Monday, August 18, 2014

Laughter and tears

Last week we were stunned by the death of comedian and actor Robin Williams. This extremely gifted actor had made many of us laugh through the years—and had also brought to life serious subjects in his many roles. This brings to mind what Bob Hope once said, "I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful."

Yet, though Williams had the ability to "transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable," he apparently suffered from severe depression. We never know what lies underneath the jokes and laughter, do we? In fact, I have heard it said that clowns are sometimes the saddest of people.

What I hope may come from the untimely death of Williams is some broad and deep discussion on the topic of depression, from which an estimated one in 10 U.S. adults suffers, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Despite those high numbers (which are on the increase, according to statistics), the illness still carries with it a stigma that is not attached to such things as cancer, heart disease, diabetes or any other illness. Wouldn't it be wonderful if that stigma could be shed so that more people would feel free to seek help and would feel supported by family and friends?

If you are one of those who suffers from any form of depression, I encourage you to find the help you need. In addition, if you are able, please share your story with others so we can raise awareness. It's 2014. It's really time to let go of the stigma that surrounds this painful and sometimes debilitating illness. It's time to be silent no more—to shed some light on this topic that's so painful for so many.

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