Aug 1, 2022
With Wil Wheaton, Actor, Author, & Blogger
We hear a lot about depression these days. We may even have experienced it ourselves or have a loved one who suffers from it. For those who have never experienced chronic depression, it’s hard to understand how it feels. Perhaps you’re even thinking, “Why can’t they just pull themselves out of it?” One of the most confusing aspects of depression is that it can create a distorted reality and a person may genuinely believe that their feelings are grounded in reality. It’s important to understand that, although depression is characterized as a mental illness, there might be a physical imbalance in their brain chemistry. Until that imbalance is corrected, the symptoms of depression will continue even if the person tries to hide them.
Mental illness can happen to anyone. For example, think of a successful individual that seems to have it all: a thriving career, wealth, and a loving family. You might think, “How can this person possibly be depressed?” Since we never know what goes on behind closed doors, a person’s life may be very different from the image they present in public. We may never know the struggles someone faces. It’s important to remember that even when someone seems to have it all, it doesn’t make them immune to pain, suffering, or depression.
My guest today is actor, author, and blogger, Wil Wheaton. You may know him from the 1980s movie Stand by Me. You may know him best as Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation, or from his recurring role on the most successful sitcom of all time, The Big Bang Theory. But Wil is also a very successful writer and when he launched his blog WilWheaton.Net, he became one of the first popular blogs with more than three million followers. Discovering his genuine passion for writing, Wil has written several books detailing his life and struggles with mental illness, including his most recent memoir, Still Just a Geek. So what has Wil learned about himself since 2004? How has his life changed and how was it impacted by mental illness? Listen to find out!
What You’ll Hear on This Episode:
Today’s Takeaway: Mental illness and depression don't discriminate. It can affect anyone without regard for education, financial status, race, or religion. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of shame and stigma around mental illness. People struggling with mental illness are often perceived as weak, broken, or damaged. But if we wouldn’t describe someone with diabetes as weak or damaged, then mental illness shouldn’t be treated any differently. It's also important to realize that there are different kinds of depression. A person may experience depression linked to a particular event such as a death, divorce, or job loss, etc. Wil says that asking someone for help can be very hard, especially when you’re afraid that whoever you confide in will tell you just to suck it up and deal with it. But when someone gets the support they need it can make a huge difference. It’s up to all of us to be empathetic, supportive, and listen; instead of telling someone they are weak. We can all learn to be more compassionate and supportive. When an individual has a mental illness that tricks their brain into thinking they are a bad person who doesn’t deserve to be happy or is a burden to their loved ones, that person certainly doesn’t need anyone making them feel worse. Don’t be afraid to ask how someone is doing and how you can help. Remember that every day is a gift and we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to seek help when we need it. There is no shame in admitting that we (or a loved one) suffer from depression. Whether it’s short-term situational depression or chronic depression, asking for help is a very brave first step. Following through to get that help is a sign of strength and courage. Whether it’s through therapy and/or medication, whatever steps you take could change your life in ways you’d never have imagined. I’m Florine Mark and that’s “Today’s Takeaway.”
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