Did you know that over 350 million people suffer from some sort of depression worldwide? Did you know that children, not included in this statistic, can suffer from it as well? Did you know that only a small percentage of depressed people have access to treatment?
Matt Walsh wrote a very unkind post about Robin Williams and his suicide. It is not only unkind towards Williams, but towards his family and friends, towards all people who struggle with depression, towards families and friends who are dealing with suicide, and towards every human being who cares about other people.
Actually, I’m glad Walsh wrote this piece. It exposes his usual disdain for real live people, his frustration with their inability to fix themselves into what he thinks they should be, and his obsession with applying a superficial layer of religious fantasy over our broken world and our struggles within it. Not only that, but it is a prime example of how unkindness is not necessarily rooted in a wicked personality, but can simply be the bad fruit of ignorance and confusion.
So I would like to help Matt Walsh and his fans understand depression, suicide, and humans.
First of all, I googled “clinical depression” and this is the first entry that came up. There are also pictures of Robin Williams everywhere, indicating that people want to understand this disease. Apparently something Walsh isn’t interested in.
How is clinical depression caused?
- Biological differences
- Brain chemistry
- Inherited traits
- Life events
Here are just a few the signs of clinical depression:
- depressed mood
- no pleasure in most activities
- weight and appetite gain or loss
- insomnia or increased desire to sleep
- restlessness or slowed behavior
- feelings of worthlessness, or excessive guilt
- troubling thinking and making decisions
- recurrent thoughts of suicide
Walsh doesn’t understand depression. Because he doesn’t want to. It conflicts with his religious world view. As a result, I think he has a problem understanding life. In fact, because of this I think he has difficulty understanding humans.
Walsh should notice that all five causes have nothing to do with choice. We can’t choose your biology, our brain chemistry, our hormones, our inherited traits, or our life events. These are things that happen to us. It doesn’t matter how strong or healthy we are, how intelligent or informed we are, how loved we are, how spiritual we are, how positive, prosperous, popular or determined we think we are, sometimes things beyond our control come pounding down on us without warning. Like the unrelenting surf, sometimes we can experience the seemingly inevitable erosion of all our resources. Even if we could even think in terms of decision and choice, no options seem to lie before us.
Even though I’ve never been diagnosed myself, I can remember times when I’m sure I was depressed. I also know people very close to me who have struggled with it. Depression often doesn’t make any sense. Everything should be fine. Yet somehow the organism rebels against everything we believe and know to be true and gets depressed anyway. There’s nothing we can seem to do about it. We fall into a black hole, and most if not all of the above signs of clinical depression appear on the scene and establish dominion over our lives.
Walsh’s argument is:
- You can choose not to kill yourself. It all comes down to choice. In other words, with just the right amount of willpower you can overcome all obstacles in your life. Not only does Walsh seem vastly ignorant of Paul’s struggle with the will, but he also seems completely ignorant of how much more difficult it is to will something when all our resources are weakened, inhibited and even paralyzed by factors beyond our control.
- Just be joyful! Walsh believes that we can debate drugs and therapy all we want, but in the end the only thing that beats depression is “joy”. It is a clear indicator that he used the deeply theological word “joy” rather than “happy”, because Walsh believes that if you have the light inside you, then darkness can’t dwell there at the same time. If we are truly joyful, we can’t be sad. If we are truly loved, we can’t feel unworthy. If we are truly alive, we can’t think of death.
Is Walsh saying that if only Williams was smart and strong enough he would have made the right choice? If only he was a Christian? A believer? If only he was loved? If only he was truly joyful? If only he had light within him, then he wouldn’t have had this darkness?
If this is what he’s saying, he’s unbelievably ignorant of humanity. Willfully ignorant. He claims to have experienced this himself. It’s one thing to experience it, but it’s another thing to learn from it. I don’t think he learned anything. Rather, he chooses to embrace a religious wishful thinking, and to impose its ideology on everything.
- Walsh himself says wealth and popularity don’t help. I think WIlliams would agree.
- Walsh also thinks that being loved should help. I think Williams would not agree.
- Walsh also thinks that you just need to be happy. I think Williams would have a smart remark that would get us all ROTFL!
Walsh closes with, “There is always hope!” Is there? What about the mothers who kills their children before the invading soldiers rape, torture and murder them themselves? Is there always hope for them? Or for the starving, thirsting children in a drought-ridden country? Is there always hope for them? Or the famous, wealthy celebrity who is loved by his family and so many others, who gives happiness to millions, but who just can’t seem to overcome the insurmountable forces of depression to the point where living is not longer an option?
Wouldn’t it be nice if Walsh was right… that we could just decide to be happy and loved right now?
But that’s not life, is it?
Meet other people who are real, honest and deal with these issues in an online community, The Lasting Supper.
Read my story of Sophia who struggled with her own depression.