Goodbye Robin Williams

Depression is not Contagious

I’ve brought up the subject of depression earlier in this blog. But after hearing the shocking news that Robin Williams’ ended his life yesterday, I am stirred again. Not only has Robin Williams’ family lost their father, brother, uncle, and husband, but the world has lost an amazing talent. I didn’t even know him personally and I’m sad he died. In addition to being sad, I’m mad.  I am mad enough to express my opinion on this subject.

I am not a clinical expert, but I did work two years for a suicide prevention project, and I am an expert friend of family and friends who have lost loved one to suicide. Each of these people had a diagnosed depression.  Each of these people were prescribed medication.  Each of these people were urged to seek therapy for the painful and unresolved issues festering somewhere in their person. Each one of these people chose not to continue their therapy.  Each one was talented in their own way, and smart. They contributed one-of-a-kind gifts to those that knew them. Each one left this world much too early. And each one, to some degree, hid their depression as if it were a contagious, untreatable, shameful disease.

I do not believe that suicide is an intentional, selfish act. I believe that most people who take their life do so because they can no long endure a pain that haunts them every day. How long do you think you would last crunching numbers on your P.C. with an untreated compound fracture of the ulna bone? I believe that a person who leaves a family they love behind via taking their life is not in their right mind. I believe that those locked in debilitating depression are simply too sick to grasp how deeply they were loved. Or too ashamed and confused to get the help they needed.

The biggest tragedy of depression, the most common cause of suicide, is treatable. The biggest roadblock to treating depression, and other mental illnesses, is STIGMA. How many more needless deaths will take place before we de stigmatize mental illness?

Depression affects the mind.  It is not an illness of the mind. It is an illness in the brain, a part of the body, a physical illness, not a spiritual illness, though depression can affect the spirit.  Depression is not a lack of faith, a failure, or a moral issue.  Depression is not laziness.

Depression hurts.  Depression can be debilitating. Depression sucks enjoyment. Depression removes the sunshine in a sunny day, the joy of something once enjoyed.  Depression lies.  It calls you “a failure” and  “lazy.”  It says “You cannot get better,” “Medicine is a lack of faith,” “Counseling is not trusting God.”

I believe that none of these things are true.

I believe that God weeps for the person struggling with depression.  I believe that God longs to comfort the person struggling with depression.

Please, please, please, hold on! Hold on to your family. Hold on to your friends.  Hold on to your doctor’s orders.

Hold on to life!



Today I was unfriended. The person who unfriended me was considerate to tell me why she unfriended me. The reasons she gave me is that she is not religious and somebody in my family failed her.  I was impressed with her consideration and sensed that she may have been reaching out to me in some way. Because the “I don’t believe in religion” point-of-view revealed a common misconception, I took the opportunity to share my point-of-view with her and with you. All identifing information has been removed from my return post (see below):

I appreciate your honesty and point-of-view and am sorry that my (relative) blew it for you. That is a hard and lasting bitter pill to swallow. I can understand your anger. And so does God. I believe in a God who is a perfect father even when the people in  life fail us. The irony about your statement about not being religious is that neither am I. I believe that religion can be extremely destructive. That’s why my subtite is “through the religious maze into amazing grace.” My story is one of a woman who left religion behind in lieu of a relationship with a compassionate and faithful God whose greatest talent is healing a broken heart.

I am not offended that you want to befriend me. I get it. But know that you will be on my heart and I will be talking to God about you; i.e., praying for you.

Jefferson Bethke (see link below) says it in a song way better than I can.