Depression is Real.

Depression is real and no, it isn’t how you feel when you discover the Wi-Fi in the area you are in is so ‘painfully’ slow.

The recent news of Robin Williams’ death has stirred some very repressed feelings within me and many others who looked up to the legendary actor and comedian. Outpourings on the internet of fans grief was quickly followed by the trolls saying we should forget about anyone cowardly enough to take the ‘easy’ way out.

It has occurred to me how very ignorant people tend to be when it comes to things such as mental illnesses. The ignorance runs so deep that you find people simply telling a person who suffers from depression to ‘get over it’ or ‘it’s not the end of the world’.

Sufferers of depression are very edgy and reluctant to admit to their struggles, mostly because it makes them feel like others will perceive them as weak and in most cases this is sadly the case. It has been my experience that those who freely admit to being depressed are either looking for attention or for some other unsavoury purpose and I say this with confidence because no one suffering from depression will easily admit to it, let alone publicize it.

With the passing of such a great man who was best known for something many would consider worlds away from depression, we see a spotlight turned on how something like that could happen.

Suddenly statistics and other rehashed information informs people on how depression affects ‘this’ amount of people and how ‘that’ amount of people are unlikely to show the obvious known symptoms. Honestly, the new overflow of old information makes me sick and mainly because I know in a week or two it will just fizzle out into the internet’s archives and gather dust until the next person of interest checks out.

It truly pains me to see how ignorance keeps people from not only seeing, but knowing, that Depression is real. Sure it has it’s ‘common’ symptoms and all that, but what the doctors can’t measure and the uninformed don’t know, is that it affects every individual differently.

Ironically, depression is one of those things that just prove how unique you are as an individual as it sneaks up on you and takes residence in the ways you aren’t even looking for because doctor so and so haven’t written a paper on that even being a symptom, so therefore it cannot be a symptom which means you are not depressed.

It’s the individual ways that depression affects people that also give the creative legends of our time the spark that separates them from everybody else. We see it with all the celebrities who struggle with addiction and abuse and hordes of other mental problems while simultaneously rising higher and higher in their careers.

Robin Williams lived a good portion of his life bringing us to tears with his outstanding performances and his own unique brand of ingenious comedy, but just because he made his living making others laugh does not necessarily mean that he lived laughing himself. Those who work to entertain others surprisingly tend to be amongst the saddest individuals you’ll ever meet. The only difference between them and others suffering against the same darkness in their soul, is that entertainers have learned to cope with turning their pain into laughter.

I personally think it’s because those very same entertainers understand the very dark and cruel nature of humanity that lives within every single person. They know that one man’s tears will always in some way bring a smile or laugh to another man. That is unfortunately the twisted nature of us all, regardless of how much or how often we may try to deny it.

Humanity isn’t just love, compassion and hope. Humanity is pain, suffering and isolation.

Research tells us that depression is an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, amongst other things. But people don’t feel chemicals, short of sticking your finger into a vat of acid and feeling the sting before no more finger exists, it’s safe to say people feel feelings; those intangible things that define who we are and control what we do.

It isn’t a lack of chemicals that forces you into a corner feeling inadequate and unworthy of other human companionship, it’s the feeling that you are worthless and that no one wants to know you, understand you. It isn’t a chemical that picks up a knife or ties the knot, it’s the feeling that everything doesn’t matter any more, that no other options exist and there’s no other way.

The strength that it must have taken Robin Williams to finally buckle that belt around his neck is something very few people can understand in the way it needs to be understood. It wasn’t ‘easy’ for him to take his life as hordes of internet users keep spewing on all the social platforms. Look at the evidence of his first attempt with the knife possibly minutes before he resorted to the belt.

I don’t know him and I can’t say what made him abandon the blade for the belt, but I can understand the need to find an alternate solution to your problem when the current method leaves too much time to think and the thoughts to grow heavier. Everybody has been there, plan A fails or takes too long then jump straight to plan B.

Easy’ is not something another human being has the right to call his actions, not unless you’ve walked up to the man and tried to help him from his silent anguish. If you had witnessed his struggle and tried to help, against all rejection and protest, then by all means preach away on how ‘cowardly’ or ‘stupid’ his actions were. But until you have walked his path and felt his raw emotions, then keep those ignorant thoughts to yourself.

Robin Williams, though not a perfect man by any stretch, accomplished what many merely speak of doing and in a time when heroes are few and far between, he became a legend and a lesson to all of us.

Regardless of how he chose to leave this world and regardless of how those who feel he slighted them with his departure, he will always be remembered as the man so comfortable in his masculinity he could wear a dress and make an award winning movie about it; one of the few men who showed how the unconventional can change one’s way of thinking and living. The examples are endless.

But the one thing I’ll thank him most for, aside from the laughs and memories spent with my family watching him entertain us in all his many personalities on screen, aside from the inspiration he has been in my own search for my individual creativity, is that he served as a powerful reminder that Depression is indeed real and that it affects us all, no matter who we are.

Rest in Peace Captain,

For all your dazzling smiles and hidden trials,

Sleep now with the unending belief, that you have, in your own way, changed the world...

Know that you have forever made your mark on it,

And perhaps, in another life, you can return and remind us again why it is that we laugh away the pain.