Compassion for Robin: My TV Interview About Robin Williams, Depression and Suicide





"I kind of see myself in this glass box, surrounded by darkness. And through that glass box I can see my healthy self. I can see my happy self. And I’m trying to push through it." 

Last Tuesday morning, I was not feeling well. But I threw on a dress, put on some lipstick and dragged myself to work. About 30 minutes after I arrived to work, the interim executive director asked me to return a call from KTVU news reporter John Fowler. He was looking for someone to talk about depression and give their thoughts on actor Robin Williams, 63 ending his life. Within 45 minutes I was on camera

People were, and still are, terribly upset over Robin Williams’ death. There was so much speculation throughout the internet. Of course, there were the people calling him a coward, selfish, etc. But they don’t understand how depression works. I’ve lived with it for about 21 years, I know. 

One of the reasons why I did the interview is I  wanted people to have compassion for the man. Forget the rumors, the speculations, the trolls. Forget those who are not knowledgeable about depression and are saying cruel things. The man was in deep, emotional pain. We don’t know what his life was like when the cameras were off. We don’t know what struggles he endured before he became a star. No, I didn’t want to see him go out like that, but for him to be in such agony that he would leave behind the fame and his family, I can’t help but have compassion for him. Depression doesn’t care about your race, gender, class, hair length, eye color, favorite NFL team, if you’re a Trojan or a Bruin. Depression can affect anyone. 



Jenee Darden with reporter John Fowler 


Reporter John Fowler was very understanding. He made me feel comfortable. He didn’t do the story for sensationalism. He wanted people to get an understanding of how depression feels for people. Plus, he has loved ones living with mental health challenges so he came to the interview with compassion. 

Another reason why I spoke on camera is because I know there are people living with depression, watching television thinking they’re the only struggling with this condition. They may think they’re the only one whose life sucks and is gloomy. I wanted them to see they are not alone in their struggle. 

Thank you to everyone who sent me a kind message about the interview. I have received majority positive feedback. I’ve heard through my family grapevine that some people didn’t approve of me disclosing on camera. I expected some to react like that, but I didn’t do it for them. Plus, this isn’t my first time disclosing. I've disclosed on the podcast I host for work, social media, and Huffington Post. It's not a secret anymore. 

Feedback like this from a college professor that follows me on Facebook, make me happy I went on air:  
"One day I will summon the courage to publicly admit that I, too, have been diagnosed with depression. Until then, I will just stand back and let those more courageous than I speak." 

 I  also spoke up because people shouldn’t be ashamed about something they didn’t ask for. Trust me, I’m not jumping in line with my hand raised asking God to activate my depression. I hope that when a friend or loved one tells you they have any kind of mental illness, that you listen to them. What those of us experience with depression is not easy. Luckily, it can be managed. 

I strongly believe in education. I hope people learned something new about depression from my interview, even if it's just that you can recover from it. 

For those living with depression, reach out to people. Reach out to your loved ones and tell them how they can support you. I’ve reached out to people recently and it felt good. Don’t be ashamed and have compassion for yourself.

One of things I said that was left out the interview is that I have more good days, than blue days. Thankfully, most of my days are bright, or average. But it takes some work. Aside from exercise, I have to make sure I eat healthy and get enough sleep. Lack of sleep is so not good for my mental health. I practice mindfulness to keep my mind from racing. I have books and methods I use to keep me thinking positively. And when I need to go, I'll see a therapist. 

Robin Williams left smiles on many faces during his lifetime. Hopefully his death is raising mental health awareness and saving many lives. 


Watch the interview here

Comments

  1. Jenee, good job! It's hard to believe there is still a stigma. I don't "blame" my friends who have depression any more than I do my friends who have cancer or MS or scoliosis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I replied to this comment but it went away. Sorry about that. But you're right, it's unfortunate that this is still a stigma. I'm glad you're sensitive to your friends with depression. People need to educated themselves on this issue.

      Delete

Post a Comment