Today I was at the grocery store. I was bombarded by stories about the recent death of Robin Williams. The media tends to exploit the deaths of celebrities making them some sort of spectacle. Admittedly when it comes to publicized deaths, or deaths of celebrities I find myself taking on the role of a non violant sociopath. That may sound insensitive but I can not possibly grieve or even care about every death I hear about.
However after hearing of Robin Williams death it saddened me a bit. When I was younger I must have watched Ms. Doubtfire dozens of times with my family. His death also got me thinking about how mental illness is treated in todays society.
It infuriates me how it is still something that is stigmatized. I know that other scientists regard psychciatry as a soft science. Compared to other areas, There is not as much empirical data. I personally do not find psychoanalysis to yield promising or if any results. Freud has been largely discredited. Though I can say that his ideas when applied to theories of critical thinking can help better understand things like art in different context.
kinsey had great success in understanding parts of the human condition. He managed to show how fluid human sexuality could be, and that not all people are merely straight or gay. Then there were the experiments done by stanely milligram. He conducted experiments on how to people respond to authority figures. I am guessing however, that those experiments done today would have yielded much different results because people do not respond to authority figures the way they used to.
There is proof that medication does work for most people suffering from depression. There are a new school of people that advocate homeopathic remedies. They demonize doctors that prescribe anti depressants and other such drugs. I am well aware these kinds of drugs are overly prescribed. But someone suffering from anxiety and depression is not going to feel better if they take valerian root and ginkgo biloba. I do not say this ignorantly because I have tried nearly all of them. Most often i find myself judged by these kinds of people. Ive people told things like “man i don’t know how you take that stuff its poison”. Ive been told to “get over it”. or my personal favorite “a lot of people have it a lot worse you, you’re lucky”.
Ive suffered from depression so great that I was incapable of rational thought. My sleep was nearly non existent. My memory was awful. overwhelming anhedonia was one of the worst. But of all the symptoms the most unusual to me is that every time i tried to eat anything it would taste rotten, even though i eat mostly fresh organic foods. I know because of that state people I thought were my friends stopped talking to me. I never really talked about my depression though, I know its a subject people do not particularly want to discuss these things. Also there is not much a person can say to make someone truly depressed feel better. So for a long time i avoided social interaction all together. I could tell it was something that people could see on my face. And I can be read like a book. Thus causing me to lose even more friendships.
Depression isn’t a weakness and it is certainly not something one can snap out of. It is a hole that gets deeper the longer you stay there. It is a disease. No person wakes up in the morning and says to themselves “oh i think i will be miserable and hate myself for a while”. Back in my teens when i read elizabeth wurtzel she sounded whiney to me. But i fully understand now what a physical and emotional pain it really is.
Anti depressants have helped me a great deal, and I am no longer ashamed of anything. I also understand that as a whole much of humanity lacks compassion.
*note this is just a personal essay and not based on any researched data