When I read of comedian Robin William’s suicide on August 11th, my first thoughts were of his immense talent for both comedy and drama. Very few actors can cross between the two genres with such skill. Then I began to think more about his personal life: his struggles with alcohol and drug addiction and his long term battle with depression.
For Mr. Williams, and thousands of others, suicide is the termination of a very serious mental illness. Like diabetes or other chronic illnesses, depression can most often be treated and managed. Psychotherapy, medication, exercise, and meditation are all tools that help people survive, and in many cases even overcome, the disease. But for some (too many, given the rapidly increasing rates of suicide in the United States), the illness takes a deeper hold. Like many cancers that still remain untreatable, some types of mental illness do not respond to the best medicine and technology offers.
The deep self-loathing that is sometimes present with the darkest depressive episodes is one critical risk factor for suicide. It has been widely reported that Robin Williams experienced it. Despite his success and the adoration of millions of fans around the world, his own personal self-hatred appears to have run deep. In a recent article in Psychology Today, Dr. Mark White stated, “No matter how successful the self-loather is or how much praise he or she receives from other people, something prevents the self-loather from believing he or she has value or worth”. They never find themselves worthy. This self-loathing makes seeking treatment (and consistently remaining on a treatment protocol) challenging.
If you or someone you know has these feelings, seek help now. As Dr. White stated, “If (someone) wants to overcome this problem, he or she will have to get to the source of the self-loathing—most likely with the help of a therapist—rather than simply try to beat it down with praise. Just as you can’t tell someone suffering from depression to “cheer up,” you can’t tell (someone with deep feelings of self-loathing) that ‘you’re great.’ Both problems run much deeper than that.”
At CHD, we can help positively change your life. Call any of our outpatient clinics to get connected to help now. 1-844-CHD-HELP
White, M. (2013, June 30). Do the Self-Loathing See the Same “Self” that Others Do? Psychology Today. Retrieved August 12, 2014, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/maybe-its-just-me/201306/do-the-self-loathing-see-the-same-self-others-do
Contributed by Kirk Woodring, LICSW, Vice President of Clinical Services