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Robin Williams Didn't Recover From Depression, But That Doesn't Mean You Can't

13/08/2014 17:15 BST | Updated 13/10/2014 10:59 BST
Ben Gabbe via Getty Images

If you haven't heard the news yet, beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams has sadly passed away, purportedly due to suicide. Like I'm sure yours was, my Facebook minifeed was filled with RIP statuses and heartfelt commiserations; this was touching to see, however, there was one Facebook status that alarmed me greatly.

"If Robin Williams, with all the money and resources he had at his disposal, wasn't able to recover from depression, then what hope do I have?"

Even more alarming was how many other people had commented on the post saying, "I've been wondering that all day, too."

So, I'm going to give you five reasons why you CAN recover from depression, even though Robin Williams sadly didn't.

1) Yes, Robin Williams had the resources at his disposal to seek treatment for his depression - but that doesn't mean that he did seek treatment. There are many reasons why many people with depression DON'T seek treatment, and we don't know whether Robin Williams was or wasn't.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOU RECOVER: Seek treatment.

2) Seeking treatment for depression (or any other mental illness for that matter) is very different to seeking treatment for a broken arm, for example. When you have a broken arm, "getting better" doesn't involve doing a whole lot more than turning up to hospital and having an operation. Most people who've recovered from a severe depression will tell you that it's a lot of hard work, requiring copious amounts of discipline, determination and self-analysis to understand what's triggering your depression and then to learn how to manage those triggers so that they no longer trigger you. Even if Robin Williams was seeking help, was he putting in the hard work needed to recover? Perhaps. But perhaps not, also.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOU RECOVER: Commit yourself to your treatment.

3) There are a wide variety of treatment options available to someone with depression. Is it possible that even if Robin Williams was seeking help, he hadn't managed to find a treatment that he responded to, yet? Is it possible that if he continued looking, he would've found one that worked? Yes, it's definitely possible.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOU RECOVER: Keep searching to find a treatment that works. If one doesn't, try another.

4) Recovery from depression can be significantly derailed by certain behaviours, such as drug and alcohol abuse. Was Robin Williams abusing drugs and alcohol? Again, I'm not sure. But statistics suggest that as many as one in three people who suffer from depression also have a substance abuse problem, so it's possible.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOU RECOVER: Lay off the drugs and alcohol.

5) And here's the last point that I want to make: if you suffer from depression, you may reach a point where you feel suicidal - and when you reach that point, you face a choice:

Do I end things here? Call it quits for good?

Or, do I push through my pain and do everything in my power to recover?

The choice is ALWAYS your choice to make. Many people, including Robin Williams, have chosen the former. But that doesn't mean that if they chose to push through they wouldn't have recovered.

How do I know that?

Because many people have also chosen the latter, and gone on to live happy, healthy fulfilling lives.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this:

You control your own destiny.

One person's plight with depression - even if that person is a celebrity that we all know and love - has no relevance to your own plight with depression.

Just because Robin Williams didn't manage to recover, it absolutely does not mean that you also won't.

Just seek the right help, and never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up, and you can do it.

I promise you.

~~~

If you enjoyed reading this post, you're welcome to download a free copy of my memoir here. Recounting my struggle and eventual triumph over depression, it's been described by bestselling author Nick Bleszynski as "beautifully written, powerful, heartfelt, insightful and inspiring ... a testament to hope."