me, deep in my inner core.”
“I know that I need help. I’ve sought it before, but I can’t afford to go to the much-needed counseling every two weeks,” she continued. “I can’t afford the medication that didn’t seem to work anyway. I can’t even afford to go to the doctor for them to prescribe me a different medication that probably won’t make the pain any more bearable.”
There are several factors that cause a person to not seek the help they need to get better.
Sometimes, it comes down to money. They know they need help, but they can’t afford it. Perhaps, they’ve sought help before, but they got nowhere, leading them to believe that nothing will help.
For now, people will go on pretending that they are fine. The people around them will believe that they are fine.
They will believe that what they see is what they get, not realizing that their loved ones are only pretending to be happy.
A National Depression Screening Day was held on Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 10 a.m. in the UC Mall.