Robin Williams gave us so much while he was with us. His death struck many of us very hard. He was clearly a brilliant and kind man.
Let’s let him touch us and teach us by his death.
All this week we have heard discussions about depression and mental illness being medical conditions. Let’s assume that is a given. He was under treatment. Those around him knew he was struggling.
As a therapist I have some ideas about how he could have been in a life-threatening state when those around him most likely thought he was well enough to be left alone.
It may have to do with medication.
I want to keep this very simple. When a person is morosely depressed he or she usually doesn’t have the energy or motivation to suicide. When severely depressed it can be hard to even get out of bed.
But when a person begins on a regimen of anti-depressant medications, they can begin to experience more energy before their mood elevates. If you recall, those TV ads for anti-depressants warn of suicidal feelings as a side effect.
It can take 6 to 12 weeks for serotonin reuptake inhibitor medication to have a full effect, depending on the medication and the person. The feelings of hopelessness and helplessness usually lift slowly, and generally after the patient feels more motivation to be active. That is, if they had wanted to die when they were barely able to function, they often still want to die when they have the energy to put a plan in place.
If you have loved ones who are depressed and starting a protocol of anti-depressants, keep this in mind. Speak to a doctor.
If you are depressed and newly medicated, I promise, it will get better. It will. It may take time. Please tell people around you how bad it is. Tell your doctor.
You would tell your doctor if your chemo treatments were too rough, right? Tell your doctor. Give it another two months. Have your meds adjusted. It will get better.
I can’t help but think that had we always had open discussions about mental illness that Robin would still be here with us. Let's keep talking.