Managing Depressions

12 Aug

News reports and social media feeds today are filled with the shocking announcement that the brilliant comic and actor Robin Williams has taken his own life at only 63. Already blogs and epapers are filling themselves up with “WTF” speculations and an hindsight-induced assessment of the warning signs of Williams’ depression.

I don’t want to do that. He was a brilliant performer who captivated me from childhood when I first saw Mork and Mindy, through to this year’s excellent sitcom The Crazy Ones. His troubled personal life and mental state were a matter of record – periods of substance abuse, an ongoing battle with alcoholism, and the up and down struggle with depression. He so aptly fitted that mythical status of troubled creative, a pained comic.


Matt Damon and Robin Williams talk it out in Good Will Hunting

It was somewhat of a refreshment to see a number of my friends talk even briefly about their own battles with depression and mental health issues on their Facebook and Twitter feeds. Its sad that it takes the death of a giant like Williams before some will address the issue at all. And even worse, that the taboos around depression will remain, trapping more and more in a strange isolation that only increases the problem.

Most of my regular readers are aware I’ve had my own issues with depression – and I expect they’ll always be lurking somewhere in the back of my mind. Not everyone with depression is a suicide risk, but suicide and self-harm are very real possibilities.

If you were at Tenx9 a few weeks ago you’ll have heard me talking about some of my own experiences with regards to self-harm and medication (amazing how cathartic a process talking about your innermost terrors to a room full of strangers is). I came through the other side bruised, but intact. Williams’ death reminds me I’m one of the lucky ones. Looking back some of the things that happened could have tipped me over the edge, some of the self-harm could have done permanent damage. There’s barely a day goes by where I don’t think about what could have happened.

For me, I was saved by building up a support network. I talked about what was happening, how I felt, to friends, family and specialists. I’m sure some of them were bored stiff listening to my woes, but listen they did. I wrote things down. I kept records. I took photographs.  All methods which helped reclaim my sanity, keep me certain of fiction and reality, and narrow down the problems. All things that made sure I never quite hit rock bottom.

It is possible to seem happy to the outside world. Possible to continue functioning, be seen to make plans, and all the time be trapped in an invisible prison of the mind. To live in a permanent out-of-body experience where you feel powerless and lacking in control. To feel so much pressure you pine for release.

Finding that release is the key. Self-harm provided a temporary damaging fix for me, meds made it worse. I’d encourage anyone dealing with feelings of depression or suicide to open up. Talk to friends and family. Talk to your GP. Or strangers. But stick with it, and talk. You might be surprised how little people have picked up on, and how much they’ll want to listen. Maybe life will take you down a different path to the one you expected, but that doesn’t mean the future is bleak. There is no shame in being depressed, having mental health concerns, not being able to cope on your own.

Specialist help is available. Try some of the following:


One Response to “Managing Depressions”

  1. tenderlytina August 13, 2014 at 12:07 am #

    Good advice, Stay strong!

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