The recent suicide of comedian and actor Robin Williams has once again put the spotlight on the illness of depression.
Although there was an outpouring of kind words and sympathy for Robin Williams and his family, there were a few misguided voices suggesting his suicide was cowardly and selfish.
I think these are the voices of people who have no idea how serious and debilitating depression is. For someone like Robin, who suffered from depression most of his adult life, the mental anguish had become more than he could bear. Ending his life was more bearable than living it.
For those who are feeling depressed, it’s often hard to communicate the depths of suffering and pain they are experiencing. Everything looks normal on the outside, and so family and friends often assume the depressed person will just snap out of it. Those with depression will feel shame, guilt and embarrassment about their “weakness” and inability to get over it.
Although there is increasing education and awareness around the illness, there’s still a stigma attached to depression that makes it hard for sufferers to be open and seek help when they need it. There are many myths and misunderstandings about the illness that foster a code of unnecessary silence.