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The Last Stage of Robin Williams' Disease

The Last Stage of Robin Williams' Disease

Stashed in: Robin Williams, Depression

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Depression is not well understood, especially by people who don't have it.

I tried explaining that Robin Williams was sick, as it was well known that he suffered from Bi-Polar Disorder and Depression, as well as suffering from alcoholism and drug abuse. The old friend went on to suggest that Williams should have just taken his millions to "go anywhere, do anything, party it up with women and drugs," etc., as if all of this fleeting materialism would somehow take away his pain.

I tried to get the old friend to understand by using my go-to comparison in this conversation. I asked, "Well, what if it was cancer?" His answer came back like a clichèd line from an after-school special. He proclaimed, "Well,that you can't help!"

And therein, my friends, lies the problem in our dialogue on mental illness.

The term "mental illness" almost seems new to us, as if it's only been thrown around for the last decade or so. And to many, the diagnoses of such an ailment seems like pseudoscience. Yet, we can find descriptions of the symptoms associated with mental illness as far back as in the writings of the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, and modern medical science has been aware of the chemical imbalances in the brain at the root of these disorders for over sixty years. So why all the misunderstanding?


Most people simply do not understand that their experience of extreme sadness during a few months of unemployment or after a death in the family is really akin to catching a bad cold; whereas having a Major Depressive Disorder is akin to being told that the tumor in your chest may not be benign.

Remember that Robin Williams died because he lost his battle with Depression. He had a disease, and the disease killed him.

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