Depression: Robin Williams, Linkin Park and Me

Three years ago, almost to the day, Robin Williams killed himself. Long-term depression seems to have been a contributing factor.

Three months ago Linkin Park’s lead singer Chester Bennington killed himself. Once again, long-term depression reared its ugly head.

It’s a reminder of my own struggles with anxiety and depression.

After Chester Bennington’s death one of my readers, Bob, sent in lyrics pointing out that, “Some think the song ‘Heavy’ was a cry for help.”

I don’t like my mind right now

Stacking up problems that are so unnecessary

I’m holding on

Why is everything so heavy?

Holding on

So much more than I can carry

I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down

I’m moved by “One More Light” which tells of a life cut short. The song was written for a friend who died too young of cancer, but after Bennington’s death the words take on new meaning.

Should’ve stayed, were there signs, I ignored?

Can I help you, not to hurt, anymore?

We saw brilliance, when the world, was asleep

There are things that we can have, but can’t keep

If they say

Who cares if one more light goes out?

In a sky of a million stars

It flickers, flickers

Who cares when someone’s time runs out?

If a moment is all we are

We’re quicker, quicker

Who cares if one more light goes out?

Well I do

Bob ponders,

I now realize that his songs were “journals” of his constant battle with depression. It’s sad thinking of people battling like that, being traumatized and fighting every day to keep their head above water.

He was talking to “us” all along, voicing his inner battles. He literally used his platform to help people thru his music. Very touching.

Here’s what I’ve learned  

I’ve gone the rounds with depression a couple of times in my life and I’ve endured at least three major bouts of anxiety — punctuated by moments of terror throughout each day, and accompanied by impulses for self-harm.

Since I’m shrink-averse I’ve never seen one. I wouldn’t recommend self-therapy for everyone and some people simply need medication. But my self-therapy has worked spectacularly for me. Here’s what I’ve done:

Meditation: Each day, right after I wake up I focus on my breath for 10 minutes. When I notice my mind is wandering I bring it back to my breath.

When I first began the practice it felt like I was “failing meditation” but the constant refocusing is the point — that’s what rewires the brain.

What works best for me is to begin by focusing on something that needs healing — my knees, or something. Invoking the placebo effect can’t hurt, and it really calms my mind down. So I typically do that for the first five minutes and then focus on healing my mind; letting things go.

Today it’s become very easy to let go of thoughts I don’t want in my everyday life. I’m a master at it now.

It’s a process. At first it took every bit of willpower to keep from being drawn back into the darkness. But what was once a mix of will and meditation grew to automatic letting go.

Ode to joy: I once heard that people who are depressed are not able to connect to joy. So every morning after I meditate I do an ode to joy.

I figure that if I can feel depressed and anxious about nothing, I might as well feel joyful about nothing too!

Laughter is actually powerful medicine, so I try to laugh everyday!

Even if you take meds, all of this can help!

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 10, 2017, in psychology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. my personal experience with depression has always revolved around wrong life choices. Mostly different types of addictions. I was always cross addicted. moving from one to another, starting one addictive habit in the hopes that I can get rid of the old one. Never really worked, They would eventually gang up on me. All of these people have been addicted to one thing or the other and depression was a symptom of that addiction. When you rape yourself, the body bites back in revulsion.

    I am sure that they must have had some scarring incidents in their childhood. my 2 cents…

    • Thanks for sharing about your experience with this.

      Both my depression and my anxiety usually come from trying to meet too-high expectations and then experiencing anxiety or depression when I can’t meet them. I have to learn to be easier on myself, too.

      There’s a helpful book called “The Four Agreements.” I actually didn’t like reading the book — it’s a hard read, but I discussed it with a group of friends and the discussions were actually really interesting. One agreements is “do your best.” I first interpreted that as “be perfect.” But that’s not what he meant at all. You can’t be perfect. But you can do your best. And whatever your best is will vary from time to time. You may not have the time, talent, energy to accomplish everything you’d like. Just do your best.

      • Both my depression and my anxiety usually come from trying to meet too-high expectations and then experiencing anxiety or depression when I can’t meet them. I have to learn to be easier on myself, too.”

        That’s me a lot, though I don’t usually have a hard time to be happy randomly or force it. I can get sad or depressed but not like that clinical sense. I think the chemical imbalance depression or post-partem depression women can deal with is definitely worse. But I can get negative very easily and it’s due to anxiety and tough time with coping with things not working out as I hoped or thought would. And yes, high expectations too, but I don’t like the thought of them being too high or for anyone to think they are. My ego doesn’t like that and it can create a chip on my shoulder as a result. I can create a burden having high expectations and being proud or ego driven. Then with the fact where it seems like almost every thing in my life where I felt like finally something I hoped for or wanted and had it, and then teased and don’t get it or taken away. Or a position you thought would be good and then stuff you didn’t know or changed after you already get the job and it’s worse now.

        And then you miss out on one that would have been good and would have had. Just so many regrets and like why there is anxiety which can create feeling depressed or hopeless and unfortunately what I call “guarded optimism). When something good comes up, instead of being excited, I will be very cautious almost wondering if something bad is going to happen or it not work out. You know kind of like how girls and guys can be guarded with their emotions if they’ve been burned bad in a relationship or relationships or heartbroken or hurt and take a long time to warm up again to someone. It can be like that for me with situations and stuff where guard my emotions because of previous let downs, failures and such have hurt me and I remember them. And because everytime I find something I would like it either gets taken from my grasp, one that I don’t like or something. It doesn’t help that I’m not the most patient person.

      • Yes, I have had some of the experiences you describe too. I’m trying to look at it differently now as a learning experience. I didn’t get what I wanted or hoped for but what did I learn from the journey? And what have I managed to contribute anyway? I’ve found it that helps me to be more positive. Thanks for sharing about your experience with this.

    • Yeah Chester bennington, the poor guy, was sexually abused by his uncle when he was a child. So sad. So I think that’ what lead to his very low self esteem, PTSD, which probably lead to recurring deep depression. Which leads or can lead to drug abuse. And stuff like sexual assault, rape and molestation, I think that can haunt a person for the rest of their life. So it is sad that he had to go through something horrible like that. Georgia I Think said she might being up a blog sometime about sexual abuse and effects and such.

      • Yes, since the anniversary of Robin Williams death is tomorrow I decided to write about this first and I will write more about the horrible effects of sexual abuse later, relating it back to the unfortunate and untimely death of this very talented man. Thanks for sending me some material on this Bob.

  2. Having depression is worse than having broken bones.

  3. This post offers so much incredible insight ~ from a band and comedian I both admire, to the words of this post to help understand the danger of depression.

  4. Oh I love your “self-therapy” techniques. While I understand they might not work for everyone, I do believe they could help a lot of people. Thank you for sharing!!!

  5. And it doesn’t help when people are battling their specific personal depression and issues and then you have depressing societal things going on. For example, as you know, Trump And Kim jung getting into a little man cock fight. Fricking scary, thinking about the possibility of any nuclear missiles shot off and the catastrophe that can come and then charlottesville, Virginia and the white nationalists and horrible event there with the clashing and people that died from the POS nationalist running them over. So much depressing things going on not just in the world, but here in our country. Trunp blamed OBama of course for dividing our country, but trumps been the one, lying as usual, who has caused more problems and more of a divide in america.

    • Unfortunately Trump is governing pretty much how I thought he would – except worse. Even more of everything. I thought he would be scary and he is. I never had nightmares about politics until the last few months.

  6. Great advice and I do believe meditation does help. Thanks for this post!

  7. I just wanted to add this, because I came across this song from a guy I work with. I listened more to linkin park years ago and just didn’t hear their stuff on the radio and thought some of the music wasn’t as good, but actually it just got overlooked because they ventured in different genres. I think it shows their experimentation and versatility, Incredibly talented, but so unique for a rock band, or they were like modernized with different elements. They had guitarists, drummer, singer, but also a dj and their side man, he would be the back up vocalist, very talented guy too and he could rap.

    How many rock bands have an mc? He rapped right along with Jay z with linkin park did encore with jayz back in 2004 with faint that featured the back up vocalist of linkin park as it was more rapping to that song. But this song, ventured in the like edm, pop genre, but so damn underrated. Beautiful and powerful, even if you don’t care for it, I thought I’d share it because I love finding musical “gems” I call them. I never heard the song until someone who has there albumss happened to play it and I asked the name of the song. But it’s so moving and sad too, because the song is called robot boy. It’s Chester like in 3rd person talking to “robot boy”, you only find out now that chester was “robot boy” I

  8. robot boy- The person could be a runaway teenager, a soldier or an orphan. The person is traumatized by certain events and considers his/her depression as something that can’t be explained. The song ends with a message to the person telling him/her that the world is always ready to help, and is a kinder place than what he/she perceives. The phrase “Robot Boy” is a metaphor for someone who feels or expresses little to no emotion, just like a robot does.”

    lyrics “You say the weight of the world
    Has kept you from letting go
    And you think compassion’s a flaw
    And you’ll never let it show
    And you’re sure you’ve hurt in a way
    That no one will ever know”

    and then eerie with the last lyrics “Just hold, on the weight of the world
    Will give you the strength to go”

    Even though it seems redundant, I like it, because the song is so based on the music and message, the message is not the same and continues and just the harmonizing. I love the intro with the music and even before the singing but the keyboard or mimic of it and the “oooo” harmonizing before the singing and the transition to the singing with the music. Such a climatic song, like a last hurrah which is sad too. Here’s the song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ck7Vfwo65NI

    • Thanks for sending this end. Do you think that men are more likely to be this way because they are taught to repress there emotions? I do.

      • Yeah I do. As a man, I can talk about my problems, but it’s hard and takes me awhile, because I’m too upset about whatever stress or frustration and going through and anger can be in the forefront. It’s weird because anger might be the sign of sadness for guys and what is shown through first. It’s only after the venting and cussing or whatever and stewing for a while that I may feel a little depressed or that sets in if I’m very upset and frustrated about life or work and feel overwhelmed and my ego is tested. It’s very uncomfortable to feel helpless and just “take it” and instead the emotion instead is to either fix the problem or combat it. But some problems you can’t fix and it sucks because then the wheels are spinning and just dying to do something other than talk about it and just take it up the ass pretty much.

        Just deal with it and move on, but I’m like fuck that, I don’t want to accept it and move on, fuck this, fuck you fuck fuck fuck, i’m going to find a way to get the last laugh or do something that makes me feel better even if it’ spiteful. I don’t go there but I know the emotions, it sucks though, they say revenge is not a good thing and never is, but I think the way man are taught we have to fix our problems, so instead of going around the obstacle or coping with it, you have to take your frustration out. Luckily it’s in the benign way for most men as many guys are not psychotic and have morals and it’s more from the sense of bitching, being very grumpy, cussing, etc. But the malignant part of some men unforuntately could spill over to getting in bar fights, road rage fight, domestic abuse, maybe homicide if they already had screws loose or rapoe, who knows. II think guys who abuse women and violent are scumbags but perhaps our soceity isns;t helpin and maybe if society was better even guys with screws loose would be able to cope and not abuse people. For me, having morals and a big heart and very compassionate and strong empathy, my anger is in the bitching sense ha. I get grumpy, but often don’t vent out but am quiet when I’m mad, because I’m stewing and just want to be left alone because I don’t want to have an outburst.

  9. Powerful song though huh? I’ll shorten my response above if need be, but I wanted to just add this in too

    • You bring up important thoughts from the heart. Thinking of using it in a post.

      • It’s so sad what happened in las vegas. What is eerie is some relation of what I just wrote about with men handling conflicts. And the scary thing, is this guy didn’t have signs of mental illness, he obviously has to have screws loose or lack of empathy to do the horrendous thing he did. But he was wealthy, a white male, had a girlfriend. He wasn’t a loner and was in his 60s. Not radicalized as far as I’ve heard and wouldn’t seem to be working for ISIS. ISIS claimed it, but I think it was them trying to bait our idiot president to go that road and alienate muslims more. But nothing on him would show up on background checks that would stop him from buy or owning a legal gun because he didn’t have a previous crime I believe.I’m not sure if he was a former military guy, but he was a gambler, and I think I read he lost $ gambling or a lot in vegas.

        But the crazy and sad thing is it’s not uncommon for some men to instead of dealing specifically with what bothers them, they can take this anger and want to on anyone, innocent people who have nothing to do with such men. This “me against the world” if anything despite the differences with terrorists or mass shooters is a mindset that plays in pre determined or impulsively of going on a warpath against life, against people and the lack of coping having to do with that or not letting emotions int he right way like women do. Then there’s thie nihilism that can effect men it seems too, perhaps from the burden or being more or doing more and then when that bubble is popped that they are not, they can’t handle it. I don’t know if these thoghts interest you and my other in relation to this incident as far as this aspect of men and realted to the incident. If a post does come, I don’t think a picture of the man should be posted, I know he killed himself, but guys like that don’t need anymore attention to their face or name. But their name left out and picture left out and but talk about these things.

      • What he did is not normal. I wonder if they’ll find he lost a bunch of $ gambling or had relationship problems. It can take a while to find things out. Maybe he just objectifies humans so much and wanted to see what he could get away with as some weird ego-boost? (Not realizing the gun fire would trigger the smoke alarm in his room.)

  10. It’s sad how people can get lost in their own thoughts. Thank you for sharing your ways of dealing with depression! Life is so stressful for all of us. I’m 21 years old and I don’t know many people who are my age and not depressed, which makes me sad. If we don’t start hunting happiness we will just get lost.

    I recently was so depressed, I’m thankfully doing better now. Making new friends, learning new things helped me get better. I basically learned how to find happiness in small things. Anxiety is another thing. It’s hard to explain it to the people who don’t know how it feels and how small tasks can be so exhausting. Because there is a voice inside your head who constantly talks and it’s really hard to not to listen to that voice.

    Also art helps a lot. Hearing and seeing things from artists who are dealing with anxiety and depression, makes us feel like we are not the only ones who are struggling

  11. After Chester passed away, his wife put a video of him up a few hours after he committed suicide. He was full of life laughing and smiling with his son as they tried different flavors jelly bean. She captioned it as “I’m showing this so that you know that depression doesn’t have a face or a mood.” That video was so special because Chester did not look depress. It is an inner battle. Since March, I was in a bad position with myself. I took work off and started working one day a week (because work was a part of the depression). I used the extra time and put it more towards school and six months later I began to feel better. In the six months being alive was not something I looked forward to but looking back on those times now, I thank the universe for my existence now.

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