Debunking depression myths

Robin Williams’ suicide shines a spotlight on the difficult subject of mental illness, and why depression should be talked about to help those suffering. We cannot possibly know what’s happening inside the minds of others, as evidenced by Monday’s loss of a comedic genius. Many wear a mask to hide the darkness. Tuesday night, a young woman who works hard to keep herself in the light shares her message concerning her condition.

“I basically fell in a hole – the only way to describe the episodes is to lose grip on reality and what’s going on around you,” said 20-year-old Genevieve Green who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder seven years ago.

Ever since the age of 13, Green has had periods of extreme elation and deep depression. The down times included feelings of lethargy, hopelessness, worthlessness, apathy, loss of passion for favorite activities and over or under-eating to fill an empty space.

“What they need is your support, your patience – need somebody to listen. Don’t need someone to tell you to snap out of it or everything’s going to be okay.”

Robin Williams was also vocal about his depression and his substance abuse issues. Doctors say alcohol and drugs may provide a short-term relief to the pain, but they make the illness a lot worse.

“On the surface, he had it all, didn’t he? Talent, money, good family, fans,” said Dr. Thomas Jensen of the International Bipolar Foundation. “But when you are in that deep dark depression, all of that fades into the background and all you can think about is how terrible you feel.”

Dr. Jensen says depression can be treated with therapy, medication or both and people should not be afraid to get treatment.

“Depression is a biochemical disorder, it has nothing to do with character weakness or some actual shortcoming in an individual.”

Green admits she thought about suicide, but she never tried to take her life. She takes medication every day and knows she will have to monitor her disorder for the rest of her life. Part of her therapy: speaking to school kids, medical students and anyone who will listen about her bipolar journey. She wants to reduce the stigma of mental illness and encourage people to have hope.

“Being stable is the best thing ever!” Exclaimed Green. “Your whole life opens up, you can do anything you put your mind to.”

There is a lot of help out there; the San Diego Access and Crisis Line is (888) 724-7240, and there is a list of local services on Green says she could not have gotten to this place of stability without her family, especially her mother. So lean on your support system – those people are crucial.

Categories: KUSI