Why we're here...

Love and marriage are the greatest adventures in life, and they point they way to our relationship with the Almighty.

We're honored to be a member of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association...click on their logo to visit them.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Goodbye, Robin, But We Really Don't Care

Change of pace today, in honor of the late Robin Williams.

The good that Robin Williams gave us is incalulable. He made us laugh when we felt like crying, and his movies gave us hope when we wanted to give up.

He put his heart into everything he did, including his work for St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

And we failed him. And we will continue to fail him.

It's no secret that he suffered from depression, an illness exacerbated by substance abuse (cocaine and alcohol). He was clean and sober from 1983 to 2003, and then started drinking again. He went through at least two stints of rehabilitation, one in 2006 and one earlier this year.

So where did we fail him?

First, by stigmatizing depression. It's an illness, and it is treatable. But our society usually doesn't want to look at it that way - we far prefer to see depression as a personal failing.

Come on, cheer up. Other people have it worse than you.

Smile! Do something fun!

Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone. (Ironic thing to tell a comedian, eh?"

Would you say this crap to a cancer patient? To a veteran who left two legs and an arm in Iraq?

But we'll feed this sort of happy-talk nonsense to someone who's depressed. Great thing to do - make them feel worse about themselves, and make it even harder to look for help, because it seems to be a tacit admission of weakness, and failure.

We do it because we don't want to have to care. We feel we have "compassion fatigue", and yet another thing to care about will just flat out take some of the fun from our lives. If we think the depressed folk can cure themselves, then, by gum - let 'em do it, if they're worthy!

And we're afraid that next year it might be us. If we ignore the possibility and the consequences, maybe that particular death angel will fly past our hiding place. Kind of like "don't ask, don't tell".

Insurance companies don't help, by the way. They'll pay for therapy for, say, six visits to a mental health professional. After that, you're on your own.

To make things worse, we support the efforts of those who would help a depressed person immolate himself with drugs and alcohol. We add tinder to the pyre.

How? We watch television programs supported by beer ads. Those cute Budweiser Clydesdales...they work for a company that provides the tools of self-destruction to thousands, maybe millions of people.

"Drink responsibly" is on every ad, yeah. But they want you to drink.

And drugs?

We've tolerated local legalization of marijuana. Instead of trying to limit the use of mind-altering substances, we're expanding it. Smart.

We tolerate politicians with a history of drug use. Anyone can make a mistake, but shouldn't our elected officials be held to a higher standard? Don't the responsibilities we place in their hands - our future, and our childrens' future - demand that they be better?

Or are we voting our pocketbook? Are we voting to be able to buy a new car every three years, when the warranty runs out?

We enjoy drug and drunkenness jokes in entertainment. Someone's high, and it's funny. A nondrinker gets "wasted", and it hilarious.

And we don't demand laws that would drastically diminish the drug trade. We don't pay for enough police, or for an educational system that would give kids hope for a future rather than the temptation of using or selling drugs. It's not that we're overtaxed. We simply would prefer to see the money used elsewhere.

Enjoy the highway beautification project, but don't take the inner-city offramp. You may not survive.

And so, dear Robin Williams, goodnight and goodbye.

We wish you hadn't died.

But we did nothing to protect your weakness, and we'll do nothing to protect those who fight the same demons.

Nor because we can't. Because it's not convenient, and we don't want to.

This post is linked to Calm-Healthy-Sexy's GET REAL party. Click on the logo below and drop by!


  1. I had a similar conversation last night with my book club group. One of my sisters has suffered with depression most of her life, so she had some good things to share with us--what helps and what doesn't help. Depression is definitely an illness that deserves more respectful treatment. Thanks for doing your part here to bring that to light, Andrew.

    1. Thanks for chiming in on that, Lisa. We really need a conversation, a national one, to learn effective ways to help the depressed.

      I wish Robin William's death would galvanize that. But it hasn't, and it won't.

      It's up to us, I guess.

  2. Depression and grief (not the same thing at all, but somewhat related) are so hard! And our society is especially inept at dealing with them.

    As you've pointed out, meaningless cliches do more harm than good. Even well-meaning friends more often get it wrong than right (including myself). Less compassionate folks are almost certain to do more harm than good.

    There are no easy answers.

    But it is amazing how much a few words can sometimes mean. Sometimes, having someone just let me know they recognized my sorrow made a huge difference to me.

    Thank you for posting on this difficult topic!

    1. Joe, you're square on target - just recognizing someone's sorrow makes a huge difference.

      Thank you for that.