A cracked polystyrene man. Who just crumbles and burns.

Robin Williams’ passing is just terribly sad on many levels. Not going to get into most of them as I’d like to concentrate on the politicization of his death and hopefully provide some perspective for people.

The next time I hear someone say, “Robin Williams could have just chosen to be happy,” I’m going to start windmilling hammer fists until the cops show up. The presumption that clinical depression stems from lack of effort or unawareness or the wrong type of effort is just plain false. The majority of depressed individuals are acutely fucking aware that they’re unhappy every waking moment of every day. They’re endeavoring each day to feel happy. But a “mindset change” isn’t going to do the trick for the vast majority of sufferers.  I’m typically wary of “common sense solutions” to complex problems and have written a bit about it here and Marianne has here. One of the problems with applying a trite solution is that it ignores the myriad of different illnesses and treats them all the same. It also treats all people identically. Those are horrible assumptions.

Some people I see advocating for people they know little about to change their attitude are applying their beliefs to a medical issue. When someone proceeds in this fashion they are showing they don’t care about results, only process. I feel the opposite. I do not care how someone who is suffering gets better. I only care they get better. Medication, talk therapy, attitude change, exercise, meditation, whatever works for each individual. I will not trivialize their suffering and I will not TELL them how to do it.  This is about a person’s life not a validation of one’s belief.  Those utilizing political/social agendas by saying nonsense like “PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY” or “THE PUSSIFICATION OF AMERICA” or Rush Limbaugh saying “negativity is a hallmark of the left”. These illnesses know no ideology or tribe or political orientation. To say otherwise seems borderline-sociopathic.

Other people (who should know better) try to tell those suffering  the path they took is the only right path and what didn’t work for them are per se wrong. This is straight up narcissism trying to obtain validation.  If Anti-depressants didn’t work for you but meditation and exercise did, great!  Telling people not to try medication or therapy or any of the myriad of options because it didn’t work for you? NOT COOL. Again, this is not results-oriented and is instead process-oriented. It’s also another pathetic attempt for validation. One could share their own experiences without imposing their values. It’s a question of phrasing, really.

So there’s a simple fucking solution to this. Stop telling people what to do and listen. Sublimate your fervent beliefs to try to ensure that this person gets help. Don’t close doors or paths. Open them.

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3 thoughts on “A cracked polystyrene man. Who just crumbles and burns.

  1. Mari here 🙂 Mike and I have discussed this topic at length over the years. When Robin Williams committed Suicide due to Depression it re-ignited our conversation and our thoughts. I agree with what Mike wrote but want to further reiterate the importance of accepting every coping method an individual feels comfortable with. I tire of people celebrating their “end all” method of self improvement and believe their way is the best way for others. We only know what is best for oneself. As a person who has struggled with my own mental deficiencies I am confident there is no “one cure all”. I have written about my struggles with anxiety and when a person tells me to not be anxious or to relax I laugh inside. Of course our rational mind tells us not to be anxious, sad, or excitable. However a person truly struggling with improper serotonin cannot just hit the stop button. I had an amazing friend who chose to take her own life. She was beautiful, smart and a mother. She had friends and a good job. She needed help and the people around her (myself included) did not give her the proper support. We never know who is reading our posts or considering options when they interact with us. If we give absolute ideas based on our own experiences(or lack thereof) we may have alienated a friend/coworker/stranger who was looking for empathy. We MUST be kind and most important stop talking!! Stop imploring people to look at our success during a bright moment, rather humble ourselves to when our hardships were the most prevalent. People are listening. People are having a difficult time and our job as humans is to lift and offer understanding to those who need us!

  2. No one listens any more. My friends all talk about themselves no matter how hard I look them in the eye when I need t talk or need to vent. For some reason, babbling on and on diverts the problem and most people must think it sharpens one’s focus to see it “their way” which must be “the better way.” What ever happened to good old fashioned listening skills followed by the answer, ” I love you. Let’s go get some help now.”

    • Agreed, Diane. It’s the opposite of what we are taught and should teach, whether it’s called the golden rule or karma or being a decent human being.

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