As we all digest the news about Robin Williams' apparent suicide, I find no better time to begin open discussions about mental illness. Sadly, mental illness continues to have such a stigma. People who battle depression, specifically, are often seen as weak and defective. Because of this, it is not talked about. Your friends, your neighbors, maybe even members of your family are hiding their struggles for fear of being labeled, rejected and judged.
After many years of providing therapy, I know firsthand that depression does not care what kind of car you drive, what kind of job you have, what background you come from. Depression doesn't care if you have a picture perfect marriage, adorable children, multiple degrees. Sometimes, there is just genetics to blame... I have helped clients understand that depression affected every single woman in their family. I have practiced deep breathing with individuals who have panic attacks over minor things most would never understand. Other times, depression is circumstantial...I have sat across from parents whose children have been sexually abused. I have mourned with children too young to have needed to experience death in their lives, I have helped people struggle through marriages that are falling apart. I have been part of journeys of such sadness with clients, there are not even words to explain it. I say this not to bring us all down, but rather as an attempt to lift us up, together.
May the death of Robin Williams help us to all realize that we know nothing about the sadness and struggles the people in our lives may be facing. People are so good at putting on a happy face and pretending that things are fine. If we can begin to be more open and accepting with each other and with the ugly parts of life, then we can lift each other up and help each other heal. If you are not sure how to help someone that is depressed, don't turn away. There are many resources that can help you better understand what to do. The following website has great resources:
If you fear that your child is depressed or struggling, please contact me at: