The death of Hollywood actor Robin Williams on 11 August 2014, reportedly caused by asphyxia, brought a slew of comments and opinion pieces in the media about depression. This after it was reported that Williams had been fighting Depression for quite a long time and that his death was purportedly a suicide case. May his soul rest in peace.
However, contrary to what others may choose to believe, Depression is Real Everywhere. Unfortunately among all the hoopla about a successful Academy Award-winning Hollywood comedic legend and millionaire who supposedly “had it all” reportedly committing suicide, conspicuous were social media posts and comments among my fellow African friends pointing to the belief that Depression is not a disease or condition. Some saying “we have people with real problems here”. Hmmn!
Well, Depression is a real illness and it does not discriminate. It is all around us. It must be extra painful for those who are battling Depression while living among some of our African communities where it might be commonly believed that Depression is for “other peoples”. Very painful and sad indeed.
Due to the misunderstanding of the condition, some actually say “get over it”; while others prescribe religion, repentance or spiritual deliverance as cures for Depression. One sad thing about Depression is that some societies label individuals who are battling Depression as just crazy, mad and sometimes stupid. As a result, they go deeper into dispair due to lack of support. Eventually they are at the risk of harming themselves or even others.
Depression is not as trivial as many in our our societies would want to believe. Most cases of Depression are results of chemical imbalances within the victim. You can’t just wish away such a condition.
In addition, please let us not confuse episodes of stress and worries on one hand, and on the other, Depression as a condition. Cases of feeling depressed because one lacks or has lost something, or misses something or someone are different from Depression itself.
Finally, to those who have battled or are battling Depression while living among societies or communities that do not believe Depression is a disease/condition, I am sorry for what beliefs of those socities have done to you. May minds of reason prevail among these communities so that those among us who are battling with Depression can get the support that they need so they can eventually get back on their feet.