Despair, Distress, Depression, Death… Indications that Human Consciousness needs to Shift
by Member of Wildflowers’ Movement
Since the passing of one of my favorite comedians and actors Robin Williams, I have been hearing the word “depression” being called a “disease” over and over again. It is not a “disease”, unless you have a different definition of the word “disease”. In the current medical model, a disease is a particular abnormal, pathological condition that affects part or all of an organism. Except for a few identifiable brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, there are “neither biological or chemical tests nor biopsy or necropsy findings for verifying or falsifying DSM diagnoses”, i.e. there are no objective methods for detecting the presence or absence of mental illness (Szasz 2008).
Further, it is disheartening to hear some people referring to suicide so negatively, and judging Robin Williams for being “weak”. Assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal in European countries such as: Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Do we judge abortion in the same way? There is such stigma and judgement that comes with suicide and euthanasia in the United States. In the movie “Patch Adams” (1998), a semi-autobiographical story, Robin Williams plays a doctor, Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams who talks about death. He says, “What’s wrong with death Sir? What are we so morbidly afraid of? Why can’t we treat death with a certain amount of humanity, and dignity, and decency, and God forbid, maybe even humor? Death is not the enemy gentlemen, if we are going to fight a disease, let’s fight one of the most terrible diseases of all … indifference” (Patch Adams 1998). Through my personal experiences, and through my research studies, I have found that despair, distress, depression, and even suicide, are understandable psychological reactions to the stress and violent distortions of the modern world. Perhaps, we should start by judging our society, our community and ourselves, if we are being indifferent and contributing to the stress of this “modern world.”
So many of us have tried numerous methods to treat our downs, including our “despairs”, “distresses”, “depressions”, and “other issues”. Searching for the root issues such as: anger, trauma, and grief are just a few examples. Those of us who have suffered or suffer from “distress” are usually highly aware and sensitive. Some of us are creatively gifted and intuitive. Thus, we find it difficult to feel “normal” in a society that places value on things that are leading humanity and the environment to destruction. We also find it difficult to connect with others on a personal level because we are disheartened by the amount of greed, cruelty, injustice, destruction, and abuse that goes on in this hostile world. Because of this awareness, we are simply so surprised that others are living in denial and have the ability to just ignore these issues and continue living in indifference.
I agree with Dr. Stephan Harding as he says, “I think if you don’t get depressed, you need to see a therapist…I mean on this issue. There is something wrong with you if you are not profoundly saddened or depressed by the state of things at the moment. You need help to work out why you are not depressed. Not enough people are depressed…many people are in denial.”
Robin Williams lived a deep and meaningful life, and he gave so much of himself to our society. I hope we can all offer just a small percentage of what he offered. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “It is not the length of life, but the depth.”