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On the insidiousness of Depression, Suicide, and Robin Williams

yowoto-aladdin-hugging-genieIt’s hard to see something like this happen to someone like Robin Williams, much like Stephen Fry’s revelation of attempted suicide last year. It reminds me that if I make it to 63 I will still be someone who struggles with depression and who could fail in that struggle at any time. It reminds me that it will never go away. And it reminds me that it doesn’t matter how much I accomplish, accomplishments will never be bulwark enough against the thing.

Living with chronic conditions, including depression and I imagine addiction, is remarkably difficult, even when those conditions are “under control,” because you’re just a bad day or a single wrong step away from them being massively out of control. And the daily grind of dealing with them, all the energy and money poured into treatment and counsel and behavior and environment can build up without warning and pull you down.

I am lucky that all my conditions are treatable to some extent. I’ve been on medication non-stop for 22 years and I will have to take medicine every day until I die. It is remarkable, really, that I’m alive, and I am grateful for it and the science that’s made it possible. But some days are a punch to the gut. And some days I am physically unwell. And some days I am sad. And some days they all happen at the same time. And some weeks are just collections of those kind of days. And some months are collections of those weeks.

I’m having that sort of a month, but I am OK. Because there are a lot of people in the world who love me and who I love and I know that, and many of you are here on Facbeook. Depression lies, but I don’t think it could ever convince me I didn’t love you all. And that is enough for today. And tomorrow I’ll figure out tomorrow.

Comments

  1. John Horstman says

    Living with chronic conditions, including depression and I imagine addiction, is remarkably difficult, even when those conditions are “under control,” because you’re just a bad day or a single wrong step away from them being massively out of control.

    And people who are unfamiliar with such conditions often wonder about (or even sometimes resent) the need to maintain a certain degree of stability and control over one’s environment in order to avoid those bad days or wrong steps. I find the spoon metaphor to be a reasonably good way of trying to explain it, though I’ve met any number of people (including a couple of close friends) who just can’t wrap their heads around conditions like depression. Best wishes for a depressed episode that is both light in severity and short in duration or, failing that, successful coping for the duration.

  2. A Hermit says

    Sometimes it’s enough just to know you aren’t alone. Thank you for letting me know.

  3. estraven says

    Wishing you all the best, Ashley. I am very glad you are still here.

    I just went on a blog that condemned Williams as selfish and pretty much said to his corpse “fuck you,” and when I talked about depression and how this blogger didn’t understand it, and that I have been diagnosed in the past with clinical depression, was told, “Go kill yourself. Stop whining.”

    Two people close to me have suffered depression also, to the point of suicide attempts. I cannot imagine someone saying to them, “go kill yourself, whiner.”

    I am sorry, Ashley, that you have to struggle through this stuff. I am really sorry that we as a society are not more advanced. Hugs if you want them. If not, just very earnest wishes for your well being.

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  1. […] the best overview of the reactions of the atheist community to his death. Ashley Miller discusses the role of depression in the light of his death. This is some teachers inspired by his role in Dead Poets Society, a sentiment I expressed in my […]

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