The Northerner

Robin Williams and depression looking in

Photo provided by Sam Lapin

Samuel Lapin, Contributor

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The suicide of Robin Williams is confusing. How can someone who has so much going for him and who seems to have joy flow from him like water from a fountain not have the will to live? It’s hard for people who have never experienced it to understand.

As someone who has experienced it, I want to tell you that it can be even more confusing to us. I have an amazing family, a job I love, and wonderful opportunities to serve my community. I am outgoing, confident, fun-loving, and often the life of the party. And a few weeks ago, my doctor and I were trying to figure out why I was constantly crying and struggling with the will to live.

Robin Williams was a very giving person. He was a dedicated USO volunteer and worked hard for several charities. I hope in death he can provide one more valuable service to the world. I hope his death will help move us significantly forward in being open about depression.

I have struggled with depression for more than 30 years, but only in the past couple of years have I opened up to people beyond my immediate family. It’s time.

It’s time for us to see depression for what it is – an illness. It is an illness that is as real as asthma or arthritis or any other.

And most importantly, it is an illness that can be treated.

I have had others come to me and say they think they may be suffering from depression, but they are not sure, which in turn makes them reluctant to seek help. I always tell them the same thing – seek help! Depression, like other illnesses, takes many forms. And by seeking help, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Furthermore, counseling is not just for people with depression or anxiety or other mental illnesses. Counseling is for anyone who seeks to make themselves better and stronger. Think of it like a fitness trainer for the mind and soul.

I have depression. It is something I would not wish on anyone, but it can be a valuable teacher. One thing I have learned from depression is that the ability we have to reach out to others during our shared bumpy ride on planet Earth is a precious gift.

Being open about my depression is not easy, but if it makes a difference to just one other person, I am going to shout about it.

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Robin Williams and depression looking in