Tuesday, August 12, 2014

In The Wake of Robin Williams' Death, Let's Talk About Depression

I suffer from major depression.  I was finally diagnosed in 1991 and have been on anti-depressants ever since.  The medication changed, and saved, my life.  My first bout of depression was long before 1991. In 1978, I suffered from postpartum depression for at least three weeks.  I probably was depressed before that.  In 1991, I felt as if I was in a tunnel with no exit.  I had trouble coping with every day living.  I was a wife and mother of two small children.  How could I be depressed.

If I had not gone on anti-depressants in 1991, I do not know where I would be now.  I have a psychiatrist who I see every 6 - 9 months for a few months to make sure my meds are working.  I no longer suffer from major depression anymore.  I have not suffered a major depression since 1991, but I wonder where I would be without modern medicine.  Thank goodness for medical science!

I write this because yesterday Robin Williams killed himself and it has affected me tremendously, as it has many others.  We treat mental illness in this country as a dark little secret.  I do not know why I am prone to depression.  I believe my grandmother suffered from depression that ultimately, indirectly, killed her.  I do not know if I inherited depression, but I do not care.  I suffer from a mental illness that is in remission because of modern medicine.  I want to shout about my depression from the rooftops. Maybe, if someone else suffers from crippling depression, if someone else realizes that having a mental illness does not mean that he or she is a bad person, that person can get help.

Too many people are ashamed of their depression and fault themselves.  My depression is a medical condition which I treat with medical care.  I want others to get the help that I got years ago and continue to get to this day.  Depression is an illness.  Depression is not a personal failing.  When life seems pointless and hopeless, there can be hope.  I know I am lucky that the meds work.  If you are thinking about ending your life, or you exist with constant self-loathing, I hope you will seek help.  Suicide may be a solution for the one in pain, but it hurts so many survivors.  Please do not give up.


  1. You are much braver than I am. I am not ashamed of my depression, it reared its ugly head in early college and I have managed it with medication for more than 15 years now. I took myself off of the meds after a few years, thinking, I'm doing fine, I don't need these anymore. I was wrong and before I came to that conclusion on my own, my family lovingly stepped in and told me I needed to go back on the meds bc I was clearly constantly fighting off a sadness I could not name, nor could I pinpoint its cause. And while I'm not ashamed of it, I do keep it a secret bc I fear my boss and/or colleagues may use it against me. Part of that is the nature of being an attorney, I think, always worrying that something could be used against me. Part of it is the nature of the particular place I work and the cutthroat tactics employed by the powers that be. So while I'm not ashamed, I know that many people don't understand it and will form opinions that could impact promotions and even raises. Which is a little depressing itself, I suppose. My real point in sharing this is to applaud your ability to not be worried about how others may judge your battle with depression. I hope I get to that point soon.

  2. Thank you so much for commenting. That was very important to me.

  3. My depression comes with anxiety. The one time I sought help because it was way worse than I'd ever dealt with I had a colossally bad neurological reaction to one week of Prozac prescribed by a psychiatrist. My blockhead MD just said, "You're not depressed now, are you?" My naturopathic doctor put me on supplements, including St. John's wort, calcium/magnesium, B complex and a homeopathic remedy related to sweet peas. That worked. I have gotten other help since and my stress tends to run to anxiety and stomach ache now instead. I am glad the meds worked for you. (This is not a "don't take antidepressants" sermon!) They were a disaster for me but I got other kinds of help. I do have to watch it because I get the sneaky paralyzing kind of depression that makes me unable to get things done and I don't always see it. Anyway, thank you for sharing.
    I have since read other media reports that Robin Williams had the beginnings of Parkinson's disease and I have become aware that an organic based depression is one facet of that. What an awful break -- to be depression-ridden for other reasons and that on top of it. I wrestled with wondering if everything everyone has said online before that detail came out is now invalid, but of course it is not. I will be thinking of you, and others who grapple with these conditions, and of the people I knew who have died by their own hands, and Robin, and others whose passing has been highly publicized and send Light and healing your/their way.

  4. Check out Prof. Michael L. Perkin's body of work regarding legal sanism and the legal profession. So many lawyers suffer mightily, suffer silently, and do not get the help that they need and deserve. Our profession preserves our rights, freedom, and liberties. A paradigm shift must occur. No more assumption of the risk with maintaining the status quo.