Author Topic: Robin Williams, and mood disorders in the news...  (Read 3532 times)

HSG

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Robin Williams, and mood disorders in the news...
« on: August 14, 2014, 03:24:10 PM »
So I can't help but get a little bummed out about the suicide of Robin Wililams, to the point of it hurting a bit when I read articles about it.  Sounds like some of the details may still be shifting slightly, his wife mentioned he was sober, but in the early stages of Parkinsons Disease, but still the fact that he was depressed (and seemed at least to a casual observer to also entertain "mania", at least interms of his on stage persona), makes it hit somewhat close to home.

Perhaps a bit of good to come out of all this is at least it gets people talking about depression - I posted on facebook just to say to reach out to people in our lives who may be in need, because you never know when a small gesture may make a big difference to someone struggling with depression.

This article was also interesting, around whether creative types may be prone to bipolar, or whether its just a random association.  I don't know, for me the jury's still out - what I can say is that, at least in my work life, I know of more-creative and less-creative types, and generally the more-creative types (myself in that group, if I put modesty aside) tend to struggle more with moods than the less-creative ones.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2014/08/13/robin-williams-is-there-a-link-between-genius-and-mental-illness/14016255/

interested to hear other's opinions...

Daniel F

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Re: Robin Williams, and mood disorders in the news...
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2014, 03:33:26 PM »
Seems like an appropriate time to post this quote from David Foster Wallace, who also took his own life in his battle with depression:

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”
-David Foster Wallace

paulm

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Re: Robin Williams, and mood disorders in the news...
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2014, 10:50:40 PM »
Hello HSG. I agree that Robin Williams death was upsetting. However as one of the symptoms of Parkinsons is increased depression in some, I can see how that might have pushed him over the edge. For those of us with Parkinsons, it's a daily battle as one problem after another slowly pops up until the end. For some people with Parkinsons that can be pretty harsh. Although it's often a slow moving illness, it's always there and it slowly gets worse.

 Interesting that you should mention creativity and mental illness. I can't say whether I agree or disagree that there is a link. To me the jury is still out. I just wrote about it on another forum and because I'm lazy(LOL) I will just cut and paste part of my answer here.

 There is no doubt in my mind that a lot of people with bipolar(the mental illness I am most familiar with) are very creative, but as a whole are we more creative than others?

There have been a ton of studies done on it. Some say yes, some say no. There are several problems when trying to come up with accurate statistics. The first, who is really mentally ill and even when that is decided, were they ever properly surveyed to determine their creativity.

Until recently most with a diagnosed mental illness hid that fact from family, friends and society when possible. This did not matter whether they were rich or poor, creative or not and they certainly did not take part in any sort of survey to determine genius or creativity . That makes it very difficult to get any sort of accurate study done. Additionally,because of their illness, many worked at substandard jobs thus limiting their chances to become creative. Work a 10-12 hr day at heavy labour and it's difficult to be creative.(or don't work at all)

Even today, the number of people with bipolar is more of a guess than an accurate figure with guesses ranging from 1% to 5% or between 70 and 350 million people. That's a heck of a large range,automatically building in problems with accuracy of any study.

Plus a lot of the studies and articles are based on anecdotal material. Many articles quote Kay Redfield Jamison's book Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament. Touched With Fire presents the argument that bipolar disorder, and affective disorders more generally, may be found in a disproportionate number of people in creative professions such as actors, artists, comedians, musicians, authors, performers and poets.

Even if that were true, that is putting a severe limit on what is creativity. A civil engineer may be very creative and come up with wonderful designs, but Ms Jamison doesn't seem to count that type of creativity in her count. Nor does she include the pure creative genius of diamond cutters, some diamond thieves and countless other professions who may be just a creative, but suffer from no higher or lower degree of mental illness than the rest of the population.

Most people that I know well that have bipolar are like me  Not very creative when they are depressed, normally creative when they are normal and when hypomanic they show varying degrees of extra creativity.

 An interesting article in Scientific American. In it they quote a variety of items, but in particular a Swedish study about creativity. Swedish studies tend to be reasonably accurate because they are the only ones who have done long term studies on their population. I mean long term, up to 40 yrs and involving up to 1.2 million people in this case. 

 The article http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/2013/10/03/the-real-link-between-creativity-and-mental-illness/

  draws some interesting conclusions about mental illness and creativity. Take Care. paul m

 Hello Daniel. I'll disagree with Mr Wallace a little bit when he says "The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill themselves doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing."

 At the point just prior to one of my attempts, I felt that my life was hopeless and death seemed the most appealing choice. There was no terror involved, I had made peace with my decision and I looked forward to dying. I was disappointed when I failed in my attempt.

 My other attempt was as a result of pretty much as Mr Wallace has described, I felt trapped between a rock and a hard place and I chose what I considered the less painful way out. Take Care. paul m

 

Frankiebones

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Re: Robin Williams, and mood disorders in the news...
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2014, 08:59:38 AM »
If I just look at my circle of friends I would say that I am more creative than they are.

Peace

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Re: Robin Williams, and mood disorders in the news...
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2014, 09:11:23 AM »
Thank you HSG for bringing this topic up. I was thinking of doing so, but didn't have the energy with so much going on.

It is my opinion that many people who are highly creative are prone to mental illness. There's no way of knowing if the mental illness contributes to the creativity or if the creativity contributes to the mental illness. Before your post I was watching some of Robin's comedy acts and I commented to my sister he may have been manic.

Through my research and my discussions with my pdoc, it's a definite that people with OCD are usually highly intelligent. While I pride myself and have always been thankful for my intelligence, I'd happily give up some of my intelligence for some relief from my OCD. I hope I didn't sound conceited by what I just said.  :-[

I said to a friend when I learned of his suicide "here come the rude and misinformed comments about mental illness and addiction being a weakness and suicide being selfish." I usually respond to people with that opinion "suicide is not a sign of weakness or of being a coward, it's simply an attempt to end pain and suffering that has become unbearable." I receive a lot of positive feedback with that statement.

Robin Williams was a comedy genius and from the nice stories (not just from the media) I've read since his passing, he seemed to genuinely be a wonderful person. He certainly provided many hours of enjoyment and laughter to me. R.I.P. Robin!

Daniel F

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Re: Robin Williams, and mood disorders in the news...
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2014, 11:48:44 AM »
Hey Paul, I agree that the quote I posted probably doesn't apply to every situation. I think the author was referring to a specific state that someone could be in (i.e. "psychotically depressed") in which the pain the person is in is so tremendous that death seems a better alternative.

At the end of the day, I view suicide as a choice, just like any other choice a person has. It's a fundamental human right to choose, I believe, "to be or not to be," to borrow from Shakespeare. Why someone might choose one way or the other, however, can vary depending on the individual and their circumstances.

Dragonfly

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Re: Robin Williams, and mood disorders in the news...
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2014, 12:38:54 PM »
It was very upsetting to hear about Robin Williams. He must have been in so much pain to do what he did. He must have seen no other way out.
Robin Williams was said to be a gentle, friendly and caring person. Didn't portray himself as a big movie star. Through some of his acting roles you could see the pain. Some of his other roles you could see the mania.
Some people say he was a coward and selfish to leave his family. When you are that severely depressed your self worth is zero. You feel that your family would be better off without you.
I think it has hit me so hard is because I have been in that place of severe depression. One of my suicide attempts was more a cry for help.
Other times I was very close to suicide. The way I was going to end it would have been final. For some reason maybe cowardice I didn't follow through.
When I was in this state of severe depression I did not realize I had manic-depression as it used to be called. It was very frightening and I felt so ashamed.
I am sure that I am not the only one on this forum that has felt that way.
Robin Williams was self medicating himself with drugs and alcohol.
I am probably writing what most people know already. I am not as eloquent as some of you that write. I do my best.

Dragonfly

paulm

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Re: Robin Williams, and mood disorders in the news...
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2014, 03:09:27 PM »
Hello Daniel. I'll agree with that. Take Care. paul m

Hello Dragonfly. You said " When you are that severely depressed your self worth is zero. You feel that your family would be better off without you." I agree 100% with you. I've often felt that way. Take Care. paul m

momfellinglost

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Re: Robin Williams, and mood disorders in the news...
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2014, 12:29:31 PM »
It is always sad when some one makes the choice he did (no matter the reason). My wish is that those who make this choice don't see is that they leave behind those who will forever wonder if they could have done more. It may not be true but they do it along with the grief and pain my hope for his family is that they can support each other. It must be so hard to go through you pain in such a public way with so many people giving opinions about your loved one. I hope that it can help one family get the support they arent' getting now.