When someone like Robin Williams takes his own life, we know that there is something else happening, something more powerful bubbling away under the surface. When Patch Adams and Mrs. Doubtfire…the man who made millions of us laugh, can no longer live with himself, never mind his beautiful family, then we must know, beyond a doubt, that there are dark, unseen forces at work in this world.
Forget the word depression for a second and think about a different word instead – fear. The mistake people make is thinking that depression means closing the curtains, slumping in your bed and crying for the day. Like there are many different types of people in this world, there are also many different types of feelings.
Every time the topic of depression comes to the fore, someone will always write a blog post about how we should talk to someone and we shouldn’t suffer alone etc. That’s absolutely true, but it’s also the same as telling someone with anorexia to eat a ham sandwich.
This is not a post for the people with depression, it’s for the people that are sad and anxious but don’t know why. It’s for the people who wake in the morning worried and scared…butterflies in their stomach…but unsure of why. There’s a hole in their life where happiness should be. They may be married and have kids…they may have enough money in the bank. “I can’t talk to anyone,” they think. “If I don’t know what’s wrong with me, how the hell are they supposed to know?”
The one thing that I do know about people who are sad and don’t know why. Or who are scared but don’t know what of. They start to forget how important they are to other people. That’s something that we should never let them forget.
We all make mistakes and we all have things that we worry about first thing at morning and last thing at night. But we have all become experts at putting on a happy face. I think I would be safe in saying that Robin Williams was a grandmaster of that particular skill.
If you scroll through all these blog posts you will see a recurring theme – we are all essentially the same, and we are all basically leading the same lives. Robin Williams wasn’t immune to sadness just because he had a beautiful family and millions in the bank. When you strip all that away, he was just a man with the same fragile mind as the rest of us.
Instead of asking people with “depression” to talk to someone, I’m asking everyone else to get the ball rolling. We don’t know what painful truths that people are hiding and we don’t know what keeps them awake at night but we can help in our own little way. If they are strangers, we can smile at them on the street or help them with their bags. If they are our friends, then we can invite them for tea and a scone, or just start a conversation via one of the many different means that are available to us these days.
We are all in this together. We all get bills and letters from the bank. If we were to talk about it, we would realise that we all share some common problems, except some are better at ignoring them than others. We are all in this together and we can’t afford to lose one another.
I can’t offer anyone advice because, frankly, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I come from the school of thought that says “Make someone feel better by showing them your problems and crying together.” I really can’t stress this enough – we are all on the same team, sometimes winning and sometimes losing. No advice from me, but I will make a request if you will allow me that. Start a conversation with someone who you haven’t heard from in a while. Worried about someone? Bring them out for lunch. If they say no, then ask again tomorrow.