All about the mind

Let’s talk about mental illness

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Like most people, I was devastated to hear the news of Robin Williams’ suicide this morning. He was a great comedian and an actor I loved watching in movies like Flubber, Mrs Doubtfire, Patch Adams, Dead Poets’ Society, Jumanji and so many others. I practically grew up with him. Yet, this comedic genius had another side. He suffered from a mental illness. Bipolar disorder. And when he ended his life, he was reportedly depressed.

Mental illness does not discriminate. Hopefully we all know that by now. Mental illness is not an excuse. Sure, we see behaviours like drug and alcohol abuse. But what lies beneath? Why does someone resort to drugs and alcohol? Usually as a way to cope. To cope with their inner demons. It is so very important to talk about mental illness. I can’t stress that enough!

We are quick to ask a friend or a loved one how they are going and quick to move on to other topics. But how are they really feeling? People are extremely good at putting on a front. Partly because mental illness is still stigmatised. Partly because they do not want to trouble loved ones. Robin Williams was a comedian for goodness’ sake. And a damned good one! But even he struggled. Just like someone else you might know.

It is extremely important to notice the signs of depression.

When someone is depressed, usually, they start to withdraw. They no longer engage in activities they used to. They no longer get the same pleasure out of things. They begin thinking very negatively — about themselves, the world around them, their future. They might sleep a lot more and are likely to feel tired even after hours of sleep. Others might have disturbed sleep. They may eat a lot or not eat much at all. They feel worthless and hopeless. Finally, they are likely to have thoughts of suicide and possibly even plans.

With bipolar disorder, they need to have had at least one manic episode in between these depressive episodes. A manic episode might involve delusions of grandiose {thoughts of being invincible} or risky behaviours that are unlike them and can go without sleep for hours and feel energised.

It is important to keep an eye out for such signs. And then when you ask someone how they are doing and they say ‘fine’, please don’t take it as an answer. Please try and listen and validate. Please get them to seek help. Please do not judge them harshly.

Because mental illness is not a choice.

It happens.

RIP Robin Williams. And thank you for the laughs. Hopefully you are no longer struggling with your demons.

photo credit: Castles, Capes & Clones via photopin cc

Until next time,

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  • Red Handed
    12 August 2014 at 11:45 pm

    He was a legend.
    RIP Genie!
    And it is sad that people still look at depression as an adjective. ..a random English word.
    Red Handed recently posted…WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS ??My Profile

  • Red Handed
    12 August 2014 at 11:45 pm

    He was a legend.
    RIP Genie!
    And it is sad that people still look at depression as an adjective. ..a random English word.
    Red Handed recently posted…WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS ??My Profile

  • Bikram
    13 August 2014 at 12:11 am

    such a sad day , I loved him .. may he rest in peace
    and you are right how many of us actually or really know how one of our friends is really feeling ..

    Bikram’s
    Bikram recently posted…How to live and Die (2 and 3)- My ViewsMy Profile

  • Bikram
    13 August 2014 at 12:11 am

    such a sad day , I loved him .. may he rest in peace
    and you are right how many of us actually or really know how one of our friends is really feeling ..

    Bikram’s
    Bikram recently posted…How to live and Die (2 and 3)- My ViewsMy Profile

  • Amrita Prasad
    13 August 2014 at 12:17 am

    Very well written! Having gone through this in varying degrees with family, I realise now how important the early signs are!
    I also want to say good on you for not just trying to educate us but also for making this your profession and helping people to cope on a daily basis!

    Cheers
    Amrita
    Amrita Prasad recently posted…On learning how to readMy Profile

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      13 August 2014 at 5:25 am

      Thanks Amrita. Early warning signs are so often missed. And honestly, I wouldn’t trade my job for anything… It’s an eye opener and a privilege!

  • Amrita Prasad
    13 August 2014 at 12:17 am

    Very well written! Having gone through this in varying degrees with family, I realise now how important the early signs are!
    I also want to say good on you for not just trying to educate us but also for making this your profession and helping people to cope on a daily basis!

    Cheers
    Amrita
    Amrita Prasad recently posted…On learning how to readMy Profile

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      13 August 2014 at 5:25 am

      Thanks Amrita. Early warning signs are so often missed. And honestly, I wouldn’t trade my job for anything… It’s an eye opener and a privilege!

  • Chantell
    13 August 2014 at 2:28 am

    I loved the way you wrote this post…It wasn’t overstated, or panicky, or full of well-known phrases that one feels almost ‘obliged’ to say when writing a post on mental illness…It was real, and genuine and very down-to-earth, whilst also containing important information to educate your readers on what to look out for when checking in with people around them…Out of all the articles I have read today on this topic, I think I liked yours the most for its common sense and ‘real’ quality…Thankyou Sanchia x

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      13 August 2014 at 5:24 am

      Thank you Chantell. That comment means a lot because I know beautifully you write about your struggles. Xx

  • Chantell
    13 August 2014 at 2:28 am

    I loved the way you wrote this post…It wasn’t overstated, or panicky, or full of well-known phrases that one feels almost ‘obliged’ to say when writing a post on mental illness…It was real, and genuine and very down-to-earth, whilst also containing important information to educate your readers on what to look out for when checking in with people around them…Out of all the articles I have read today on this topic, I think I liked yours the most for its common sense and ‘real’ quality…Thankyou Sanchia x

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      13 August 2014 at 5:24 am

      Thank you Chantell. That comment means a lot because I know beautifully you write about your struggles. Xx

  • Stephanie Rose Bird
    13 August 2014 at 2:51 am

    Well put. I love this post. It’s so important to talk about the complete picture of his illness in relation to his comedic brilliance and death. Bravo!
    Stephanie Rose Bird recently posted…Dans le JardinMy Profile

  • Stephanie Rose Bird
    13 August 2014 at 2:51 am

    Well put. I love this post. It’s so important to talk about the complete picture of his illness in relation to his comedic brilliance and death. Bravo!
    Stephanie Rose Bird recently posted…Dans le JardinMy Profile

  • Aathira
    13 August 2014 at 4:51 am

    He was a genius. It’s such a huge loss to the world. Instead of labeling ill people as crazy, others should stop being judgmental and help them.
    Aathira recently posted…The House on the Hill topMy Profile

  • Aathira
    13 August 2014 at 4:51 am

    He was a genius. It’s such a huge loss to the world. Instead of labeling ill people as crazy, others should stop being judgmental and help them.
    Aathira recently posted…The House on the Hill topMy Profile

  • missRBit @ Legally Alien
    13 August 2014 at 8:23 am

    So very true. Mental illness happens – more often and to more people than we realise. I wad devastated to hear about Robin Williams too. Among others, Mrs Doubtfire is one of my favourite childhood movies – I have watched it way too many times πŸ˜‰
    missRBit @ Legally Alien recently posted…30 Before 30: Why I’m Doing ThisMy Profile

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      14 August 2014 at 10:30 am

      I think we forget that so many people around us are suffering…and in a way, this is a reality check I suppose.

  • missRBit @ Legally Alien
    13 August 2014 at 8:23 am

    So very true. Mental illness happens – more often and to more people than we realise. I wad devastated to hear about Robin Williams too. Among others, Mrs Doubtfire is one of my favourite childhood movies – I have watched it way too many times πŸ˜‰
    missRBit @ Legally Alien recently posted…30 Before 30: Why I’m Doing ThisMy Profile

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      14 August 2014 at 10:30 am

      I think we forget that so many people around us are suffering…and in a way, this is a reality check I suppose.

  • simple girl
    13 August 2014 at 2:57 pm

    You know, I talk to people when I feel low.. What irks me is when near and dear ones dismiss this whole feeling of helplessness and devastating negative thoughts as my being my own construct . They just do not realize that I do not control them, it just takes over me and drown me…
    simple girl recently posted…Trying to be sane…My Profile

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      14 August 2014 at 10:31 am

      Oh SG…I hate it when people do that!! Sometimes, the void takes over you and you have put it so eloquently about it drowning you. I hope you are ok. Feel free to email me if you ever want to ‘talk’. Hugs!

  • simple girl
    13 August 2014 at 2:57 pm

    You know, I talk to people when I feel low.. What irks me is when near and dear ones dismiss this whole feeling of helplessness and devastating negative thoughts as my being my own construct . They just do not realize that I do not control them, it just takes over me and drown me…
    simple girl recently posted…Trying to be sane…My Profile

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      14 August 2014 at 10:31 am

      Oh SG…I hate it when people do that!! Sometimes, the void takes over you and you have put it so eloquently about it drowning you. I hope you are ok. Feel free to email me if you ever want to ‘talk’. Hugs!

  • Rah
    13 August 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I’m still processing it – it’s just awful πŸ™
    Rah recently posted…Thirty-sixMy Profile

  • Rah
    13 August 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I’m still processing it – it’s just awful πŸ™
    Rah recently posted…Thirty-sixMy Profile

  • nabanita
    13 August 2014 at 10:21 pm

    It’s so sad that his life ended this way…But yes it doesn’t happen by choice..I wish people understand that and extend help if possible..
    nabanita recently posted…I’ll be Alright…My Profile

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      18 August 2014 at 8:59 pm

      I know…it’s distressing that he had to resort to doing this to end the pain of depression. Sadly some people feel so hopeless in that black cloud, they can’t see another way out.

  • nabanita
    13 August 2014 at 10:21 pm

    It’s so sad that his life ended this way…But yes it doesn’t happen by choice..I wish people understand that and extend help if possible..
    nabanita recently posted…I’ll be Alright…My Profile

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      18 August 2014 at 8:59 pm

      I know…it’s distressing that he had to resort to doing this to end the pain of depression. Sadly some people feel so hopeless in that black cloud, they can’t see another way out.

  • Pinky Poinker
    14 August 2014 at 4:05 pm

    We just watched a Robin Williams last weekend where he thought he only had 90 minutes to live. He was brilliant in the dramatic role and I was stunned to hear the news. I feel for his family. Good points you make πŸ™‚
    Pinky Poinker recently posted…Pinky’s Near Death ExperienceMy Profile

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      18 August 2014 at 9:03 pm

      It’s interesting Pinky that he played such positive and uplifting roles when he was struggling inwards — makes you wonder whether he chose those roles deliberately to forget for a while what he was really going through.

  • Pinky Poinker
    14 August 2014 at 4:05 pm

    We just watched a Robin Williams last weekend where he thought he only had 90 minutes to live. He was brilliant in the dramatic role and I was stunned to hear the news. I feel for his family. Good points you make πŸ™‚
    Pinky Poinker recently posted…Pinky’s Near Death ExperienceMy Profile

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      18 August 2014 at 9:03 pm

      It’s interesting Pinky that he played such positive and uplifting roles when he was struggling inwards — makes you wonder whether he chose those roles deliberately to forget for a while what he was really going through.

  • Zita
    15 August 2014 at 8:36 pm

    I spent my day in a bubble and was totally shocked when I read it at 6pm that night. You are so right, mental illness does not discriminate and you never, never know what is going on behind closed doors. It’s hard when we work in a world where this is so prevelant..sadly I think it’s a matter of when not if πŸ™
    Zita recently posted…for a Pinterest OutfitMy Profile

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      18 August 2014 at 7:50 pm

      The only reason I heard in the morning was because I was in the work car and therefore have no option but to listen to the radio. It was such sad news… and I agree with so many people it is a matter of ‘when’…

  • Zita
    15 August 2014 at 8:36 pm

    I spent my day in a bubble and was totally shocked when I read it at 6pm that night. You are so right, mental illness does not discriminate and you never, never know what is going on behind closed doors. It’s hard when we work in a world where this is so prevelant..sadly I think it’s a matter of when not if πŸ™
    Zita recently posted…for a Pinterest OutfitMy Profile

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      18 August 2014 at 7:50 pm

      The only reason I heard in the morning was because I was in the work car and therefore have no option but to listen to the radio. It was such sad news… and I agree with so many people it is a matter of ‘when’…

  • The month that was August 2014 - Living my Imperfect Life
    1 September 2014 at 9:25 pm

    […] was a sad time for many of us who grew up with Robin Williams. To hear that he had ended his life was devastating. In a way, it reminded us to be better […]

  • The month that was August 2014 - Living my Imperfect Life
    1 September 2014 at 9:25 pm

    […] was a sad time for many of us who grew up with Robin Williams. To hear that he had ended his life was devastating. In a way, it reminded us to be better […]