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Williams death a reminder about depression

August 12, 2014 - Paul Giannamore
Followers of my page on Facebook (I hope you do follow me at!/PabloGatHeraldStarDailyTimes) are forgiven if they don't want to hear much more from me on this topic today.

I was not shocked by the death of Robin Williams at his own hand.

Saddened? Most definitely.

But knowing his struggles with depression, which were compounded by substance abuse issues throughout his life, it didn’t shock me. When it comes to depression by itself, I get it.

Those close to him say he was undergoing a deep depression in recent days.

He was able to make light of the demon that is depression most of the time. Anyone who saw his commentary about how he dealt with his issues left smiling and amazed, I figure. He said anything that can be laughed at can still be scary, but it can be dealt with.

One could approach so much of life that way, from crazy idiots on the highway to cancer, and live a better life.

I don’t have the substance abuse issues that compounded his depression, but I’ve been in that dark hole where the light at the top is shrinking and it looks as if living as a mole will be your lot in life. Sometimes, not wanting to be a mole wins, and I think Williams’ character was just too big to live as a mole.

Watch those around you. No, no, not for unattended baggage or an unzipped fly or spinach between the teeth, though good friends do point out that kind of stuff.

Watch attitudes. Normally fun-loving people who suddenly turn sullen, who stop talking, who don’t take part in those normal activities that used to be part of life, are possibly heading into the mole-hole with that dark demon known as depression. Sometimes, it’s the biggest characters in your life who are suffering the most and hiding behind that room-filling light they bring.

If you are feeling disconnected, angry, unable to relate and uncaring about people and things that used to bring you pleasure, you could be headed to life as a contemplative monk who finds the world’s ways distasteful. For most of us, though, those are big-time signs of depression, especially if it continues for a couple of weeks.

Talking to a professional helps. Admitting you’ve got a problem is no sign of weakness. Among celebrities, successes including, the late “60 Minutes” stalwart Mike Wallace and actor Joe Pantoliano have tales of depression in their lives. Pantoliano continues to speak and write about his experiences, and Wallace offered a detailed discussion of depression before he passed away in 2012, thankfully of old age.

Do not go one more day in that dark place. Call a professional hotline, seek a clergyman, discuss your feelings with your most-trusted friend. Yes, it will feel to you as if you’re admitting life has beaten you. But it hasn’t. You do have something to offer. You need a rope to pull you out of the mole hole. Robin Williams stopped feeling as if his life mattered to all of us. But I am glad he stuck around long enough to bring us “Patch Adams” and “Good Morning Vietnam” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Aladdin” and all the dramas and all the stand-up and crazy interviews and “Mork and Mindy.” Imagine how much less a world it would be if he had succeeded in ending his life as a much younger man, how much of his gift we wouldn’t have seen.

His life did have purpose in making others happy. And it’s sad that he couldn’t keep on seeing that and he didn’t have the ability to make himself feel the smiles he brought the world. No one else has the gifts of Robin Williams, but we all have the chance to change our corner of the world.


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