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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

Dealing with Bipolar Disorder, Depression and Anxiety

To deal with bipolar disorder(manic depressive) loneliness, (sadness) depression and anxiety (panic attacks) is not an easy thing to do.

Concept of Bipolar DisorderSometimes people may feel that everything is lost, and they have no recourse to change the way they are feeling. Take a deep breath and walk out the front door can open up many opportunities for one, and can provide better feelings in no time.

One out of three people has experienced a sense of loneliness and depression, and some of them cannot even say what is making them feel this way. These feelings can stop people in their tracks, making them unable to function in their daily lives.

Here are some ways to chase the loneliness and depression away, and then, perhaps enjoy each and every day as they come.

The main thing a person should try to figure out is what things are making them feel the way they do in the first place. Feeling lonely can be as straightforward as not having anyone around them to interact with on a regular basis. Sometimes one can be around people and still feel lonely, and in order not to feel this way, try to find out why.

Being depressed can happen to anybody, and the reasons for it varied from person to person. Being lonely can lead to becoming depressed, but they do not always go hand in hand. Feeling tense and despondent happens when we cannot deal with things in life at the moment, and we feel that there is no hope to getting past that.

Once a person has identified some of the reasons why he or she are feeling the way they do, they can begin to seek out ways to make they feel better. Certainly, one of the ways folks can utilize is taking medication to help get rid of the sad feelings they have. This is not for everyone. Consult with a doctor to determine if it is right, before taking any medication.

Using herbal solutions can be an acceptable substitute to using traditional medication. Going to a health store can provide many excellent options for taking a natural approach to your depressed state of mind. The people who work there can be extremely helpful in finding the legal remedies that will work best.

Another great way to get rid of the blues is to make an appointment with some mental health specialist in your area. Sometimes talking things out with someone totally distanced from one’s life, can give the opportunity to work out some of what is bothering a person. These professionals provide a safe environment for all and do not represent a condescending or judgmental point of view.

If folks do not want to take any medications to help them, there are some basic things they can do that may work in conjunction with taking to a professional. Putting oneself amongst friends is an excellent way to shake off the lonely feelings. It will also help with depressed thoughts. Going outdoors and experiencing different environments is also helpful.

Read also: Bipolar Disorder Myths (Demystifying of myths) (Article by Bruce Anderson)

Twelve Days of Seasonal Depression

The Twelve Days of Seasonal Depression – and How to Survive Them

Happy New Year, fellow freaks!

Congratulations on surviving the holidays. This time of year is rough on lots of folks. It’s so bad that psychologists actually had to come up with the term Seasonal Affective Disorder to give a label to the depression many people feel during this time of year. Statistically speaking, more people commit suicide during the holidays than any other time of year.

Bi-polar-2In case you can’t think of a good reason to be bummed, here’s a list. In fact, since we’re all so freakin’ festive, let’s sing it!

The Twelve Days of Holiday Depression (opus 42)

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

  • Twelve pounds of gained weight
  • Eleven in-laws bitching
  • Ten hours of sunlight (if I’m lucky)
  • Nine days snowed-in
  • Eight (eight, I forget what eight was for)
  • Seven months of payments on my…
  • Six maxed-out credit cards, and (deep breath)
  • FIVE EXISTENTIAL CRISES wherein I wonder if I’m celebrating for no reason other than to pad some corporation’s bottom line because there just might not be a God after all and this one life might be all I get and I’m wasting it just like my mother always said I would after I dropped out of law school to become an artist and now I have to look her in the eye and tell her “sorry, I couldn’t afford to get you anything this year, but I hand-painted you a card and no, it’s not supposed to be a fish, it’s supposed to be a Christmas tree so I guess you were right all along, so I think I’ll have cup after cup of eggnog until the gift you find under the tree tomorrow will be me, face down in a pool of my own vomit, but what the hell, it’s not like it matters anyway because Santa was a lie you told to get me to behave which makes me wonder if God might be one toooooo! (Pant… pant… pant…)
  • Four calling birds (birds piss me off, OK?)
  • Three French hens (enough with the damn birds, already!)
  • Two turtle doves (See? My TRUE LOVE gave me BIRDS! It’s like she doesn’t even KNOW me!)
  • And a partridge in a pear tree (sigh)

To make matters worse, you could be singing about all these things your true love got you and be single… on Christmas… again. So, now that we’ve had our little sing-along, here’s a bullet list for people who don’t have time for such silliness.

88% Nonsense-Free Checklist of Causes of Seasonal Depression (v2.0)Bipolar?

  • Weight gain leads to lowered self-esteem
  • Debt due to holiday overspending
  • Cabin Fever due to cold weather conditions
  • Stress (due to shopping, family, travel, debt, etc.)
  • Little exposure to sunlight
  • Religious doubt
  • Loneliness
  • Alienation, feeling like an outsider
  • Birds

If even “normal” people tend to get the blues in the winter, just think of how it can affect someone with bipolar disorder! With all of these forces conspiring to make angst the reason for the season, what can you do to avoid the deluge of yuletide despair?

  1. Set a spending limit. Does Uncle Frank in Hoboken, New Jersey really need that 88” plasma TV? Didn’t he get you a bird last year? Send him a more reasonably-priced gift. Don’t have an anxiety attack over whether or not you spent the same amount on someone as they spent on you. That’s not the point! If he or she is the kind of jerk who is going to judge you based on how much you spent on their gift, well… that’s one less person to buy for next year, now isn’t it?
  2. Take time off from shopping to talk with friends and family. Instead of buying someone a gift that will most likely “accidentally” get thrown out with the wrapping paper, take them out to dinner or a movie, something you BOTH can enjoy. Chances are, they need a break from shopping, family, etc. too.
  3. Slow down! Admit that you are human and cannot possibly attend each of the seventeen Christmas events in four different countries you’ve been invited to. Go ONE place Christmas Eve, and ONE place Christmas Day.
  4. Buy full-spectrum light bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs may be more energy-efficient, but they can completely suck your will to live. Full-spectrum bulbs are special bulbs used in light therapy treatments. They produce light that is nearly identical to sunlight. Natural light will work WONDERS for your mood. Seriously. I can’t stress this enough. FULL-SPECTRUM LIGHT BULBS. I keep one in my bedside lamp year-round.
  5. If you live someplace with terrible winters, get out of the house BEFORE the storm hits and again as soon as the roads are clear. Facebook will be there when you get back. I promise.
  6. If you ARE snowed in with your family, play in the snow. It’s exercise, which is good for your mood anyway. Consider having a snowball fight. It’ll relieve some of that pent-up frustration. If you live alone, launch a surprise snowball attack on an unsuspecting neighbor. The ensuing chase will provide a few extra moments of fun, and hey, technically, the police count as having company. Make sure to have plenty of cocoa on hand.
  7. Buy a cat. Petting a cat can lower your stress level. Your partridge, on the other hand, will not be pleased.

These are only a few ideas I’ve got on how to beat the wintertime blues. Can you think of any? If so, let us know in the comments section below. If they’re serious suggestions, great! We can use the help. If they’re silly, great! We can ALWAYS use a laugh. When it comes to depression, laughter might just be the best medicine.

Until next time, keep warm, and keep fighting!

-Bruce Anderson

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