The world seemed surprised, even shocked, at the suicide of Robin Williams. To those of us who have suffered from depression, it seems an all too familiar scenario. I have suffered from clinical depression all my life, and if it had not been for shock treatments I would have ended my life long ago. I will always be grateful to the doctor who suggested shock treatments and the doctor who performed them on me, because they did save my life.
I am a writer. But even as a wordsmith I cannot tell you what depression is like. There are simply no words to describe it. Those of you who have had a “blue” or a “down” day, and think you are depressed, have no concept of what clinical depression is like. It is common for people to commiserate with someone who is ill, “Oh, I know how you feel.” If you have never suffered from real depression, and I pray to God you won’t, you have no concept of what it is like to live with depression on a daily basis.
If you can visualize this, let me say that on the sunniest, most delightful day to normal people, it is a gray, gloomy, and dark day to one who is in the grips of clinical depression. And consider that this goes on for day after day, year after year. The depressed one just wants to sit in a corner with a blanket over his or her head and wish the world would end. Is it any wonder that sufferers from depression turn to drugs or alcohol for some relief? But those are only temporary spurts of relief. And, of course, they lead to even deeper problems for the depressed.
There are many prescribed drugs to treat depression, but for the deeply depressed they finally refuse to work. We will never know if Robin Williams received shock treatments. If he did not, it is a travesty that lies at the feet of his doctors. If he did, and even they did not give him relief, then God speed, Robin. We will miss you, but you took the only way out and those of us who suffered with you – we understand.