indigenist

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Robin Williams, Henry Rollins, Men and Depression

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Henry Rollins has been talking about his depression for 20 years.

By now you’ve probably heard that Robin Williams died by suicide. It’s been reported that he was “deeply” depressed. There has been an outpouring of grief, and rightfully so. But that’s been the narrative. His death. Also his depression, but mainly his death.

By now you’ve also probably heard about Henry Rollins and his jackass response called ‘Fuck Suicide’, in his weekly column for the  LA WEEKLY.  ‘Fuck Suicide‘ is pretty much Rollins being a reactive jackass. He later posted on his site acknowledging his jackass behaviour.

Rollins writes “That I hurt anyone by what I said, and I did hurt many, disgusts me. It was not at all my intent but it most certainly was the result.”

His apology is short and I believe a lesson in Apologies 101. A lot of people should take notes.

But he also touches on depression, his depression. Now you can be forgiven for missing this point because you’ve too busy being angry at him. Or maybe even, WTF, the world has gone PC crazy.

So I’d like to remind you. Henry Rollins talks about his experience with depression. A man. Talking about depression. And no one seems to be listening.

“I have had a life of depression. Some days are excruciating. Knowing what I know and having been through what I have, I should have known better but I obviously did not. I get so mad when I hear that someone has died this way. Not mad at them, mad at whatever got them there and that no one magically appeared to somehow save them”.

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Doesn’t really fit the “man box”. I personally think he’s the one that lit the wick so all other men can do the same. (And I reckon we have)

But the thing is, no ones being paying attention. Why ? Well I reckon it’s because people have become so ingrained into thinking and conditioned believing that “Men don’t talk.” That people don’t know how to listen anymore. Or they just choose not to. Pick one.

Anyways here’s a few stats and on men and depression, suicide and help seeking from a couple of Australian sites, but they’d be pretty universal I’m sure (I’m Australian).

Depression: “Figures suggest at some point in their lives one in five men experience anxiety and one in eight will have depression”.

Suicide: “Men are three times more likely to kill themselves than women and suicide is the leading cause of death in men aged between 15 and 44. In 2011, almost double the number of young men died by suicide compared to fatal car accidents”.

Help seeking: “But men are less likely to get the help they need, with other ABS data showing only 27 per cent of men seek professional help, compared to 40 per cent of women. In many cases men turn to drugs or alcohol instead of getting assistance, this is especially so with men under 25”.

And here is more on help seeking: “Men are still hesitant and have difficulty talking about depression and anxiety at a personal levelin theory or reality”.

The stats on depression and suicide and men speak for themselves, it’s the reportage of men help seeking that I have issues with.

See I believe that men do talk about their mental health and that people don’t know how to listen to men talk.

It was recently passed on too me the teachings of an Aboriginal Elder of the Girramay peoples; “you have to listen to what a person does – not what they say”. That’s pretty sound advice, and that’s how I think you should all have a crack at listening to men. I recently gave some tips on how to do just that. #WatchListenAsk – its at least a starting point. A better one.

By writing this piece what I’m really trying to do is advocate for change. Same conversation about men and help seeking but change the way we frame it.

See, because what I feel is the real link between Robin Williams and Henry Rollins is depression.

“I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind” Rollins wrote that for Details Magazine in 1994. The piece was called “The Iron”.

Details

20 years later, he is still writing about his depression.

“I have had a life of depression. Some days are excruciating. Knowing what I know and having been through what I have, I should have known better but I obviously did not.”

And again in his follow up column ‘More Thoughts on Suicide

“Like a lot of people, I have battled depression all my life. It’s nothing special, in that it’s too common to be considered unique. This state has made me have to do things in a certain way to remain operational.”

If you still believe that men are hesitant and have difficulty talking about depression then try this one for size.

“There have been some truly awful stretches, as I am sure there have been for anyone who deals with depression, that have at times rendered me almost paralytic. Hours pass and I slow-cook on a cold spit.”

Read that bit again.

“There have been some truly awful stretches, as I am sure there have been for anyone who deals with depression, that have at times rendered me almost paralytic. Hours pass and I slow-cook on a cold spit.”

You can’t get much more graphic impression of the pain of depression.

In any of the pieces about Henry Rollins and Robin Williams did you pick up on any that ? Did anyone point to it and say “See men, many many men, even men like Henry Rollins, get depression and talk about it?”

Al Pacino recently spoke about his own depression recently at the Venice Film Festival. “It can last and it’s terrifying…I know that, I’ve had bouts with stuff that comes close to that, but not with that intensity. I feel spared, I feel lucky.”

Al Pacino

So are you paying attention yet?

Fellas if you are reading this, I’m paying attention.

I’m also trying to change the perception that men don’t don’t talk. And stop people from telling us constantly that we don’t.

See I also have had depression and I am sure I’ll have it again. And like any illness I’ve had before, be it a cold or tonsillitis. I’ve kick it to the curb too. I’ve had a cold more times than I can count. Thankfully, with depression, not so much.

The thing is I got well again. You can too. Again and again and again.

There’s a saying that goes, “If you tell someone something long enough, they start to believe it”.

So this conversation that men don’t talk about their mental health has got to stop; it’s dangerous. Let’s talk about how to listen better.

Men are dying.

Killing themselves. Well fuck that.

We have to become reconditioned into thinking that we do talk. And we have to recondition others into thinking the same. But we are going to have to make that first step.

Because, men and the rest of you out there, we are talking, people just haven’t been listening right.

And Henry, that “slow-cook on a cold spit ” feeling, yeah, I hear you. Oh, how I hear you.

Look after yourself mate. Self-care is important. But I don’t think I need to tell you that. You’ve got The Iron, Dameyon.

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**In Australia only – If you need help now: Call Lifeline’s 24hr crisis telephone line on 13 11 14; Access online one-on-one Crisis Support Chat; Call 000 if life is in immediate danger.

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©Indigenist

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2 thoughts on “Robin Williams, Henry Rollins, Men and Depression

  1. Pingback: (Video) The only prelude needed for Cage-Fighting Poet @CameronConaway memoir “Caged” + Book Review | the indigenist

  2. Pingback: The Voice of Men is only audible if you know what you’re looking out for. | the indigenist

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