Robin Williams’ death affected a lot of people. In fact, based on Twitter and Facebook posts following his death, I’d say his death may have affected more people than any celebrity death in recent memory. What I hope is that his death serves as a further catalyst to remove the stigma that so often goes along with depression. The stigma that if you have depression you’d better not get help or tell anyone about it because they will think you are crazy, and the stigma that if you know someone with depression it must mean they are beyond help and are crazy.
I did a blog post a while back about my struggles with depression and how the Christian culture is especially guilty of stigmatizing this struggle. My hope with the post being that people who suffer from depression will talk about it and those who don’t will be approachable people for those who do.
What Robin Williams’ death shows us is that anyone can suffer from depression. The most happy, good-hearted, “successful” people you know might very well be struggling deeply with depression behind the scenes. And if not from depression, all of us struggle with things behind the scenes that we don’t let people see on the surface. People are real, something we typically don’t realize until they are gone.
Christians need to be people of grace. People of empathy. People of compassion. People who are willing to come alongside another and help shoulder the burden. People who can guide others to the heart of Jesus, a heart that says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
This doesn’t mean that Christians don’t struggle with depression; far from it. In fact, that idea is the very reason there is such a stigma around depression in the Church. Depression is not a sin. Depression can be influenced and affected by sin, but not always. Depression is a mental health condition. Depression can be minor or major, but it’s always significant. It is always different in different people so don’t assume that your experiences with it and victories over it will be the same for someone else.
If you struggle from depression, or depression-like symptoms (sluggish, can’t get out of bed, isolate yourself, you don’t want to live, suicidal, lack of motivation, despair, lack of energy, gloomy, discouraged, lack of hope, etc.), get help.
Talk to a friend.
Talk to a pastor.
See a professional counselor or psychologist.
Call National Hopeline Network 1-800-SUICIDE or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK.
Robin Williams was not the only one to suffer from depression, hopefully the spotlight on his death will bring some good in helping remind all of us of that.
Depression is serious stuff that affects a ton of people.
In 2011, one out of every five adults in the United States had some form of mental illness in the preceding year.
If you struggle with depression, you aren’t alone.
Know that you are loved.
Author of Beyond the Battle: A man's guide to his identity in Christ in an oversexualized world
Host of the The Flip Side Podcast
Join an online men's small group led by Noah and team at BeyondTheBattle.net
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