Robin Williams, Oh How We Loved You. Depression is Real.
I started MysteryShrink as one answer to a question that is with me daily. “What have you contributed today to make a difference to the emotional suffering of people?”
The question is the same every day. How can I take what I’ve learned in training, study, writing, and life and give something back? Add to the beauty of one person’s day? Add a smile? Help others take life more seriously and themselves less seriously? See the love in humanness? Bring us together in love? Not be so afraid of the opinions of others and more dangerously, how to not buy into our culture of blind consumerism? How can I help others see through the deadness of working, buying, and thus help a little in ripping the veil off the thousands of daily messages, paid for with way more money than those of the opposition will ever have—messages that teach that if you are a person of value, it is because you are envied by others. I can I help someone give up the death-walk of calming anxiety by working his or her way to a position of specialness—evident from the possessions Lexus new ads go straight to the point. If you’re in a Lexus, others will envy you.
**This is not a sermon. At one time, the guy and I each had a giant Lexus. Often the sneaky snake of evil slips into my brain when I’m anxious and says: “Fool, you are stupid to put love ahead of success. Joy in the sunset, hilarious dogs, and a loving family are silly substitutes for buying things and getting attention. Everybody wants fame and money. Join the racer or stay a fool.” The snake closes his tirade with venom saying: “Who do you think you are? Give it up. Only the envy others and piles of money will relieve your anxiety. Make you happy. You only say you have other goals because you are afraid of being the worst worm on earth—a failure. Down deep you know money and power alone will make you happy. Maybe not constantly, but if you start to doubt the rat race, the world now has constant entertainment to distract you from the truth.”
**This is not a sermon. My brain is often successfully invaded by that hungry and powerful snake of evil who knows instantly when I’m anxious or say and says: “You’re a fool to care about small things. Buy some more stuff, that will help. You’ll like the way you feel when people notice you and think of you as superior. You will be noticed for the labels on your clothes, the set of Versace luggage on the airport carrousel, your address, your set of jet skis. . . kick yourself every time you have a brownie because people will think you gross and you will have no choice but to agree and hate yourself with every bite. So you can’t win. Might as well be miserable in luxury.”
**Not a sermon. When flying out of Austin first class, I always make sure I’m ready to board with first class and my eyes flit up to economy class boarders, in case I notice someone I know and they notice me.
Oh, Robin Williams how I loved you. How I laughed like crazy. How we all loved you. Every morning, I still look in the mirror and herald the crazy world with “Helloooooo Vietnam!” A man in the midst of horror doing what he could do to cheer the troops offering their lives for no reason. Oh, I love you Robin Williams. How can we thank someone who has given us so much joy?
What does Robin Williams have to do with this essay? The highest form of the envied life is to be famous. If you are famous you are rich and powerful. You are in a special category. If you are rich and famous, you will be happy. Nothing that bothers you now will ever bother you again. Because wealth and fame fixes everything.
If you are rich and famous you won’t be depressed. If you have a face and a body envied by others you won’t be depressed. How could you be depressed when you have what the rest of us battle for every day? You have what it’s all about. You have all the things that—we are taught to believe—would never allow depression. If we had fame and no limits to what we could buy-we believe—we’d be happy all the time. If we can check things off a Bucket List, we’ll be happy.
Doesn’t work folks.
What this essay has to do with Robin Williams is a hope that his death can awaken us a bit. Teach us something in our own lives, and for me, I ask you to take the message to be more enlightened about depression.
Depression is real. It’s not a ‘bad mood’ that lasts a long time. Depression is not only about emotions. Depression changes a person’s thought process. Hope disappears. Beauty disappears. A sadness that you or I can’t simply talk someone out of, a sadness we can’t ‘threaten’ another person out of. Depression is a full-body and soul experience and more common that we ‘fixers’ want to admit.
To admit that depression exists and the consumer and envy based lifestyle does not fix it would ruin many industries. To admit that depression exists and that love, marriage, and plastic surgery doesn’t fix it would devastate the cosmetics and clothing industries. Childhood obesity is the number one health threat. Have a ‘Happy Meal.’
To admit depression exists can, when that demon snake sees an opportunity, make us feel helpless and angry. This is when the beliefs in psychology (therapy) and psychiatry (medication) are tossed in the mix. Get the depressed person into the right therapy and on the right medication and he or she won’t be depressed anymore. Right? It’s all about brain chemistry. Right?
Doesn’t work folks. Oh, both can help. But the wishful thinking fantasy and the smiling ‘patients’ in commercials do not tell the truth.
A very small percentage of depressed people find great relief with medication. A slightly larger group find moderate relief. The rest find only side effects. And the side effects are awful. Work with an excellent professional who understands the disorder and who can help the other find his or her strengths can help some. Again, when locating a professional, the depressed person is thrown to wandering in the woods with little to go on and a ‘list’ of professionals insurance will pay for—not the best way for the depressed person to find an effective therapist. Most accomplished professionals rely on word of mouth and referrals from other trusted professionals. Again, the depressed person loses. The depressed person is more convinced the profound alienation is his or her fault.
Again, those who suffer depression have my upmost salute. How would any of us like to make an appointment with a stranger you know nothing about, and tell your story, only to learn over and over the therapy isn’t helping? And to not have the free choice to choose your own professional. And to do the process over and over until you and others think the problem is of your own making.
If you see a therapist who says you are depressed because of a long ago event, run. If you are seeing a therapist who blames your mother or your spouse for your depression, run. If your therapist tells you, you are depressed because you have a ‘fear of failure’ or, if not that, you have a ‘fear of success’ or any fad-based ‘thing inside your head,’ run, baby, run.
Depression is so much more profound than fad diagnoses and seasonal fad causes. And deserves more than fads and the latest drugs pawned by the pharmaceutical reps.
Oh, and for the oft heard remark, “I think she likes to be depressed.” Bunk. If I could tell a depressed person sitting across from me that I have a pill that will make the sadness go away, everyone would jump at the chance.
What can you do?
Seek help if you are depressed and hold that chin up. Keep trying until you find a worthy therapist. You are the brave ones. You have to fight for the sort of pleasure in life that others are blessed with without trying. If someone tells you, you aren’t trying hard enough, please guide them to this essay—and mention MysteryShrink has nothing to sell. But what a joy if I can pay it forward.
If someone suggests you go out and buy a new hat or get happy by going on the latest diet–tell them to read a good book and stay off your back. Love you. Hold you. Know that you are trying.
I usually do a post one a year to say “Thank you!” to all the people who are willing to try medication after medication and endure terrible side effects in the hope of relief. Living on a bunch of medications is hard. You people are my heroes.
Why this statement the day after Robin Williams gave up?
Because I want others to know he tried. Do I know that because I know him personally? Of course not. But I have worked with many people suffering with depression—some who eventually suicided—and I know how hard they tried. How they put up with awful drugs, therapy that didn’t help, and lost friends, family, and husbands and wives who became exhausted. Spent fortunes. Lost jobs. Lost dreams. Lost the ability to dream.
For the simple joy of seeing beauty in the sunset.
Call a person you know who is depressed. Commit to not giving up. Hug them. Applaud them. Tell them you can’t know what it’s like to be hit with by a train—and if you’ve never been depressed, you can’t—and you can’t be a professional for them, but you will not give up. You are not there to ‘fix’ but to ‘be with.’ When it comes to relationships-acceptance beats fixing all to hell. If I can help, let me know at email@example.com. If you’d like more on this subject let me know with firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear your secret ways of sneaking envy, so we can all laugh. If I end up blogging a list, it will be strictly confidential and I will ask you first. This is not a sleazy and lying way to get your email. Really.
I promised I’d never give out my actual email, but that was back when I thought about life differently and was all worried about having enough time to get everything done. Efficiency and time didn’t turn out to be as important as I thought they were.
Maybe suggest this post. Not because I’m looking for ‘Likes’ and ‘hits’ because these mean nothing. False gods, people. Money and entertainment doesn’t fix what’s broken. If there’s anything I can pass on, let it be that I know things don’t matter nearly as much as we think they do.
So warm someone’s heart. And always over-tip.