I can usually tell when someone has never suffered from depression (or any other mental illness). They make ill-informed, asinine comments like:
– Life is too short to be depressed.
– (Fill in the blank) has it worse than you.
– Life is so wonderful, how can you be depressed?
– Snap out of it.
– You just need to (fill in the blank).
The same thing happens with regard to suicide:
– Suicide is selfish.
– Anyone who commits suicide is a coward.
So yeah, that’s how I can tell that someone hasn’t suffered that pain. And you know what, I’m so glad they haven’t. Because it’s awful.
But I’m not so glad they say hurtful things. I don’t think the comments are coming from a hurtful place. It’s a place of misunderstanding. It assumes that mental illness is rational, that it can be reasoned with. It can’t. Suicidal ideation and suicide are horrible and people who suffer from depression and their loved ones should try to get help. But I don’t think it helps anyone to judge something we don’t understand.
What I do know is that he was brilliant and funny. I can think of so many great performances. FernGully, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society, Nine Months, Toys, Aladdin. What a wonderful gift to share. Remarkable humor, intelligence, and kindness.