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.