The message from Robin Williams and his struggle with depression and addiction

The world is a bit sad today as the news of Robin Williams' death traveled this morning. Even the universe seemed to sense the loss of this truly iconic legend as it was raining when I heard of his death. I imagine the ripple effect the news has on the moods of many, particularly those that knew him. And, at the same time, his death speaks to the powerful grasp addiction and depression can have on individuals who struggle with it. And the harsh consequences of it.

Addiction and depression are chronic diseases and don't "go away". While there are periods the disease goes into remission, even Robin Williams spoke to the seductive and sabotaging whispers of addiction (and depression), in an interview he did with Barbara Walters. And yet, the stigma attached to these diseases can produce such stress and distress for many people, that it creates a barrier preventing one from reaching out and getting help. While I don't yet know the details of what happened this fatal morning, I do wonder what happened and what the role of so many factors may have played.

To me, the message that this revealed is that we need to talk about these difficult things. We need to dialogue about it and not sweep it under the rug because it's uncomfortable or stressful. There are so many ways to get help, help and be helped, that I hope will be utilized to prevent another tragedy. What can you do?

1. Contact a local professional who works with addiction and/or mental health to find out how to take care of yourself and communicate your concerns to the other.

2. Go on the internet and find a support group

3. Call a crisis line if you are thinking about suicide. 1-800-273-8255 is one type to call and is available 24/7.

4. Go to the ER or call the police if you are worried about someone's intentions.

5. Be vulnerable. And that's okay. Talk about what's going on with you.

The world will never have another Robin Williams. Let's prevent the same thing from happening with others that struggle with addiction and/or depression.

“That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?” (Dead Poet's Society, 1989)

In fact, I just got a notice in the mail that the Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk will be September 20th. It is to support suicide prevention. www.chicagowalk.org to find out more.

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    Dr. Serena Wadhwa

    Serena Wadhwa, Psy.D., LCPC, CADC, received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from ISPP-Chicago, specializing in health psychology. Dr. Wadhwa is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, has a Master’s in Counseling and is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. She is the Director of TriQual Living Center (www.triqualiving.com), providing education and therapy on addiction/recovery and chronic stress, burnout and compassion fatigue. She provides individual therapy at the Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital Outpatient Group Practice and is an assistant professor/program coordinator at Governors State University, as well as adjunct faculty at a couple community colleges. Dr. Wadhwa works in a variety of roles as a consultant, presenter, trainer, lecturer, author, and contributor to ChicagoNow. She has presented on various topics in the Midwest and published various articles on topics relating to stress, addiction, and health. She also develops activities for a variety of psycho-educational lectures, and has several published. She is also a member of several professional organizations. She has a book on "Stress in the Modern World" coming out in 2014 and several e-books this year. Her latest project is an Internet Radio Show, Moving Forward: Wellness One Step at a Time. http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2324/moving-forward-wellness-one-step-at-a-time

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