For Those That Suffer From Mental Illness

A couple of days ago, I published a post titled “Oh Captain, My Captain” to, pay tribute to Robin Williams only a few hours after learning about his apparent suicide.

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I had known for years that Robin Williams suffered from severe depression and anxiety but I didn’t want the post to focus on those subjects. The post was written to pay tribute to a man who was not only a famous comedian, but also a very talented runner, and a great human being with a loving heart. The outpouring of grief we have seen on the news and on social media show us just how many lives Mr. Williams made better through his God given ability to make people laugh. My post reflected on how of some of his performances helped me in my own life. Hook, helped me escape to my own ‘Neverland’ when I was 11 years old and living through my mother’s second marriage. Mrs. Doubtfire’s final monologue gave the best answer you could possibly give to a young child or teenager that is suffering through their parents divorce and asking themselves if they have lost their family. The comments that the readers of my post shared were 99.9% positive. They shared what Robin Williams movies were their favorite, YouTube clips of their favorite Robin Williams jokes, and some shared specifics on how Mr. Williams comedy had personally pulled them through a dark time in their life. However, one reader, felt the need to share the comment below.

“Nobody with a brain will be sorry for this death… what a coward… life gave him so much and he killed him self… coward! ….oh coward, my coward, I should say.”

My blood started to boil when I read this comment. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but this man’s opinion is hopelessly based on an unsound understanding of mental illnesses like severe depression and anxiety. The man that made this comment is obviously lucky enough to have never suffered from a bout of serious depression or anxiety; if he had, he would know that, even though life had given Robin Williams so much, he was not a coward for killing himself. Katie Hurley, a psychotherapist from Los Angeles has said, “suicide is a decision made out of desperation, hopelessness, isolation and loneliness. The black hole that is clinical depression is all-consuming. Feeling like a burden to loved ones, feeling like there is no way out, feeling trapped and feeling isolated are all common among people who suffer from depression. Until you’ve stared down that level of depression; until you’ve lost your soul to a sea of emptiness and darkness, you don’t get to make those judgments.”

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Oh Captain, My Captain

I had the intent of writing a completely different post this evening, but the news of Robin Williams death and apparent suicide caused me to put that post on hold to pay tribute to the man whose performances have made the world laugh and, in some cases, cry since before I was born.

To have someone that was beloved by so many leave the world under such tragic circumstances makes the loss even harder to process. How many more laughs would Robin Williams have brought into our lives if he had not decided to take his own? It has been known for a long time that Robin Williams suffered from severe depression and was a recovering drug addict that had recently been treated for a relapse after 20 years of sobriety. His death is reminder that depression and addiction affect people from all walks of life.

You may be asking yourself why I am paying tribute to a television and movie star in a running blog. The answer is simple. Robin Williams wasn’t just a famous comedian and movie star, he was also a runner. He ran track and cross-country for Redwood High School in Larkspur, California. He was one of his teams stand-out stars, running the 800 meter distance in 1:58.8.

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What If Everybody Ran?

Mizuno - What If Everybody Ran Banner

With the simple question above Mizuno, the Japanese sporting goods company, kicked-off its new ad campaign during the broadcast of the 2014 Boston Marathon. The two million dollar campaign contains the brands first television commercial, print advertisements, video clips and digital ads geared specifically toward the American distance running market.

The television ad begins by stating, “Everyone has their own thoughts on what running can do. Here’s ours.” the voiceover continues: “We believe running can transform you. It can transform your mood, your thoughts, your psyche. It can transform your pants size, the numbers on the scale and the feeling you get when you hear the words ‘bathing suit.’” the voiceover then concludes by describing how running can “transform how you treat others and how others treat you, and if running is powerful enough to transform anyone, we believe running is powerful enough to transform everyone. Join us.”  I have embedded the video below for easy viewing.

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