The shocking suicide of Robin Williams just a couple of days ago has really demonstrated two things when it comes to talking about depression. Firstly, that we are so much more open than we were even just a couple of years ago. On social media, people are being far more open about their own struggles or people they know.
I find this very encouraging and hope that someday this is the norm, where we are just as sympathetic to people with broken thoughts as we are to somebody with a broken leg. I hope to live in a world where we are far kinder to one another and treat mental illness as we would any other and not retreat in fear when we hear of somebody we know admit to being depressed. I hope we live in a world where people who have mental illness don’t feel it is something they have to “admit”, that they never live with the stigma of previous generations.
Yet the other thing I have noticed is that we still have a long way to go. I’ve seen the crassest ignorance and people asking “Why did he do this? He had it all! He was rich, famous and people adored him!” To those people I say…
No, seriously – fuck you. For all the information available these days, for how far more open we are in the western world about mental illness, mental health and how much organisations such as Mind and other major global charities have helped and are trying to help people with mental illness, there is no excuse for your continued ignorance. They are fighting an uphill battle to appeal to you and people like you, to challenge your ignorance so that one day you might discard it and treat people with depression as you would treat anybody with any other illness. You have no excuse for coming out with crap like that.
People who “have it all” still feel alone and afraid. People who are successful still suffer low self esteem. People who are beautiful still suffer BDD. People who have everything they could ever want still feel they have nothing. People who have everything to live for will feel they have nothing to live for.
Depression is not a choice. It is not wallowing in self-pity, it is a sickness. The fact that you cannot see it and the fact that it is an illness of thoughts and not one of the physical body does not make it unreal, does not make it something that will easily go away, does not mean that it is something a sufferer can get over.
This is a conversation we need to have, let’s start asking the right questions.
Finally, please watch this moving video.