Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Classic Corner: No Laughing Matter


Like many others, I was shocked to hear the news of Robin Williams' passing. He played an invaluable role in my childhood. Be it his fantastic portrayal as Genie in Aladdin, the raucous cross dressing father, who was willing to do anything to be with his children, in Mrs. Doubtfire or the re-imagined boy who never grew up in Hook, Robin put many smiles on my adolescent face. Of course, many of us were aware of his past struggles with alcohol and drugs and presumptuously assumed that those vices were the cause of his unfortunate and untimely death. However, when it was revealed that suicide was the culprit, due to depression, we all were  in disbelief. How could the funniest man in America possibly be depressed? This guy had fame, fortune, a loving family etc, etc, etc. So many questions  yet very little answers. In fact, that  seems to be the calling card of the illness known as depression. Robin's death sparked conversation on a host of topics, but it undoubtedly brought the subject of "depression" front and center and into living rooms across the world

Despite advancements of medications and  discussions dealing with the illness, depression still remains a mystery due to its' complex nature. And when it comes to the unknown, misconceptions and misnomers can reign supreme. So I would first like to take some time to debunk some of myths associated with this condition:

*People who suffer from depression are just craving attention:
I always find this one to be quite humorous due to the fact that one  of the most common symptoms of depression is withdrawal. Many individuals who suffer from this disease prefer to be  isolated. Some feel that they will be ridiculed or ostracized for expressing themselves. Others determine that they are strong enough to battle or cure themselves. Then there are some who wish not to be a burden to their loved ones. Whatever the reason, those who suffer from depression usually don't use it as a tool to garner special "attention".

*People who are depressed are simply "sad".
Although sadness may be a prominent, emotional symptom of depression, it is not the only negative feeling that sufferers endure: Frustration, aggression, irritability, anxiety and even
stoicism (the state of not feeling emotion at all) are all  stages that an individual can experience.

*Depressed individuals are sensitive and weak willed.
Depression is an illness that not only affects a person's emotions, but often times can negatively affect a person's mental and social state. Therefore, depression can be classified as a biological  plight! When someone has a cold or the flu, we don't label that person as being weak because they have contracted the illness. Depression should be viewed in the same manner. This is not a situational condition that individuals choose to have due to self-pity! Some of the strongest and most talented people, who have left lasting impressions, have battled this scourge!

The issue of depression becomes even more compounded when you add gender and race in the equation. The stereotypical, westernized  depiction of the  alpha"male" is one who is strong and impervious to pain (especially of the emotional sort). So if a man is depressed, it may be very difficult for him to express his feelings with out being stigmatized. This is not to say that females do not equally suffer with such reservations when dealing with these issues, but some males may refuse to seek help because their masculinity would come into question, therefore exacerbating the issue.

The world of mental illness is still one that is approached with  much trepidation in the African American community. Oftentimes, individuals who suffer from such maladies may be characterized as "crazy" or, even worst, not in God's favor due to the fact that faith and prayer could  not alleviate them of their "issues". Prayer can be a powerful force in dealing with  such problems.  However, not everyone subscribes to the same spiritual practices. And even if prayer is a tool that  the sufferer decides to utilize , it should not be the only method  used in combating this menace. Furthermore, in some sectors of the African American community, an ardent distrust of health care practitioners exists, thus preventing many people from receiving proper medical care. This may be due in part of the fear of medication , specifically its' side effects,  the possibility of dependency or  premature death. Whatever the reasoning, such a belief system does more harm than good in the long run.

Depression is such an expansive subject. Therefore, my intentions were not to create an "All in one guide".Rather, I wanted to give  a snapshot of this pervasive issue and spark dialogue. There is a bevy of reading materials, videos, and other resources that are readily available to aid in the understanding, treating, and ultimately,   the overcoming  of this sickness. To those who are suffering, if no one else has told you this, let me be one of the ones to do so: you are not weak, emotional, being punished, abnormal or worthless! On the contrary, you are strong, you are bright, you are gifted and you do matter! .Most importantly, you can  and  deserve to be happy ! There are ones who may not be able to fully understand what you are experiencing, being that we are all created differently, but can somewhat empathize with your pain and who are willing and eager to help you. Drag that anchor, one step or crawl at a time, reach out, and allow them to do so! To those who may live or know of someone who suffers from depression, continue to to be their support, exercise patience, avoid ridicule or patronization and educate yourself on their condition. These steps will enable you to help them best. -CN

Our words may be smeared..and our articles are tattered
The body of  our works coming off as being fractured
While language can be off..And the diction sounds broken
Where pennies for  our thoughts looses value when they're spoken
But what they have here,  it can never be enough..
To dishevel all of those who are diamonds in the rough
As we shine from heavens to  illuminates the hell
That we suffer on this plane..where the aviators failed.
A snail's pace, still equates to progress

-DS (K.O.S)


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this Sherman, thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank's for sharing Sherman. There are times when people are crying out for help and we just don't hear them.