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Robin Williams – Another Life Lost Through Mental Illness

Another Life Lost Through Mental Illness

I recently wrote about “Celebrities and Bipolar Disorder,” many of whom are also drug addicts, alcoholics and suicide victims – but the recent death of Robin Williams has brought the issue of other mental health disorders including depression – and suicide to the front of my mind once again.

Of course, you know that Robin Williams died of “asphyxiation” – notable suicide by hanging. At first we were shocked, then sad as a great talent was lost. In a few days, many people will become angry at him. Many people don’t understand depression; some don’t even believe it exists.

Robin Williams - Depression KillsRobin – and I call him that purposefully rather than the more proper journalistic reference “Mr. Williams” or simply “Williams” – has made an impact on my life and that of my children. Like many people, I felt like I knew him. I haven’t seen all of the 80 movies he was in, but my personal favorites were the movies that were not comedies. He was a gifted actor and a tremendously funny man.

I said I “felt” like I knew him – but I didn’t. My children “feel” like they knew him – but they didn’t. I don’t know much about his childhood – other than that he was raised in a family where, though there was probably plenty of money, he spent most of his time with nannies or alone. He obviously had a brain that never quit – which leads me to believe he may have had ADHD, he certainly had troubles with substance abuse and he had periods of severe depression, one of which led to his death.

People are already questioning why such a talented man – who had given so much – would “go and do something like that.” Many of those people will feel like he was selfish – as many people feel like suicide is the ultimate in narcissism. Under all that hilarity, under all that spectacle, under all that talent, was a seriously sad man.

Never mind what we don’t know about his childhood, over the course of his life he had great success and tremendous loss, with the making of fortune and fame and the loss of loved ones and money. He ultimately chose to end the pain himself.

Metally Ill - Robin WilliamsDepression is not something that can be shared and Robin was a “smiler.” Even in my life, though I am not a “smiler” – when I am having great difficulty, I do not contact the people who matter. I do not call my friends; I do not call my family; I sit in my difficulties alone.

Like many comedians, Robin learned to be funny to cover pain and to cover loneliness – and to get attention that he craved. Mental illness is difficult to understand and even though we mourn his loss – we should reflect on who in our lives might be feeling the same pain.

Maybe – likely not, but maybe, if he had the kind of support he needed, if he had not felt like he always needed to be “on” he would not have felt the despair so strongly. Maybe if mental illness and substance abuse weren’t still stigmatized, maybe he could have gotten the help he needed.

Maybe, but maybe not.

Another famous actor – once said in a famous movie – “Momma says that dyin’ is a part of livin’… I wish that it wasn’t.” Unfortunately, some people feel they must choose to die early. Robin did.

Melissa Lind

Another famous actor died because of mental illness

You Mean I’m NOT Bipolar?

It turns out that I’m NOT bipolar

Hello again, boys and girls!  I’m back, and I’ve got some news.  Take a look at the title of this article again and I’ll give you three guesses.

That’s right.  It turns out that I’m NOT bipolar.  Oh, don’t worry.  I’m still as crazy as I always was, and it’s the same kind of crazy, but different.
What do I mean by that?  Well, I still play on the old mood swing set – back and forth, back and forth – but it turns out that it’s not due to brain chemistry.  It’s just who I am.

Borderline Personality Disorder - Eternal ConflictYou want something to be depressed about?  Well, there you go.  Being told that my issues aren’t something that a couple of little pills each day can “fix,” being told that recovery is going to be a long, hard, and lonely road… well, that’s a much harder pill to swallow.

Thinking back, I can see why it was so easy to diagnose me with Bipolar Disorder.  I had the high highs and the low lows, but here’s the major difference: when I have a mood swing, there is ALWAYS a reason.  I’m never just sitting around, happy as a clam, then BOOM!  Here comes the despair.  It was always some event, or some lack of event, that set the old swing in motion.

If you’re bipolar, circumstances don’t always change the mood, though the mood can certainly change the circumstances.  Not for me.
Always a reason.  Sometimes, a legitimate one, but not always.  Sometimes, I make the reason.  If you’re Bipolar, the mood swings just happen.

That’s not the case with Borderline Personality Disorder.

Eww… just the sound of it is bad.  Personality disorder.  The words slip from the tongue like a big, fat slug.  It’s not chemistry.  It’s who I am.  There’s not a problem with my brain, but a problem with me as a person.  Talk about depressing.

But when you get right down to it, it’s all still faulty wiring.  It’s just that my wiring wasn’t messed up by God, it was messed up by other people.  It wasn’t messed up at birth, but shortly thereafter.

Well… the jury is still out on what causes Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
There may be a genetic component, but most likely, it’s caused by some childhood trauma.  And trust me, I’ve got plenty. We’ll talk about that next time.

Your brother in arms,

Bruce

Read more from Bruce Anderson here: How I Became the Freak in the Corner

(A page that tells his story from the beginning and has links to several of his articles)

More about BPD here: Borderline Videos”