Yesterday morning my alarm clock radio(totally old school!) went of and the news says that the actor Robin Williams, had died. He had a history of battling addiction and mental health. I immediately felt a great wave of sadness. Here was a man in his sixties, a husband and father, successful and leading a good life who had been overcome and taken by the grips of depression. Of course, I did not know him personally but it resonated with me personally. Someone once said, if you have a broken arm, you go to the doctor, get it seen to, no question, no hiding, no problem. If you’re feeling low, do you do the same?
A comic genius with an endless ability to bring laughter and joy through his art. Laughter being a common denominator that connects human beings.
Sadness can also bring people together. Depression is an extremely personal thing and when in its grip, it can be difficult to see a way out. Sadly for some they believe there will never be a way out, for others with help can manage it. Why is it as humans, we struggle so much with emotion and yet we all have them, we all know we have them. Everyone feels fear, gets anxious, yet somehow we think if we show them we will be judged. Is this a primal thing, must not show fear or a way to protect ourselves against what we perceive to be dangerous? Is it a pride thing, must always appear strong and confident. Is it a shame thing? Are we a product of a upbringing or society, our genes, there are so many questions. I guess with mental health there are as many individual reasons as there are commonalities of experience. The difference is for someone that is depressed it can become overarching, debilitating and extremely painful. I came across this excellent two part series now on RTE Player called How to be happy well worth watching for those interested.
I don’t dare suggest that I have answers or endeavour to offer solutions as everyone’s experience is individual. I don’t underestimate at all the courage it takes to walk that first step to seeking help.
It can be extremely difficult to pull yourself out of the dark place or understand what is happening or why. Perhaps what we need is to think of it the same way we do when we break our arm, we can’t fix it that ourselves, we have to seek a doctor. Perhaps art and poetry and doing more of what you love will counteract some of the pain. I do believe that seeking help will make a difference. I believe management of mental health is lifelong as it is for physical conditions. This is not to trivialise or simplify what can seem insurmountable. Trying to change how the world sees mental health is too big an idea for me, though I support it… trying to change how you see it within yourself is where to begin. The human spirit has great capacity to heal and I believe change is possible. There are many low cost counselling services all across the country, a little too many for me to list, simply going to your GP may be the easiest place to start.
RIP Robin Williams