Robin Williams and The Stigma of Depression

August 12, 2014 10 Comments TAGS: Stress, Wellness

In light of yesterday’s tragedy, I wanted to republish an older post on crushing the stigma of depression. I read online, “Maybe Robin Williams‘ legacy won’t only be the humor he gave us. Maybe it will be that he brought depression to the forefront.”

It feels today as though a bright light has gone out.

IMG_0465.JPG

Photo credit: muppet.wikia.com

By Guest Blogger Daisy

The first time I was diagnosed with depression, I took three weeks off from work but still managed to keep my job. I wasn’t sleeping well at night. Worries kept me awake, and when sleep did come, I’d awaken in a head to toe sweat. Stomach aches every Monday morning, heartburn and headaches Sunday nights. There were too many symptoms to ignore.

Thirteen years later I recognized the symptoms again and went to the doctor. Again, I was able to keep working through it. I’m glad I did– I had a boss who wouldn’t have understood depression, and certainly would have thought less of me for having a mental illness.

But then, between me, my doctor and my family, we decided it was time: time to look into a long-term leave. I needed time to recover and heal, both physically and mentally. It was time to really examine my commitment to my teaching career and whether it could weather this kind of conflict. Most of all, it was time to treat this illness called depression. Before I made any kind of decision on my future, I needed to rest. Rest, recover, and feel healthy again — even on Mondays.

photo credit: rebellesociety.com

Six months ago, in my third depression on record, I needed a lengthy medical leave to get treatment and cope with my illness. I told very few coworkers why I was taking this time off. I didn’t know if my boss would consider depression a personal weakness, perhaps a sign of poor character.

Unfortunately, this stigma prevents many patients from getting the help they need.  Sufferers often fear going public due to fear of “the label,” fear of being mocked or disrespected for suffering with a mental illness. The reason I decided to go public with my depression diagnosis, is to help lessen that stigma. Depression isn’t like the common cold or even influenza. It’s not like a sprain or a break that can be splinted and healed over time. It’s mental illness, not a physical illness (despite the symptoms being physical). Some call mental illnesses “the invisible disabilities.” The illness doesn’t show on the outside, but it hurts like mad on the inside.

photo credit: zazzle.com

As more and more people discuss their diagnoses publicly, that stigma will ease, and more people will seek help. The combination of medication and counseling is often the one-two punch that can overcome a clinical depression – if diagnosed.

If you can identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression. Remember, knowledge is power. And there is help.

Common signs and symptoms of depression

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
  • Loss of interest in daily activities. No interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
  • Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
  • Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).
  • Irritability or restlessness. Feeling agitated, restless, or on edge. Your tolerance level is low; everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
  • Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
  • Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
  • Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
  • Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain. (HelpGuide.org)

I’m lucky. My family understands depression as an illness, and they know what kind of support I need. When I need to rest, they say, “Go” and push me up the stairs to take a nap. When I need a little extra moral support, they’re ready to talk and listen, and when I need to be alone, they allow it — within reason. If I let it slip on Twitter or Facebook that I’m having a rough day, someone often shows up with chocolate, coffee, or conversation and hugs.

together

photo credit: chaindriven.net

This time around for me, unfortunately the standard meds aren’t working. I have good doctors working with me; they’ll eventually find the right combination. While I wait and hope we find a solution sooner, I’ll share a few tips from the heart of a person suffering with depression.

Don’t:

  • Tell the person with depression that “this is just a phase, you’ll snap out of it.”
  • Start or spread rumors
  • Ignore calls for help – literal or figurative.
  • Label the person as “crazy” or “nuts” because their illness is in the brain, not the body.
  • Expect quick or sudden recovery

Do:

  • Recognize that depression is a serious illness that can be treated.
  • When a friend or family member is depressed, offer support by listening to them or bringing them a favorite food.
  • Have compassion. Depression hurts.
  • Remember that recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • If someone near you is depressed and discusses suicide, get help for them immediately.

Sometimes a depression sufferer will lose his/her sense of humor. Me? I get sarcastic. It’s like a scene out of the old show M*A*S*H* when they are facing impossible situations daily, and they cope by joking, often inappropriately. I save my sarcasm for those who will appreciate it; my family and closest friends – most of the time.

But at the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is: a person with depression is a person. A depression sufferer is a person. A victim of depression is a person. This friend of yours, this family member, is still the same person you know, enjoy, and love.

Please help me in knocking this public stigma out of our lexicon and recognize depression for what it is: a treatable illness. Please also help me spread this awareness and knowledge.

And finally, if you feel like you are suffering alone, I urge you to break the silence and get help.

~Daisy

BIO:

Daisy blogs at Compost Happens, a personal blog: part family, part garden, part green eco-writer, part disability advocate.  Daisy traded her classroom teaching for a cubicle and is teaching online.

Have you ever suffered, or know someone suffering with depression?  Can you share tips that helped you work through that difficult period? Please share with our community (even anonymously). The more we know, the more we can help others, and possibly ourselves.

Erica3

    10 Comments

    1. noi that reNo Gravatar says:

      It’s actually a cool and useful piece of information. I’m happy that you just shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

    2. You actually make it appear really easy along with your presentation however I find this topic to be really something which I think I would by no means understand. It kind of feels too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward to your next put up, I will attempt to get the hang of it!

    3. Un jeune de 17 ans, hospitalisé dans un état grave mercredi après-midi après avoir été pris dans une avalanche alors qu’il faisait du ski hors-piste avec son père à la station de Gourette (Pdrénées-Atlantiques), est décédé à l’h?pital de Pau, a-t-on appris auprès de la préfecture. Le décès du jeune,sac prada, originaire de Nantes et transporté dans un état critique après avoir passé plus

    4. Magnificent items from you, man. I have consider your stuff prior to and you’re simply extremely great. I actually like what you have got right here, certainly like what you are saying and the way in which in which you are saying it. You are making it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it wise. I cant wait to read far more from you. That is actually a terrific website.

    5. Pretty great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I’m hoping you write again very soon!

    6. cjcjNo Gravatar says:

      Have you ever hurt yourself physically to point where your eyes tear up?

      That’s the pain that people with depression feel continuously. Unlike a physical hurt, it doesn’t subside. It continues without relief and is a large reason why too many, I believe, choose suicide, as it’s the only way they can see to stop the incessant pain. We’re not faking, we have a handicap, but people can’t see the wheelchair. Please try to manifest compassion for those less fortunate than yourselves.

    7. Da noi in Europa non è antora giunto il primo tapitolo si White Knight Chronitles,Borse Fendi Outlet Italia, the sovrebbe ustire entro la fine sell'anno in torso,Borse Fendi Outlet Italia, ma siamo lieti si annuntiarvi the vi è in lavorazione uffitialmente un sequel,Borse Fendi Outlet Italia, se non assirittura una serie.Antora non si tonostono settagli o notizie più approfonsite ma restate in astolto,Borse Fendi Outlet Italia, potrebbero esserti nuovi sviluppi e noi vi

    8. DaisyNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you, Erica, for letting my words speak again. I am one of the lucky ones; no matter how deep my depressions, I have not wanted to hurt myself or die. I am still teaching online and loving my work. Whenever I can, I take additional training so that I can recognize the danger signs of depression in my students and move them toward the help they need.

      Robin Williams was an amazing man. His legacy of humor and drama will live on.

    9. I have also struggled with depression most of my adult life. Now that I have chronic pain, I am more likely to be depressed more often. I am taking medication to help combat my depression but it doesn’t always work. Getting sleep is very important, I know my sleep sucks and I often wake up unrefreshed. I highly suggest that if you are struggling to talk to someone, a trusted friend, counselor, or doctor. I would rather be a mom that takes medication than for depression to go untreated.

      I also heard that untreated depression can lead to Alzheimers. I wish I remember where I saw that.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

PARTNERS