Oh Captain, My Captain

Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of Robin Williams’ death.

I remember the date because I wrote something about it on Facebook. (I’m not great any more at remembering dates, and I’m not sure this one would have stuck that specifically regardless.)

I’m not much of a movies or TV person, but he was phenomenal. Dead Poets Society remains my favorite movie (though I haven’t seen it in a while…).

Below were my thoughts that day, slightly edited because a couple of spots needed it.


Depression and sadness aren’t the same thing. We often say we’re depressed when we’re just really sad, and that muddles the issue.

“I’m here if you need me” doesn’t help.
“Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help” doesn’t help.

Setting aside your own discomfort, using your knowledge that you can’t “fix” it but can still be supportive, showing up and being a friend—those are things that might help. (It occurs to me that this is true in a cancer diagnosis as well, but that is a tangent I’m not going to take right now.)

The answers might be obvious to you. The path might seem clear to you. (If depression is not something you’ve experienced, their thought process might be maddening.) To the person mired in depression, the answers and the path are not clear or obvious—or perhaps they are and they’re just not the same vision—and you can’t change that, either.

What can you do? You can stick around until they figure it out. It’s like addictions in that way—only the person living it can fix it, but the people around them can help or hurt. It might not be obvious that you’re being helpful. Do it anyway.

O Captain, My Captain. My heart aches for the pain you’ve endured. I hope you’ve found the peace you sought.

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