Thoughts on Depression and Why You Shouldn’t Label It as Cowardice

In the midst of Robin Williams’ death many have resorted to calling him a coward for committing suicide. They cite his fame, money, and general public love and approval as reason enough to not have committed suicide, while failing to see that depression goes deeper than that.

I’m no expert on depression so I can only speak from my experience:

My brother died when I was 7 years old and he was 10. He’s the only thing I’ve ever loved more than myself and I got to watch his life be taken away by a careless driver. I was literally sad for years and thinking of him still makes me sad. In fact, sometimes I observe close siblings and I feel jealousy and resentment. But the only thing worse than losing my brother at that age was my mother’s reaction to it.

She, unlike me, was unable to keep on living. She resorted to living off welfare programs. Her health began to deteriorate and was soon diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder. Living with her was ,more often than not, a nightmare. No amount of love, company, therapy, or support seemed to tame her mood swings and crying spells. A long time diabetic, and yet she ate carelessly and often forgot her insulin injections. I began to resent her because I too deserved a mom and instead was charged with fending for myself emotionally, academically, and financially. So much was the pressure of living with her that the first chance I got to move out, I did and have not gone back since. At times I felt like I too would go insane. Eventually I let go of that resentment as I began to understand more and more about depression.

But since I’m no expert I’ll quote Harvard Health Journal on the complexity of depression:

“Research suggests that depression doesn’t spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, depression has many possible causes, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. It’s believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression.”

The point I’m trying to make, is that depression is not a choice and until you have been diagnosed with depression and are chained to therapy and eternal medication you cannot pass judgment on how “cowardly” a suicide or any other behavior is. Depression is NOT the same as temporarily feeling sad over a current situation, and some people are better chemically equipped to deal with such life events than others. All the money in the world, and all the love in the world may still prove incapable of alleviating the chemical imbalances and procedures of the brain that cause depression.

Rest in peace Robin Williams…




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