When someone like Robin Williams takes his own life, it's a stunning reminder of how powerful emotional anguish can be. It's a reminder that profound emotional pain can occur in the talented, the successful, the admired, the well-loved. And it's a reminder of how difficult it can be to reach someone struggling with depression -- especially someone who thinks you don't want to hear about it.
I know that substance abuse problems vary in terms of severity, fright and heartbreak, and yet I am optimistic! In research and clinical work alike, I've seen the evidence over the past 40 years that families and friends make a difference in helping someone who struggles with drinking, drugs or other compulsive behaviors. Often, it is the critical difference.
Looking for and finding Silver Linings was essential to my well-being during treatment. They buoyed me and kept my spirits hopeful from the time of my diagnosis throughout my double mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and recovery. Silver Linings gave me the balance and perspective to get me through the darkest of days.
For the people out there who do not understand addiction from a clinical standpoint and for those who have never been addicted to anything and who do not suffer either mildly or severely from a mental disorder, please take a step back and reflect. Relapse cannot be broken down so simply as a choice.
Physicians and their patients don't have failsafe access to the medical information they need when they need it. And researchers, ready and waiting to solve the medical challenges of today, simply cannot turn the trove of data the government is sitting on into the healthcare advancements of tomorrow.