The Puzzling Ending to Lives of Depression…
I, as well as much of the rest of the world, was shocked to hear of Robin Williams death by suicide. The man who many remembered coming onto the scene with comedic genius on Mork and Mindi, the endearing role of Mrs. Doubtfire, and the compelling award winning performance, my favorite, of therapist Sean Maguire challenged to work with street-kid, math genius Will Hunting (Matt Damon) in Good Will Hunting, is dead.
How could this happen?
After such a tragedy, many ask the question, “how could such a thing happen?” In Robin Williams case, extraordinary humor hid deep emotional pain/depression with resultant substance abuse, and, ultimately, death. His humor, presented in a style that appeared like ADHD one-liners powered by steroids, would belie what was going on beneath the surface. In the general population, many have found their own version of “cover,” that masks the emotion that haunts and fuels depressive hopelessness. That the actor was able to check himself into rehab as he heeded the warning signs, was effective, to the extent that his life was prolonged up until last week.
Cognitive distortions, also known as lies in the belief system, can lead to feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness.
That Mr. Williams was not able to overcome and conquer his demons is representative of the power of depression, and demonstrative of the continuing need for prioritizing research and effective treatment into this emotional disorder. Thus, the answer to this question continues a confounding one.
What do “regular” depressed people do?
The deaths of celebrities capture the headlines, while, “regular” people struggle with the same emotions and symptoms that accompany depression. Depression is a medical condition that is combination chemistry, life events and circumstances, temperament and personality. Pharmaceutical companies continue to research and develop products to address depression, as well as other mood disorders. A treatment approach that may combine medication, individual and group psychotherapy, nutrition, and exercise promote an “anti-depressive” lifestyle strategy to more effectively manage the depressive phenomena more effectively. Faith based approaches that include clergy/chaplains and church community also provide needed support for depressed individuals.
We have heard phrases like, “depression is a permanent solution to a, temporary problem.” I might adjust the latter part of that phrase to “…current state of (depressed)being,” to which we want the person to experience a “different (improved) state of being.” It has also been said that isolation is the enemy of the depressed individual, allowing the person to be alone in their depressed thoughts and hopeless perspective.
A key to the prevention of a suicidal occurrence is for the individual to develop their network, and safety net, of friends and resources.
A Few Suggestions
- If feeling depressed, schedule an assessment by a trained behavioral health professional.
- If diagnosed with depression, attend regular therapy sessions, as well as maintain compliance with any prescribed antidepressant medications. Keep readily available contact numbers for therapist/psychiatrist
- Maintain contact numbers to call or text family, friends, other supports.
- Contact numbers for crisis hotlines, ie. locally, Holly Hill Hospital 919 250 7000, and
- Nationally, www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org with phone number- 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or on-line chat. 911 is always available, and will alert trained First Responders
- Avoidance of alcohol which is a sedative hypnotic, and central nervous system depressant, as well as lowers inhibitions, also other drugs that are not prescribed with a controlled dosage level.
Trained staff at Miller Counseling Services are available, and willing to help navigate through mood disorders like depression, and others. Please continue to visit our website for helpful tips for healthiness.
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or emergency, please call 911 or visit your local hospital and ask for the psychiatrist on call. If you are in the Raleigh-Durham North Carolina area, please call Holly Hill Respond Line at 919-250-7000.
Mr. David Wiley, MS, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor at Miller Counseling Services. He has practiced in a variety of behavioral health settings in the Triangle area of North Carolina since 1981, including innovative approaches to substance abuse and chronic pain management, crisis intervention, as well as working with relationship issues with couples and families. Areas of interest, and expertise include: mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, substance abuse education/screening/outpatient follow-up, ADD/ADHD, relationship/premarital/marital counseling along with co-therapy, stress/pain management including biofeedback modality, life transition issues especially with college students as well as older adults, adolescent counseling.