Like everyone else I was shocked at hearing that Robin Williams was just ...gone, especially the way he left. I'd didn't realize he had so many issues, though I wasn't very surprised, and as it's been pointed out before many comedians create from a source of pain. It is a terrible tragedy, but also a great opportunity to discuss the nature of depression and the difference between clinical depression and just having a bad day.
I'm 45 years old, currently unemployed, have had two heart attacks and been diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney disease in the past year, and am a survivor of three suicide attempts, one with a gun and two with sleeping pills, so I have a bit of experience with depression. It is not a choice. What people have to understand is that depression, true depression, is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Your environment CAN have an impact on your mood, of course, and everyone suffers from having a bad day, but depression in not dependent on how well of your are, or how good life is...as the situation with Robin Williams proves. My last suicide attempt happened while I was employed, living with a long term partner, and had just rediscovered the world of video games and comics...all the things that on paper would suggest a "happy life". People who have terrible childhoods can go onto living happy, wonderful lives, while the rich and famous can be miserable and full of anguish. As a survivor of depression, I can attest to the the fact that it IS an ongoing struggle, and that it's very important to get help. If the cause is chemical, it won't just go away. Medication can help, as well as therapy, both of which I am now finally able to take advantage of, thanks to the new insurance policies (hopefully WhySoSerious can do some research and discover that they have more options than they realize).
One of the most important things for people to remember is that depression actually changes the way you see the world, colors your perception, and can physically exhaust you. I've had plenty of days where I just stayed in bed, shunning the sunlight and preferred the escape of my dreams to the reality of my waking life. It's draining, you lose track of time, and you don't see an end, just a lingering existence. Those who have friends or loved ones in their lives who ARE depressed really need to grasp this concept before they can begin to help, otherwise it becomes too easy to suggest the sufferers just "suck it up, and deal with it". In my case, it VERY much helped to get into therapy, unburdening to an impartial party while also getting onto a mild antidepressant to help actually change my brain chemistry. Simple initial aids include meditation, walking, sticking to a constant sleep schedule, and taking St. John's Wort, also known as Hypericum, an herbal supplement that helps regulate brain chemistry. It helped me very much after my second suicide attempt. Finally, both sufferers and supporters need to remember than changed take time, and most medications need AT LEAST two weeks before the user can expect to see results. Be patient.
On a lighter note, in response to Jen Morton's letter about trying to get into a game while having problems finding people to group with, I agree with what you both said about remembering that it's a game, it's supposed to be fun, and you should play it on your terms, solo or with others. Play how you want to, when you want to. Take one step at a time, risk one connection at a time. Sometimes people accept, sometimes they don't...just like life. The more you do it, the less pressure you feel each time, and the easier it becomes to fail AND succeed. Again, be patient with yourself.