I recently saw the following video, entitled “Depression Isn’t Always Obvious”. This isn’t a new video, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it, and it struck a chord with me.
Since I “came out” in regards to my depression and began blogging about it, many people have expressed their shock. Here are a few of the reactions I’ve gotten (as close to verbatim as I can get):
- “But you’re so happy!”
- “No! Not you!”
- “Really? I don’t think you really struggle with that.”
- “But you’re always, like, positive all the time.”
- “Do you know what real depression is like?”
And yet, I have struggled intensely. At seventeen years old, my friends and family saw me smiling and laughing constantly, yet one day I stood on the side of the road and sobbed. I was contemplating whether or not I should jump out in front of a semi.
Three years ago, the world was shocked by the death of comedian and actor Robin Williams. Considered by many to be one of the funniest men alive, people couldn’t believe that he had struggled with depression. Though he was loved by millions, Robin Williams took his own life on August 11, 2014.
Though his wife did not believe depression was the cause of his suicide, Robin Williams was treated for depression in the months leading up to his death. And his tragic passing sparked a national conversation about depression among people who come across as happy and put together.
In the midst of everything surrounding Robin William’s death, I heard this phenomenal quote from Watchmen: “Heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor…I am Pagliacci.”
So I plead with you. Don’t assume everyone around you is fine. Even if they are smiling, laughing, and by every appearance “having a good time”, take the time to find out what is really going on in their life.
I’ve been amazed at the results of taking the time to get to know people on a personal level. Asking deeper questions than the stock “how are you?” can give others an opportunity to be real.
Here’s a question to end the post: what questions are good for finding out how someone is REALLY doing?