Health,  values

Depression. Arthritis of the Soul


Yesterday as we learned of Robin Williams death, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him or his family.

I may not have known Robin Williams or his family personally, but I have met the numerous characters he has played across many television shows and movies.   I grew up watching Mork and Mindy, Mrs Doubtfire, and so many other movies Robin Williams was apart of.  He was a treasured member of the Disney family.  Its hard for me to fathom a man with so much public charisma, feeling so depressed and anxious that his only answer to life is death.   As news reports continue to cross our airways about his life and his tragic death, I feel that for just a moment life has halted while we wrestle with the questions of why and how can this be?

I was trying to find a word that I could use to describe Robin Williams at this time.

He was the king of comedy.  He was the life of the party, the ad libber of many television and movie scripts, producers and directors gave him room and license to be the funny man he was known to be, however, Robin Williams also had a dark side. It was spoken about, but rarely.   The dark side of Robin was a man who struggled with addiction, severe depression and anxiety.    The word I found was incongruent.  You can not mix light and darkness.   One will swallow the other – it depends on which one you focus on.   Unfortunately, for us, and for the Williams family – the darkness won.

Ronan Keating said it perfectly when he sings ‘Life is a Roller Coaster’.  We are all going to have ups and downs.  Good times and bad times in life. I have learned ‘the perfect life’  doesn’t exist.  I have also learned that while we are busy making plans, life happens.   Life doesn’t stop.  It is however, what we make it, and what we give power too in our lives.

Unfortunately, Robin Williams story isn’t the the only one.   Millions of people around the world suffer from depression – varying degrees, but none the less painful.   I have known a few people in my life who have allowed the darkness to consume them, and unfortunately they are no longer with us.  Recently I heard somebody say that having depression is like having arthritis in your soul. This is probably the best definition of depression I have ever heard.

I believe happiness is a choice.   Doesn’t mean its easy, but it is a choice.  However, for those who suffer depression and/or anxiety- it’s so much more than a choice.   If we can describe depression in terms of an arthritis of the soul, then we can assume that for those sufferers – theres a lot more going on, than the ability to choose.  We know that where there is arthritis, there’s inflammation, usually pain, sometimes debilitating, and chemical imbalance.

Its crazy to think that we’ll go to a medical professional to help with a broken bone, or we will get blood tests done for our physical health, but when it comes to our mental and emotional health, we are less likely to ask for help. We need to find a way to take the unsavoury feelings and beliefs of mental health off the table.   Our mind, emotions and our physical health are interwoven.  I believe God made us this way for a reason. You only have look at the anatomy of how we are created to see the links between our organs and our overall health, to know that someone or something much bigger than us had to create us.

While many have had miraculous healings, the majority of people with depression take life day by day. I read an interesting blog post today about a girl who says she needs Jesus and Zoloft.  Many Christians believe that we all need to have faith and believe that Jesus will heal us.  Just have faith, they say.  Unfortunately, Jesus isn’t enough for many, and as an old friend said via facebook, they need both!  I can only imagine the frustration that those who suffer from depression feel when others sprout off their simplistic views on how sufferers should deal with there feelings of  depression.

This is probably why those who suffer with depression and suicidal thoughts don’t speak about whats running through their minds. They are acutely aware of the lack of understanding of those who have never lived with depression.  Depression isn’t easy to explain to someone who has never experienced it.  Terms such as the black cloud or the black dog are ways to describe depression, but really can’t define the feelings to their full effect of the experience.

When feeling depressed....

If you are experiencing depression or feeling as though suicide is your only answer, I urge you to get help.    I have heard many times the phrase,  ‘suicide is permanent solution to a temporary problem’, and for anyone not suffering from mental illness this is true, but for many the pain and anguish of  living life with depression and or anxiety is unbearable, and suicide is seen as an answer rather than a question.

Call Beyond blue  on 1300 224 636

I really love Russell Brand’s article on his experience and view of Robin Williams the man.   You can read it here.

So, it is with great sadness that we say goodbye to one of the worlds favourite funny men.   Godspeed.


  • Noela Ollenburg

    Hello Sarah, I really like your writing style. Thank you for writing this blog post about Robin Williams and depression. Yes, I believe it does not get spoken about enough.

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