Robin Williams, 63, was a charismatic, beyond witty, and brilliant man. He spent his life making us all laugh. But at what cost?
“When people say they are depressed on a daily basis, they usually mean that they are sad. It is clear that the word “depressed” has lost some of its meaning, which has led to some of the stigma surrounding it. However, Williams was suffering from the major illness depression, according to his family members and representatives.” (Source) 
His struggle ended quietly on Monday August 11, 2014 at his home, where he died by hanging himself with his belt. 
Today let’s lift the layers away from the stigma of depression and mental illness. And discuss how it has touched our own lives. You know it has more than touched mine. 
When people tell a depressed person that they should get over it or pull themselves up by the bootstraps, they are adding fuel to an already growing fire. 
And now it has taken yet another of our most beloved and creative actors. Who was also a husband and father.
What led up to this is not Robin Williams’s fault. He did not ask for it. He did not want it. He could not make it go away. 


Robin Williams gave us years of laughter. But behind that was something he was simply not able to deal with any longer. May he rest in peace.



Now let’s look at this difficult subject. Has your life been affected by suicide? Have you lost a loved one, a parent, a sibling, a friend? 
Do you suffer from depression? Or another mental illness? Is your husband, child, sibling, parent, or friend a victim of this disease?
Today, let’s open the doors to understanding and the willingness to listen and not judge. 
Now it is your turn.



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  1. My daughters friend hung herself last September. She was only 15. Her parents were both detrimental in her life and when one heard about the circumstances of her brief life, it is not at all surprising that she ended her pain. I have never cried so much in my life. That a child felt they could not go on devastates me. She deserved better. Perhaps her death woke many people up to the reality that just because someone smiles and laughs does not mean they are not carrying around tremendous, unbearable pain.

  2. It's true, for a lot of people comfort and peace are found in God. I am a Christian and I certainly hold on to my own faith in good times and bad. However, as Brenda said, what is being discussed here is different. I have been through times of distress and had PTSD after a bank robbery, but not this disease. I went through a time when often times on my commute to work, I would think "if I just ran this car into a tree, all this would be over." It's difficult to even type that! But, it passed. Mental illness in any form is a horrible thing. And it doesn't pass. It's heartbreaking to watch. My prayers go out to those who suffer from it, and those who love the sufferers.

  3. I know this will most likely offend, but did it ever occur to some people that there are non-believers? And just because they do not believe in a higher power or pray to God, that does not mean they are doomed to suffer with their illness. Please people, think before you start preaching.

  4. Oh, I am so happy that you decided to comment and give us all this information! I am so glad your daughter seems to be functioning well and is healthy and happy! We need all the help and info we can get here! I thank you for adding your story.

  5. It took me all day to decide if I should comment here as there have been so many moving stories already. What I want to tell any one with a mental illness or someone caring for a loved one who is mentally ill is to not give up. Do not settle for doctors or medicines that are sub par.Yes resources are scarce but if you don't give up and and forge ahead you can find both the right doctors and the right medicine. My (now 23 year old) daughter was diagnosed as Bi-Polar in her late teens. She was given a plethora of medicines (over 12 different ones multiple times a day) and the side effects were almost worse than her mania. In spite of the meds she tried suicide twice. It's through my association with NAMI that I found a psychiatrist who I believe saved her life. She is now on 2 meds, once a day. She works full time, has friends and is healthy and happy as I have ever seen her. Please, please don't give up on yourself or you loved one. Things can be better and look hard, help is out there. NAMI has support groups for caregivers and the ill person as well as classes. They are a national organization and can give you information about chapters near you. It's a wonderful support resource.

  6. Two years ago my Uncle shot and killed my Aunt and then shot himself. I am still in shock over the incident. We always knew him to be so health-conscious, young minded ~~ they walked 3 miles every morning, gave blood every 3 or 4 months, were loving parents and grandparents. We think it began when my Aunt had a bout of pneumonia and ended up in the hospital. They were in their 70's. He had never done grocery shopping on his own, or had to clean the entire house or do laundry. He did all the yard work and car maintenance, etc. When she was in the hospital I believe he started to think about their health and what life might become if they lost their good health. He became very depressed quite quickly. His BP went up and at a Dr. visit they put him on BP meds and also prescribed a drug for depression. However, he never had any counseling along w/ the drug. Within 2 months he had become a different person. I called my Aunt one evening and we chatted and she seemed as if everything was good and things had settled down. Later that night he killed her and then himself. I still have nightmares about how she became part of this deed he did. Did she know he was contemplating this? Did he just out of the blue shoot her? I have come to forgive him. I was so angry with what he had done ~~ more to my Aunt than to himself, but I had to forgive him for my own sake. But it is important to know that depression CAN come on rather quickly. Some suffer depression for many many years, and others come to it later in life.
    When I worked for a Health Insurance company, I remember hearing members calling in about a family member with a mental health diagnosis, and upon hearing the limited benefits mandated by the State and Feds, would often say they wished their loved one had cancer or heart disease. Someone above mentioned that in the UK there are limited beds and waiting lists. PLEASE KNOW that this is also true in the U.S. There are so many people w/ mental health diagnosis and simply not enough facilities to handle their care. It should be no different than a diagnosis of cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. It is an illness and no one would tell someone with any of those other diagnosis to move on or snap out of it. That is ridiculous.
    This has been a wonderful topic, Brenda. As you can see, it hits too close to home for too many. Perhaps part of Robin Williams' legacy will be that he helped open a nation-wide/ world-wide dialogue to make people realize the seriousness of this situation and help bring about a change. If only…………………

    1. Oh Chris, I'm so sorry. What a tragedy you have suffered. Yes, it is not that easy here to get help either. Perhaps if you had a "more acceptable" disease? How tragic to know that people wished their loved one had cancer or heart disease, because of the lack of facilities and care. How futile it must feel to have doors slammed in your face because of the mandates of the State and Feds. When is this country going to wake up, somehow force our legislators to stop catering to big corporations and lobbyists, and do what they were hired to do. Help the people. Makes me so sad. Thanks for commenting on this and adding your story.

  7. Robin Williams was on television once talking about substance abuse. It was the most brilliant interview I've ever seen on TV. Off the top of is head, it appeared, he vividly explained the reasons one starts, what the difficulties are when trying to stop and dealing with the little voice inside one's head that says, "Oh, one won't hurt." I thought at the time that he could help leagues of addicts with a book or lectures about what he had been through because it actually helps people trying to quit to have a role model. He was so wonderful.

    1. We are here to help one another. If you need more, please seek it out. I haven't seen my grandchildren in a long time. I don't know what they think, or what they've been told. I can only hope that one day, I will see them again.

  8. Brenda this is a wonderful topic. It is apparent that many of us needed to share here and I am stunned by the amount of people that are suffering silently at the hands of depression. It is such a prevalent disease. I fight it every day and especially of late. Reading through these lovely post, I have tears in my eyes of gratitude. For all the readers that share, thank you because it helps all of us. I will keep reading here for strength as I fight my own battle.
    When I was 8 my Fathers died in front of us on the living room floor of a heart attack. Not long after one of my very lovely Uncles called to tell me he would always be there for me in life. We had a great conversation about love of a family and how he would now consider himself a father figure for me. The next day he shot himself to death. It turns out he was suffering from depression, and was also facing a long term illness just as Robin Williams was with his Parkinson's. People battling depression have suffered so much terror about their lives. Now as an adult facing immeasurably horrible difficulties financially and being alone in life , I understand how someone might turn that direction with depression. . Its time for our society to be tolerant and more understanding of mental illness. This may be a legacy of Robin Williams that he helps others battling depression.

    1. Yes, that may be Robin Williams' legacy. His death may open eyes, and open doors. What a horrible thing to happen to a child. Losing your father right in front of you, then being told by your uncle that he would always be there for you. And then losing him the next day. Children have a hard time processing tragic things like this, and grow up with the repercussions. I think many of us could say that. We may be adults, but we are sometimes dealing with something that happened when we were children, and our reactions can be that of that child.

      A psychiatrist told me once that when my brain sensed some particular sort of danger, it would take me away making me dissociate. She said that my brain learned that when I was a child to protect me, and consequently can't "unlearn" it.

  9. Our family has anxiety disorders and I remember one Dr. saying some people have blue eyes some people have brown eyes and same with anxiety we are all made different and our genetic and enviromental make up sometimes makes up predisposed to certain traits. Nothing to be ashamed of that's just the way it is in life. We, also, have a genetic heart condition that we are currently going through genetic testing and it has been so wonderful that this is available to us. I wish they could isolate the gene for mental illness. We hope by doing this we can prevent sudden death in young people in our family(lies). It has made me very tolerant of other people who are not fitting into our round holes of "what we are supposed to be like." This has been a very touching java talk. Someone told me that it takes a courageous person to ask for help in our society and so pat yourself on the back for speaking out about this. Remember how brave you are to get help to keep trying till you get the help you need whatever that is.

  10. My BIL committed suicide a few years ago, along with killing his dog. He tried to get his estranged wife to come over beforehand, and I believe if she had, he would've taken her life, too. His dad killed himself when Vince was a child, and he grew up to be a very disturbed man. Physical abuse, alcoholism, etc. led to the breakup of his marriage. My son also had a good friend in h.s. attempt suicide at the age of 16. He shot half of his face off with a gun, but survived. He's almost 24 now, but has endured many surgeries. My daughter was not suicidal, but was diagnosed at age 18 with severe depression. She told us and got help. Please tell someone and keep trying. Matt (my son's friend) is so glad to still be alive.

    1. Your daughter was very mature to let it be known that she needed help. I want you to read something about suicide and the children left behind:
      Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center found that children who are under 18 when their parents commit suicide are three times as likely as children with living parents to later commit suicide themselves. The likelihood increases when the parent who commits suicide is the mother. This highlights the vital importance of providing support to children who are grieving. Not only are we treating the trauma of sudden parental loss, we are also trying to break the suicide cycle in families.

  11. Josephine, not that this matters to anyone but you, I believe Robin was an Epsicopalian. Do you know that pastors and priests have a high depression and suicide rate? Google it yourself if you doubt. I believe they are in the top three professions that suffer from depression.

  12. My dad had an operation two years ago that changed his life and because of that, he twice tried to kill himself. I'm so thankful he did not succeed, but he is still very unhappy. He never leaves the house, sits in the livingroom and only comes to the kitchen for meals, this is not the life he wants. My mum is very disabled so she does not get out much, only the occasional trip. I am glad my brother is there to help them. They live in Scotland and I'm 3000 miles away in Upstate NY, I have my low days, I feel guilty being so far away, I miss my friends. Even though I made new friends it still isn't the same. I have been on medication once for depression many years ago so I know the symptoms. Some days, I can kick it's butt but other days it kicks mine. The days where it's hard to get up and get dressed and get on with life. All I know is I will always put my husband, children and other family first, worry about my problems second.

    1. Have you ever heard Dr. Phil say that you must take care of yourself first? That is true. You are no good to them unless you take care of yourself. That is your gift to them.

  13. I don't think schools are capable of teaching kids about bullying. Having had a bullied child, the schools' answer is move the child being bullied, or changing the behavior of the bullied child. There never seems to be any consequences for the bully, and when the bullied child finally reaches his limits, and retaliates, he is the one in trouble. Kids who commit suicide because of bullying really think there is nothing else to do. I don't know what the answer is. I told my daughter that her bully was no where near as smart as she was, and he would only leave her alone if he were afraid of her. I told her to find something that would hurt him, and use her words to shame him. She did, and her life got much better, but I don't think that will work in all situations.

    1. An eight year old girl who lived in a small town near Tyler, Texas, where I lived, hanged herself in May 2011, because she'd been bullied. What can we say to children to stop the bullying? Why is this happening?

  14. Brenda, I'm popping back in today to comment on what you said about "being different" should be taught in our schools. I know as parents we've probably all seen those kids that slink into the school yard, heads down, trying not to be recognized, you can see the pain and anguish on their faces. I remember one time we were out of town for a music competition w/the school, I was chaperoning, and I saw this young man talking to my daughter. I knew they weren't friends, but he spilled his guts to her. She said it was very shocking as they'd never talked before. But she sat and listened to him. So, yes, maybe if it was opened up for conversation, instead of being called "different and depressed or weird kids" this would help so many.

    1. There is always "the different kid." And the other kids shun them. But if they were taught to understand that there are all kinds of people, and all sorts of afflictions, and that you cannot always see someone's pain, perhaps they would approach "the different kid" and offer their friendship.

  15. The first time I heard of suicide was when my elderly great uncle took his life in 1968. He had been diagnosed with cancer. His beloved wife had died just two years before from cancer. They didn't have children. He was a chemist. They had a beautiful home, traveled a lot and were big workers/contributors to their church. For years, his wife had been the church organist. He was heartbroken and depressed. When he was given the diagnose of cancer, I think he just couldn't handle it by himself. He had been by his wife's side and watched her suffer. After his death, an aunt made a remark to everyone, "you know he's in Hell now!" (Except she couldn't even say "Hell", feeling that the word was inappropriate for a lady to say, she always said "H E double L". She would never understand that she was using the word as a name of a place, not as a curse word!) Even at a young age, I didn't think he was. God is a loving God and I think he was safe in the arms of God. There is such an attitude of suicide being a chicken way out or because they took their own life, they are doomed to never enter Heaven. When a young person takes their life simply because their boyfriend broke up with them and they think their life is over, it's sad and heartbreaking. When a person takes his life because he has heavy debt and doesn't see a way out, it's sad and heartbreaking. If only they would have waited to see that there were many good things yet to come and the answer was not suicide. However, my feeling is suicide, for those who have battled the true disease of depression for years, must feel like the cure. They must feel that they have struggled enough. Fought the disease enough. Now they want to get on to the eternal life. They want the suffering to be gone. You can die from cancer and other diseases but sadly, the only way you die from depression is to take your own life. Yes, there is always help and if Robin had just waited a little while longer, perhaps his assistant would have seen how bad he was and would have gotten him help and he would still be with us today. Maybe that scenario had already happened a number of times, we don't know. If only the man hadn't been at the red light, he would be here today. We can say this about all types of death. "If only." However, I like to think God knew Robin's tortured heart and mind and when Robin cried out for help, God reached out his Hand. I like to think many smiling and laughing angels were there to greet him home to his loving God and he is no longer suffering from the horrible disease of depression. "No longer suffering", isn't that what we always say when a loved one dies from any other disease? I also like to think that thru Robin's death, discussions like we are having here, are happening all over the world and people, who have been suffering silently, will know it is okay to seek help and know it's okay to talk about depression. Maybe thru Robin's death, many lives will be saved.

    1. I always say: "Until you walk in someone's shoes, don't judge what they do or how they react." And yes, I hope that the world, having seen the comedic genius lose his battle, understands that it is very real.

  16. You know how I feel about this topic as my own Mom suffered greatly from depression. I was just reading an article about the frequency of depression among the highly intelligent and the creatively gifted. There is so much that is not yet understood about the brain. There seems to be a fine line between genius and mental illness. I believe that once we finally accept these symptoms as indicative of an illness like any other kind of illness we will make the forward strides to help those in it's grasp. Thank you for forging a pathway to compassion.

    Big Texas Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

    1. There are actually physical differences in the brain among the mentally ill, in terms of the amygdala, etc. The size is different, scientists have learned. So that right there makes it physical and so you're "not crazy." Your brain is simply different, and that is nothing you can control! Thanks for your words, Susan.

  17. I was maybe 5 years old when I learned about suicide. It was a woman in our community, and being the child sitting in the corner not making any noise, people talked about it in front of me. I remember feeling such sadness that this woman was so alone she felt she had no choice. Fast forward lots of years, a friend lost her 13 year old daughter in a cluster of suicides in a near by town. They were Catholic, and I did not want to go to the funeral. I did not want to hear about eternal damnation. The service was so different from what I expected. The Father said anyone who takes their own life cannot be in their right mind, and cannot be blamed, and neither should her parents be blamed. That she had felt she had no other choice. Most of the kids from her school were there, he talked about finding help and also about getting help for your loved one. It was a message of love and acceptance. The cluster of suicides ended.

  18. I'm sorry, I was so upset by that comment that I was typing too fast. I meant: "I don't think you understand that this IS a problem in the brain.

  19. I don't want to offend you, but none of that would have mattered. I don't think you understand that this a problem in the brain. And no repenting, or going to church, would have altered the chemicals in his brain. Do you think people wouldn't have, say, diabetes, if they repented and went to church? This is NO DIFFERENT!

  20. I've been suffering with depression and anxiety for years. Medication s don't ever seem to help. I have tried all off them. People around me don't understand why I feel the way I do. I don't even understand it. They say oh, get over it, go for a walk, find a hobby. Etc. Etc. It's a terrible thing to have each and every day. No. I'm not suicidal. Guess I'll just struggle with this for the rest of my life.

    1. Oh Carol, please don't give up on obtaining help or the right medication. I know you feel so hopeless about the situation. Sometimes I do too. But all I know to do is to go to the doctor and have them tweak the medication. Medication if often a "cocktail" instead of just one antidepressant or anti anxiety agent. I have a cocktail of meds that I take.

      I know about people around you not understanding. I have not seen my daughters in quite some time. And if it's easier on them not to be around me or think about it, then I understand and want them to still lead full lives, even though I'm not in it. Or see my grandchildren. I willingly give up that right if it makes them happier.

      Please don't just accept this. I have tried many meds too. I have tried therapy, but all it does (for me personally; not everyone) is just bring the nightmares back. Because with PTSD, talking about it at length is just reliving it. And then I go home and I'm left alone to deal with the anxiety it brought back and the nightmares when I sleep. And possibly the dissociation that happens as a result.

    2. Carol Jane please take Brenda's advice. My son's psychiatrist of 3 years had him on all kinds of meds. I never met the doctor, but really had this weird feeling about him. Things were not working out. Our son finally decided to move back to Washington state from Texas. His new psychiatrist has made some changes over the last 7 months but said that it may take 2 years to get the "cocktail" of meds that work best for our son. We have all the confidence in the world in this doctor. Oh, I'm not sure I could count on two hands the number of psychiatrists our son has seen. Some of them were horrible. Stay with it; don't give up. Please.

  21. I have been touched by suicide. My best friend's mom tried twice. Thankfully both times she failed. However, when she was diagnosed with physical problem she did everything in her power to disregard the medical advice, and slowly committed suicide that way. I guess she thought it would be more acceptable. But, we still mourned her, and felt the loss, and the guilt.
    I had a boy friend. We broke up. About five years later he shot himself. His note, and his only note said, "Tell Trudy I always loved her." Enough about him.
    I have had depression. I know it is not a choice. I had a wonderful therapist who saved my life. I don't think I would have committed suicide, but I would have run away from my life as it was. I would probably now be one of the homeless you see, and wonder why, what happened.
    She taught me life saving tactics, she helped me to see things that happened to me that contributed to my depression, she gave me things to think, say, do to avoid depression. She made me strong. That's not to say I haven't been close to the darkness since then, because I have. But, when I see the tunnel with no light at the end coming at me, and I know how to avoid it.
    My opinion of suicide is not one that will find favor. I think it is the most selfish thing a person can do. It is final, there is no turning back.That person leaves loved ones behind with all of the guilt. And all of the questions, but none of the answers. Those people have to pickup the shattered pieces of their lives and try to make sense out of the mess. Suicide is a cowards way out. There is no one, nowhere that if strong enough, brave enough can't ask for help. If professional help is not available talking to someone in a position of trust will help. Praying will help. God does not want us to kill ourselves.

    1. I'm glad you mentioned the homeless. Here are some statistics on the homeless in correlation with mental illness…

      Suicide would indeed be selfish if the person is in a frame of mind that they are mentally competent. But many are not. For many they are so far gone, they are not capable of the intellectual reasoning that would render them able to understand the ramifications of their act.

  22. Hello. There haven't been any suicides in my immediate, or even extended, family, although there family members who suffer from mental illness. On my side of the family, people tend to view mental health issues as something to "get over." My first husband's family was more open and aware in regards to admitting that some family members were suffering from mental health issues, and various family members were on medications and went to counseling. There was a lot of dysfunction in his family, but, at least they admitted it. On my side, there was (and still is) dysfunction, but it was (and is) ignored. While my first marriage was not successful, one positive result from it is that I learned that it is OK to pursue help for mental health issues, rather than to act like nothing is wrong.

    1. If the person suffering doesn't understand that something is wrong, then that person's loved ones will see it. And hopefully help them find the help they need. It is more than okay to pursue help. It is absolutely necessary.

  23. Yes, I've been affected by suicide and members of my family are suffering from depression. I attended a course that highlights what we can do to recognise the early signs of depreseeion and people at risk of attempting suicide. It's a pity that more poeple aren't able to attend such training.

    1. (National Alliance on Mental Illness) provides free education and support group programs for those with/affected by mental illness. I believe it has chapters or affiliates in all states. My husband took a free 12 week course early in our marriage. His class was for families with a mentally ill member. Now, he really understands and helps me cope with my suicidal tendencies.

    2. First, to Gillian. Bravo for you! There is training out there for people to help them understand what their loved one is experiencing, and how to deal with them. Indeed it is such a pity they don't avail themselves of this.

  24. My paternal grandfather killed himself when I was in high school. My mother struggled with mental illness for (I believe) her whole life. My son was misdiagnosed with clinical depression when he was 13. He was correctly diagnosed with Bipolar disorder when he was 21. He has never attempted suicide directly, but has engaged in risky behavior before the PD diagnosis and getting the right meds. My husband slid into clinical depression about 4 years ago as a result of chronic pain. Our life is not what we planned. It is only our deep faith in our Lord Jesus Christ that keeps us going. It hurts us so much that other Christians will belittle and scoff at mental illness. As others have said, you don't snap out of it; faith sustains us but we also realize that my husband and son may not be healed. Not in this life, anyway.
    Thank you for writing about this very important topic.

    1. Well Sylvia, I'm so glad you said that it hurts you that other Christians will belittle and scoff at mental illness. There are churches that think if you hold a snake and it doesn't bite you, then you are not a sinner. That is an extreme example, I know. But where, oh where, is the empathy we bestow lavishly on those with a terrible physical illness? And when it comes to mental illness, people fade away? I'm so glad your son has been correctly diagnosed. I was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder at 26, at a mental health clinic with a psychiatrist from another country. I doubt we even understood one another.

      To everyone: If you or a loved one has sought treatment and it hasn't worked, or you didn't feel right about the doctor, get another doctor. Please, this is so important. Go somewhere else for another opinion.

      And I'm so sorry for what you're going through now with your husband, and your life plans went down the drain. I'm just so sorry.

      Would a person tell someone with cancer to "just snap out of it?" You're right about that.

    1. And genetics are so important. I'm sorry Linda, for the loved ones you have lost. It didn't have to happen, and maybe if they'd had more support and less stigma, it wouldn't have. Or maybe it wouldn't have made any difference. These people are pressed into a corner with their inner demons. And no, I don't mean the devil or anything having to do with religion! The suffering becomes too much.

  25. Yes, I've lost three members to suicide: My dad when I was 19, alcohol and depression, took his own life and that of another, leaving family on both sides in the depths of despair. It certainly changed my young life for many years. I came to accept that my dad's life was just way too dark for him to recover, and he did what he did. Do I condone it? Certainly not. Do I still love him? Yes, but of course. I have a SIL that took her life, also, with booze and drugs. I spoke to her on Sunday night and we talked recipes, everything seemed fine, not a hint of anything wrong. Monday my husband received a letter in the mail from her notifying him that by the time he got it she'd be gone, and yes, she was. A female cousin in her 40s, also drugs and alcohol. A young reporter I worked with in court, married to a sheriff, looked like they had it all, and she shot herself. It's just so hard to comprehend the why? My heart is breaking for Robin's family. The media needs to stop being so barbaric and revealing so much. If he did leave a note, only his family even needs to know this, not the world. The world will miss this talented man something awful. You just couldn't watch him w/out laughing and I'd always wonder how he could do what he did, his mind racing along. Even though he is gone he will live on in our hearts forever, and once again make us smile, doing what he did best! I have a niece that has just been diagnosed with bi-polar at 62, and her dad still scoffs at it. How sad is that?

    1. It's very sad. His scoffing at her could cause her to do something drastic too. Why are people so bull-headed? Just because they don't have it, and can't see it, does not mean it isn't there. I just can't believe the utter stupidity of people sometimes. She needs to get away from that man.

      So many people, gone, who could have been saved. And I don't believe it "was their time." I believe that we don't have sufficient mental health services in this country, and probably many others, first of all. And we don't have the education, which I think should be in our school system actually. So that kids in say, in junior high and high school, are taught about differences in people. About mental illness. And teach them to be supportive and compassionate. So that those that suffer from it don't have to feel like outsiders. Oh, where is the empathy in this country???

  26. I think there are many more people than we realize who are suffering from depression and hide it, refuse treatment, and simply retreat. It is very unhealthy and so sad. And everyone their life touches is affected by it. This was such a profound post.

  27. Clinical depression has many faces, none of which have ethnic or economic features, but instead, bear a striking resemblance to pain, suffering, desperation and loss. I am utterly torn apart from Robin Williams' death. While discussing the incident yesterday, here in the village, someone pointed out that, surely, it wasn't as tragic as a child's fatal illness, or an accident that involved young adults, or the atrocities are taking place in Gaza, as we speak, and I wondered, 'What is it, exactly, about this beloved actor/comedian/philanthropist's death that has hit us so hard?'.

    I think it's the fact that we feel that we knew him. He was the friend who was always there to help us forget what was ailing us, at least for a while, making us smile, laugh uncontrollably at his comedic antics, or bring us to tears with his heartfelt acting abilities, forcing us to connect with our own personal dramas or traumas, perhaps, even shedding some light on them, convincing us that things aren't so bad, after all. How very sad that he could not do this for himself, with regards to his own private matters. Depression wouldn't let him. The disorder shut all the doors in his mind, thus, help was no longer accessible. How ironic that he opened so many doors for his audience, letting the sunshine in, warming their backs, and their hearts, while he, himself, lived in darkness.

    He will be greatly missed.

    Rest in peace, Mr. Williams.


  28. I was really sad when I heard this, but I understand. I went into a deep depression after high school when my boyfriend was killed. I did not want to live. I tried to end my life a year after he died. I do not talk about this to anyone and only a few know what happen. When I did not succeed I turned to God and started my life over again. A few years after that I met a wonderful man that I married and after 39 years together we have two children and five grandchildren. I am so happy to be here. My life has not been picture perfect, but I do have a life and for that I will always be thankful.

    1. I am happy that you did not kill yourself. And your grandchildren and children are thankful that they are here because you did not succeed that long ago day.

  29. Depression and anxiety run rampant in both my family and my husband's family. As you know, my oldest son suffered from depression and despite many doctors, medications, counseling, hospitalization, and all our love and support, he turned to drugs and alcohol to numb his pain. And ultimately, the drugs and alcohol caused his death almost 5 years ago at the age of 21. Not exactly suicide, but in a way, it is. A long, slow process towards death. One of my very good friends took her own life four years ago. Left behind a husband and two young kids. She suffered with depression her whole life and had tried to kill herself when she was a teen (OD of pills). One of my best friend's brother killed himself 7 years ago – he was bipolar. He also left behind two young children. And yet another good friend's sons killed himself about 15 years ago. She doesn't talk about it…all I know was that he also suffered with depression. Even though Robin Williams was a celebrity and not someone I knew personally, his death has really affected me. I have been very shook up and heartbroken.

    1. I had hoped you'd stop by, Melanie. But I wouldn't have been surprised if you could not. I know you still have so much pain, and it will never ever go away. I have wanted so many times to just hug you and let you tell me about him.

    2. My heart goes out to you or your loss Melanie. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to me and post on my comment, it means such a lot.

  30. I have had, in the past, acute depression caused by some life issues, such as divorce. It did clear up, but I remember the feeling of not wanting to even get out of bed and the emotional and mental pain that was beyond excruciating. I consider myself very lucky that I was able to come out of it with the temporary use of medication and therapy. I find that since menopause my mood is generally much more positive. My husbands stepdaughter, sadly, not so lucky. Two years ago, at the age of twenty, she jumped off the top of a 7-story building in Manhattan and died.. She was a beautiful, talented girl who went to Juilliard and played the piano. Unfortunately, she developed schizophrenia as an adolescent and had been in and out of mental institutions. One of the main problems, I think, was that she did not accept that she was ill and would stop taking her medications. So sad. I don't think we, as a nation, take mental illness seriously enough. There is still a big stigma and the insurance companies are so very reluctant to provide benefits. We need more compassion and understanding for those who are suffering.

    1. Why is it that very creative people seem to fall victim to this ravaging disease? Writers, actors, artists of all kind? How horrible. To jump from a 7-story building. I think perhaps creative and sometimes gifted people are vulnerable to this. I don't know. You cannot stop your medication. I had a dear friend, he was a psychiatric social worker, and after my attempt in 2000, he would come talk to me. And then tragically, in May 2002, he killed himself. Chuck was a handsome, giving, loving man. He was engaged to be married to an architect in Houston. But the darkness of bipolar disorder mixed with alcohol ended it all. I miss my friend to this day.

  31. Depression is miserable , especially if your brain tells you there is no reason to be so sad. Life is good, there is so much to live for and so much to enjoy. But the overwhelming darkness and despair of depression just drags one into a deep hole with no seeming light to guide you out. I can see why so many with serious depression turn to alcohol and drugs, and …. It is so sad death seems the only resort for so many. That is true desperation and despair , and tragedy.

    1. Luckily, I personally happen to be the kind of patient that never drinks or takes recreational drugs or even smokes. I do not want anything to interfere with my medication. But yes, so many turn to that, and unfortunately, it only makes it worse. Alcohol is a depressant.

  32. A very dear friend of mine her son hung himself just two weeks before graduating from high school. As soon as I heard that Robin hung himself I got sick to my stomach worrying about my friend and her family having to relive Aaron's death. I don't think the public has a right to know, his was a celebrity but that doesn't mean every part of their lives and their families lives are our business.

    1. You're absolutely right. And ethically, I don't think the journalists who then picked up all the info and put it out there had any morals at all. They should have had more respect for his family, for his daughter who was in the news, to not go into such gory detail. Just like the monster PTSD, I'm sure every person who has been closely touched by this, has now had to relive it in stark detail. If someone attempts suicide, they need help. Not blame.

  33. Lost my post…never been touched by suicide but many have threatened. Depression is very serious. Been there done that. Dont dismiss any depressed friend or family member. My daughter is a Psychiatrist. She sees it on a daily basis. Please do something. Robin had it alll…so why was he depressed? Only God knows but he lost everything now. This is not normal. Please try to get help for those who cant help themselves. Depression hurts. Trying to kill yourself is not an attention seeker as a friend of mine put it after her son tried to kill himself just last week. Yes these hurting souls need help and love but sometimes it isn't enough. Sometimes it's too late. RIP Robin. Yes he is in Heaven. He sure is. God is a loving God.

    1. He didn't have it all. He never had it all. Because this had to be seething within him for a very, very long time. Money doesn't fix it. Love doesn't fix it. Being a prominent entertainer doesn't fix it. It is a demon that is faceless yet it torments you to the point where you think sometimes you just can't get up one more day. He did not have it all by any stretch of the imagination. His disease killed him.

  34. Suicide or plan b as I use to call it, was always an option deep in the back of my mind since childhood. I was so depressed, hid it so well, no one, not even I had a clue. But the day I swallowed 30 valiums, God took control and saved me. I got the help I didn't even know I needed. A year later I divorced a man that told me I was stupid everyday, I changed my job to something I actually had an interest in, and I began a life where "my" happiness actually mattered. I had to re-learn how to be happy and that doing things that made me happy were okay. I had a great psychiatrist that gave me homework, a guide to daily tasks that would being me small amounts of joy, and over time I began to feel what true happiness really was. It has been 25 years since that horrible day and I am so grateful God saved my life. My life is not perfect, but thanks to a very skilled doctor, I know how to work through those times. Thank you Brenda for talking about this subject. I am no longer ashamed to tell anyone my story.

    1. No, don't be ashamed. If we are ashamed, we add to the stigma, and then it is our fault as well that it exists. At age 26 I met a brilliant psychiatrist. I thought he hung the moon. Then years later we met up and married, and every good thing he ever said about me he then refuted. I was a bad person. I was unlovable. Because we then had an intimate relationship, the cuffs were off in terms of everything he knew about me. And believe me, he knew everything in three years of therapy.

    2. I hope your ex suffers in this life and the next for using his knowledge of your frailties as a way to torture you in your relationship together. I know that my ex made me trust him with my innermost secrets and problems and then proceeded to use them as his personal tools of torture during the next 20 years. I am now out of his grip and in the arms of my beloved, but the pain still creeps in on occasion and it can be maddening that someone I loved and trusted so much could do the things he did to hurt me mentally and spiritually.
      I have two siblings who suffer with mental illness and I have watched it destroy them, their families, and alienate them from everyone who loves and cares for them. I thought I could not turn away from them until one decided to attack our mother. I wish him health, but he will never be part of my life again and for that I am very sad. The other is in an ever-increasing downward spiral as is his wife, and they will not let anyone help them. So very sad.

  35. I didnt realize how depressed I was after my first divorce for a long time. I was in a state of depression for six years. Six years of just existing of going to work and coming home and getting fatter by the day. Depression is nothing to make fun of or sweep under the rug. I think many people suffer from it. I still go through ups and downs but it never sticks for very long. Thank God. Because those were some dark days for those six years. I believe it is time that mental illness be the number one topic in society and government. I worry about children these days, they go through so much at an early age and there are too many suicides happening among our young. I am sure going to miss Robin Williams. Oh, that man has made me laugh so hard that my ribs hurt. He is at peace now.

    1. When I was a child, I didn't fit in. I was used to people my great-grandmother's age. We lived out in the country around other old people. In grade school, children sensed that I was different. In a way only children can. So I did what Robin Williams did. I found a way to make them laugh. And suddenly they saw me. So I tried harder and harder. I was witty. I could make up a good story. But behind it all, the tears of a clown. I think I knew how he felt.

  36. Tears of a clown. That song really means alot to me. And doesn't it really hit home with many comedians? Jokes can hide so much pain.
    I also have been affected by suicide. 2 friends, a cousin, just a few months ago and an uncle and I have been so near death myself.
    If it hadn't been hearing my grandpas voice loud and clear (and he had been gone for years) saying…Get Help NOW! I would not be here to write this. Strange as it sounds I did hear his voice at the moment I needed it. So after many years of help and struggles I am still around to share my experence. Not that it has been easy by any means. I still have many days where I say I don't want to do this any more. But I know that there will be good days also. Helping my mom now who is dealing with cancer ( and nothing more can be done for her, but doing good now) has really been hard. But I have to remember to take it one day at a time. Enjoy the good days with her. Who knows how long the good days will last. My whole family suffers from depression. From immediate family.parents, siblings to aunts and uncles. Hopefully something good will come from Robin Williams death. An awareness of suicide that the world needs to be smacked in the face about. Taken more seriously. Not hidden away. Not wispered about. Acknowleded as the serious disease that it is. It is a disease, just like diabetes, cancer, etc, etc, etc.

    1. I am truly sorry for your pain. It cannot be measured by a thermometer or measuring cup. Which I still have in my kitchen despite no longer having a stove. It does tend to run in families. And run I did at age 15 to get away from the relatives who seemed "peculiar." But I couldn't run fast enough. And now one of my daughters is attempting to run (from me I suppose), and I want to tell her, if only she would talk to me, that I tried first and it simply did not work. Perhaps the whispering will grow louder now, and penetrate the gratuitous cell phone conversations discussing all manner of the obviously mundane: What they see in the grocery store aisle to what they see in their belly button. We have become a society that is attached to an electronic mode of communicating or entertainment to the point where we do not see the homeless, the mentally ill, or cars crashing. I have seen children running among cars while their mothers are intently scouring their iPhones. We need to change that, folks. We need to stop looking down and look up.

  37. Well, here are the statistics: Genetic causes of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia has a strong hereditary component. Individuals with a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) who has schizophrenia have a 10 percent chance of developing the disorder, as opposed to the 1 percent chance of the general population.

    That doesn't sound so bad, does it? But I have a feeling it is not altogether the truth, sadly enough. Yes, mental illness affects everyone around you. My daughters don't even talk to me. I can blame them, and I can not blame them. It is what it is. And I can't make it go away, even if I am their mother and I love them more than life itself.

  38. Hi, My father attempted suicide by stabbing himself in the heart with a hunting knife. It was a true miracle that he survived. That was in the 1950s and he suffered from violent, paranoid schizophrenia. There really wasn't any good drugs or treatment. Our mother didn't allow us to talk about it afterwards. Society didn't understand. In the 1980s my sister, age 39, committed suicide and left behind 3 young children. She had severe schizophrenia, and again, there were no good drugs or treatment available. I also had a cousin kill himself with a gun. Times had changed a little and there was a little more understanding and sympathy. It's taken a long time to get where we are with drugs, treatment, research understanding, but we still have a long way to go. God bless those who are trying to get help for others and for those, like Brenda, who are getting people to join the conversation and making people more aware of mental illness. Mental illness causes great suffering for family members and friend too. Our family is still suffering, with no new cases of schizophrenia, that we know of, but there are still mental issues from the trauma. Let's all pray that more cures will be found.

  39. This is a topic that is so real and one that needs to be recognized and talked about. Unfortunately I think suicide is still a topic that makes people uncomfortable.
    To be honest I hesitated sharing my own experiences as it all began in a time when it was even more taboo… the late 1920s to be exact. I now believe there was a fair amount of suicide happening then as the result of The Great Depression our country was facing. At any rate, as a little girl my mom stumbled upon her dad hanging in the garage. She didn't understand what was happening, but she knew it was something bad. She ran inside to tell her mother. Her mother opened the kitchen drawer, took out a butcher knife and went to the garage to cut the rope. After that she told her six children this was something they should not talk about. II know this sounds unbelievable, but at that time it was considered so shameful. My grandma went on to raise the kids by herself with very little money. My mom rarely talked about this and I grew up not quite knowing what to think of it all.
    Fast forward to 2012 when I received a call that my nephew had taken his life. Did he inherit the genes from our grandfather? We'll not know for sure. I do know that in college he began to show signs of some type of mental illness. I knew my sister and brother-in-law were deeply concerned and were doing everything in their power to get him help. My heart goes out to anybody who is dealing with this. It is such a complicated thing to get an accurate diagnosis and also to find a medication that works. Several people at my nephew's funeral shared their own struggles with depression. It was heartbreaking.
    A few months after my nephew's death, friends of ours lost their son to suicide. They, too, had been dealing with years of mental illness. His method was to shoot himself in his bedroom while they were at work. One of the things his mom shared with me is that the struggle to get your loved one proper care becomes more difficult when they are adults and the privacy laws prevent you from getting all of the information that might be helpful in assisting with the patient's care.
    Most of this I have only shared with my immediate family. When my nephew died I heard the "what a selfish thing to do" comment a few times. After seeing what he went through I do believe that people who are suffering in this manner don't want to die, they just want to pain to stop and that is why I am sharing this today. I think we have come a long way since my grandma told her children not to talk about it, but I also think we have a long way to go towards better understanding.
    Thank you, Brenda, for opening up this discussion.

    1. I remember clearly when this happened with your nephew, because you emailed me, knowing I would not judge. Even though I have many problems with my ex-husband, he is a brilliant diagnostician and in his words: "Genes are everything." I can go back generations with my own.

      When a young adult in their late teens to early twenties suddenly seems to develop a mental illness, it is often schizophrenia, for that is usually when the symptoms become apparent. I have been off your radar, and am so glad you commented so that I can get back on radar. Mental illness is baffling. But so is cancer. And we don't blame cancer victims. Thank God.

  40. Hello Brenda, I have recently found your blog and love that it addresses "real" life. Today, I had to comment as my 19 year old daughter attempted suicide 3 days ago by cutting her wrists. Over the past year she has been diagnosed depression, anxiety, adjustment disorder, panic disorder and has spent a month in a psychiatric hospital. After 6 hours in A&E she was sent home as there were no beds available and we were told to keep her away from pills and knives (we are in the UK). 2 days ago she was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder – we were told that there is no drug treatment and that the waiting list for Psychological Treatment is over a year. My mind is blown, she didn't have an abusive childhood (the recognised cause of BPD). Both my husband and I did have abusive childhoods, we don't have BPD, she had a good childhood (her words) and she has developed BPD – so who knows. The system here is breaking – not enough beds, no staff, long waiting lists and no support for the family and carers. Sending hugs to all who share their stories today.

    1. Well, I'm going to say this now and I don't think I've been brave enough to do it before, I too have BPD, or Borderline Personality Disorder. It is one of my diagnoses. My doctors say it is like having bipolar disorder. But instead of having weeks of depression and then weeks of being manic, I experience both many times a day. And so does your daughter. I think this is so important you may have to come over to the US, which is not known to be kind when it comes to mental illness, but where you might get her help sooner. And I will tell you now, she needs it urgently.

    2. My heart is breaking for you and your daughter, Anne. I hope you read Brenda's reply above and mine, too. Your daughter needs professional help ASAP. No beds? No drug treatment? Waiting list for over a year? Unacceptable. Go to another town, city, even country (like Brenda suggested) if you have to. Your daughter will not just "snap out of this" or magically become well. Keeping sharp objects and pills out of the house is like putting a Band-aid on a gushing wound. Please get her help before it's too late.

    3. Thank you both for your reply (and for sharing that you also have BPD Brenda, I appreciate that). My daughter is just like you experiencing Depression and Mania up to several times in one day. I have today found a UK BPD organisation that I can make contact with and hopefully start moving forward more positively. This is our second time going through this as our son has Autism Spectrum Disorder with co-morbid MH problems. Love to you both.

  41. We are a small family of ten people. Five have some form of mental illness to varying degrees. I have fought the 'slippery slope' of major depression since I was eleven years old. It is a moment by moment battle. If I am not constantly aware of how I am thinking, it is very easy for me to slip once again into the darkness. Unfortunately, suicide will always be an option for me if life becomes too painful to endure. And it's not easy to just 'get over' as so many people think, including my own mother. Even for hugely successful comedians. Robin Williams brought joy to so many. Such a shame he couldn't seem to experience it for himself…

    1. Well, you and I both know how hard it is to experience it without it somehow being tainted by our own brain. We know that family members will never understand. And in the words of my own internal medicine doctor recently, "it's not that they don't get it; it's that they DON'T WANT to get it." No truer words were ever spoken. Who would want to get it? People who have true empathy.

  42. If you remember, I took the pills at about that same age. Nothing was done. People didn't talk about it. I spent my childhood in helpless misery. It wasn't until I was 26 years old that I got diagnosed and treated. Yet it does not end there, does it Sonny? There are many glitches along the path of life, and you have to have your meds adjusted. You go though terrifying times when you are afraid even of yourself. I know, Sonny. I know. I wish the world was more accepting and less judgmental. Maybe more people would get treatment.

  43. Glad you said that Brenda.. my first diagnosis was at 7 years old.. not because my parents got me help, but a very good emergency room nurse told a wonderful young doctor what she saw and heard me say.. They made sure my parents KNEW what was going on BUT my Mother took me home and told me to basically ,,snap out of it~! or I'd have to "go somewhere" and may never be able to come home. OMG,, the FEAR-and so began the next 50 years.. no one has ever known about the real me.. not even spouses or good friends….. I'm very experienced with hiding it from every one but ME.

  44. Something else I want to say, and I plan to expound on this in another post. Childhood suicide is on the rise. With Facebook and bullying, children have no safe place to escape. Parents need to look up suicidal ideation and watch closely for these signs. Because children as young as six years old are dying needlessly. Children too suffer from mental illness. And if you think it is scary for adults, imagine what it is like for them.

    1. I have to get angry that there is a platform upon which children can target other children and bully them behind the guise of a computer screen. When I was a child, they at least had to do it in person, in broad daylight. It is now like an epidemic and I shall be writing about it.

  45. My son lost at least two Army friends to suicide in the last few years ( Iraq vets ) 🙁 It was very hard for him. They all went through so much to stay alive over there, and then some guys come back and just can't get away from the nightmares, the despair, etc. 🙁

    1. I'm so glad you mention the vets, because as we all know that was how PTSD was discovered and coined into something we could accept and understand. I too have PTSD, though I fought no wars for our country. My war is inside my brain. It makes me feel weak to think of myself, and then to think of them. What they went through. It doesn't seem possible that it could be the same thing, yet it is.

    2. one of his friend's new wife wanted him (friend ) to stop drinking so much. Then when he woke screaming from nightmares night after night she told him go ahead and drink and sleep well. That guy just got worse but he's got a new baby and wants to beat it / get better / he's in a mental hospital type of place now trying… So yes, them, you, someone else with a different trauma…it's a war in the brain… 🙁

    3. Here is why you should not sleep before bedtime, anyone: A lot of alcohol at bedtime puts you into a deep sleep, missing out on REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. Deep sleep is when your body restores itself, and alcohol interferes with this process. As the alcohol wears off, your body comes out of deep sleep, and back into REM sleep, which is when it is much easier to wake up. What's why you often wake up after just a few hours.

  46. Suicide has touched my life in the loss of 3 wonderful loved people who I lost and suicide keeps tapping me on the shoulder and I keep running away from it as fast as I can.. I do fear one day I wont run fast enough:( that may sound dramatic to some who read here but I can no longer hide who I am and what my condition is.. Brenda I know you understand and will allow me to post my truth here without judgment,, thank you. Its good to have a safe place to communicate my pain .


    1. And I was hoping you would comment today, Sonny. You and I know about that tapping finger. I too fear that, having run all of my life, one day I may simply be unable to run fast enough to escape it.

    2. Sonny, it is so brave of you to share your feelings. I have a cousin that runs away from the tapping each and every day…I am so glad she feels like she can share her feelings with me.

  47. I lost my sister many years ago to suicide. She was a beautiful and accomplished young woman who was loved by her entire family and numerous friends. It took time to realize that she was suffering silently with a depression that she was afraid to share with anyone, and afraid to get help for. I miss her every day, and I make it a point to share all of the GOOD things that I remember about her with my family. Depression is something that did carry a stigma or shame with it, but more and more, it is becoming an illness that people are talking about and/or trying to get help with. I do know others, within my family, and in my community who struggle with it. It is unfortunate that too many of us have to actually LOSE someone we love in order to be made aware. My heart is breaking for the family of Robin Williams. Such a brilliant man, who shared his gifts with the world! He will be missed by everyone.

    1. It is terribly unfortunate that we have to lose someone before we are willing to look at this illness and any other mental illness. It is unfortunate that it cannot be looked at the same way we look at diabetes or any physical illness. It is also a physical illness, because your brain is part of your physical body.

  48. Brenda, great topic today. How sad I am at the loss of another wonderful person to this horrible illness called depression. Some fight it all their lives. I have a cousin that has depression and every day is a struggle. Suicide touched my life when my Grandfather took his own life at age 83. My Mom is angry at him to this day and calls it a very selfish thing to do. But I try to tell her at the time it was his only way to handle the depression and fear he was feeling after being attacked and beaten up by a drug addict who broke into his home. I have several friends with depression who express to me that suicide is always an 'option' for them. I try to understand and give support where I can. It s a terrible thing to happen to any family.

    1. Your grandfather likely also suffered for PTSD. I guess it is always an "option" because, if things become too unbearable to live through, that is the only way you see out of a very dark and terrifying place. I'm sad to say that though. But when you are in that kind of darkness, you sometimes simply cannot find the light.

    2. I am sure he has PTSD and he was so afraid of being a 'burden' on his family. What you said is so true and while it's never easy it's helpful to have others to share this with who understand!

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