Wil Wheaton's frank, brave speech about his depression and anxiety

I always try to empty it outside and position myself upwind. Might be a stop-gap until you get a bagged version.

1 Like

My point, which is a subtle one that was poorly spelled out is that all this stuff is spectrum. If someone can achieve success, then per se they’re at the lesser end of the spectrum. I do not mean they don’t suffer but rather that their suffering and the disabilities (so to speak) that cause them are not crippling. And as such, as one crippled by the shit, I’m somewhat resentful of the proclamations of victimhood. More importantly, I find the self-outing of absolutely no benefit to me, nor to anyone truly, deeply suffering.

(And DFW’s a poor example. Amongst his problems, you have to factor in his abuse of Mary Karr.)

Attacking people who suffer from depression because you don’t think they have it as bad as you do stigmatizes the condition and disincentivizes people from seeking treatment when they may legitimately need it just because they must not have it “that bad” if they’re not pinned to their bed by the weight of it every morning.

Depression manifests differently for different people. You can be suicidally depressed without being incapable of getting up in the morning. Don’t be a dick.


That was completely not what I was doing or intended. If anything the reverse. The more functional on the spectrum have nothing for those of us on the bad end of the spectrum. That’s all.

But thanks for the ad hominem attack. Because they really helps communicating.

If we’re going to talk about ad hominems, I’m not the one who called someone a bullshit-spouting narcissist for being honest about their depression. I’m not the one who dismissively referred to anything less than a permanently crippling degree of depression as “getting sad”. You have sought to invalidate the lived experiences of people who are anywhere above you on this spectrum by claiming that their diagnoses are fabrications, and that they have no idea what they’re talking about, because you’re the only real sufferer here. You cannot possibly know what someone else is going through inside their own head.

Their confessions may have nothing for you. Fine. But your spiteful attacks on them do far more damage. Depression is a spectrum, and assailing anyone who seems to be better off than you as faking it for attention is a great way to keep people from getting help. It’s hard enough to suffer from depression when the rest of society thinks the cure is as simple as watching a funny movie and going for a walk around the block. It’s even harder when people who are deep on the spectrum perpetuate the myth that anything less than being utterly non-functional is something that’s inconsequential and easily shrugged off.


Had an agitated episode where I had lots of energy and reduced need for sleep. No insomnia, just early waking and BOOM! Ready to go. Very social, very animated, very everything and oh yeah I couldn’t stop thinking of how to kill myself and started narrowing down exactly how I was going to do that but goddamn I had no problems fulfilling my social life and getting stuff done around the house.


I didn’t see anyone saying anyone has to take meds. Just that if you have severe depression to see a clinician.

However, denigrating medication as “lifetime chemical dependency” when it has kept millions alive (including me) isn’t particularly helpful.


Hang in there. I like “do what you can” as a mantra.


It’s even harder when one of your symptoms is Imposter Syndrome (oh, I can still get up and go to work, I must be being overdramatic, because I can still function, basically, so I should stop blaming my laziness on depression, etc, etc), so thank you for this. One of the most insidious ways Depression lies is by convincing you that you don’t have Depression, you’re just lazy and refuse to take responsibility. Other people backing that up by playing Depression Olympics doesn’t help.

I wish medication or exercise would work, but it’s a persistent bastard. But knowing other people understand does help. So, again, thanks for standing up.


I disagree. Sure, Wheaton and Lev Grossman and the other writers and artists/celebrities who have depression or other mental illnesses may not be crippled by it, (though I do not think anyone who isn’t very close to them is in a position to judge that), are able to be successful despite their illness. But they still have it. They still struggle. And like every artist, actor, or professional sports hero who comes out as gay, they normalize it. They get people to talk about mental illness, get it out of the shadows, and help remove some of the shame and stigma associated with mental illness. Just like the way all our brave LGBT artists and celebrities helped our entire county realize being LGBT wasn’t anything to be ashamed of, wasn’t icky or wrong, that awesome people are gay or trans. That they are just people, like everyone else. It’s not quite the same, because mental illnesses are diseases and being LGBT is most certainly not, but the shame and stigma issues are similar. The hiding and lack of understanding by society and the people close to us are similar.

We, as a society, are not going to get the money and determination needed to properly research mental illness the way cancer and diabetes are researched unless people start taking it seriously, realize that they are diseases and not some moral/mental weakness, and that all kinds of people in all kinds of places have them.

And artists like Wheaton help people understand. My husband said that reading the Magicians series by Lev Grossman really helped him understand what it was like for me, as someone with depression. Grossman explained things, helped him understand how it feels for me everyday, in a way I, not being a fantastic writer, hadn’t been able to. And that, right there, is fucking priceless. Having depression and the skill and talent to help people who don’t understand what it feels like. If the artists don’t “out themselves” as having mental illness, the people reading or watching won’t understand that the way they depict mental illness is authentic. That they are pulling from personal experience. That yes, this is what someone who has a mental illness can really feel like.

So I admire Wheaton and Lev Grossman and all the others like them. They are brave to reveal they have a disease that most people don’t take seriously and will judge them for having. They are making a difference in how society perceives mental illness and helping individuals like my husband, who desperately wants to understand so he can support me.
I’m sorry you have it so bad, that you’ve been crippled by depression. It’s awful.

That made me cry. Actually physically cry. Because they do have something for those of us on bad end of the spectrum. Or at least me and some other people I know personally. They help me and people I know who do have it bad feel a little less alone. A little less broken. They help the people who love us understand. They help us combat the voices that tell us we are worthless and not worth the air we breath. I’m sad and sorry they don’t have anything for you. But they do for others.


I know that feeling. My healthcare providers have explained to my husband that he needs to watch me closest when I’m depressed but energetic. Because that’s when someone who is suicidal has the wherewithal to kill themselves. Deep in the darkness, when one can hardly make oneself move and even breathing is a trial, that is less dangerous because the energy to do anything just isn’t there. Its the slightly or totally manic bits that are the most dangerous.


Isn’t that a big part of why depressed people sometimes try or commit suicide after starting a new medication? The meds give you the energy to end everything, before they fix your emotional balance so you don’t want to end everything.

1 Like

That’s one reasonable theory of why that happens. There’s also how the medication makes the aliens beam voices into your head telling you to jump in front of the subway.

Suppose I have a well paying job that my boss and co-workers think I’m good at. Suppose I have a spouse and children that love me and that I’m told I’m a good spouse/parent to. Suppose I also had a knife.

How deeply would I have to cut into my arm before it would pass your my-suffering-isn’t-bullshit test?


Can’t describe how much you missed and/or mangled my point.

I am sorry, exactly what are your credentials that allow you to diagnose (or deny the diagnosis of) a DSM condition in an individual you have never met? Given that Will Wheaton’s DX came from a qualified professional, I doubt it’s “bullshit”. And just because it has no value to you doesn’t mean it doesn’t help others, even ones who might be near the dead end of the scale.

Have you seen him, spoken with him on a bad day? We see his good days or his mostly good days, and he’s a professional actor who can fake the rest, but what appears on the outside isn’t reflective of what’s going on inside. I am sure most people around me have no idea what kinds of thoughts I have on a daily, hourly and sometimes even by the minute basis, and I am not a professional actor. Just like throwing the contents of your bedroom floor into the closet and bracing the door shut doesn’t make the mess go away, being able to slap on a convincing smile or finding the occasional tiny scrap of joy doesn’t mean everything is fine and that you haven’t got any problems.

TBH it’s people with your quoted sentiments who don’t help people like me.


If I can make an awkward analogy to a purely physical problem: I’m like this when I’ve had to go off my thyroid medication for medical procedures. I lost my entire thyroid gland to cancer. When I’m off the meds I’m SUPER PRODUCTIVE and get a ton of shit done. The reason for that is that I cannot concentrate on anything for more than 5 minutes. I can’t sit still. I can’t relax. So I get tons of small stuff done in tiny bursts and it looks like I’m functioning GREAT but I’m actually slowly dying.

My body produces zero thyroid hormone. Other people aren’t producing enough of something else that affects their mental stability. And I’m sure not telling people that still have a thyroid that their Hashimoto’s isn’t really a problem because they still make some hormone.


You said that career success was proof that Wheaton was full of shit:

What was I supposed to take away from that if not that career success proved someone was full of shit when they said they suffered from depression?

You even provided a test:

Mental illness doesn’t mean pervasively and consistently fucking up your life. Sometimes it means trying to kill yourself in the stairwell one afternoon at work despite the fact that everyone thought you were fine. It can mean a lot of less extreme things too.

If you didn’t mean to say you can judge whether people are suffering based on outward appearances, then I don’t understand why you said you could judge Wheaton in that way. If you had a grander point to make other than your ability to judge someone’s suffering, I guess you are right that it was lost on me.


I don’t think it’s awkward at all. But I actually have hashimoto’s, so maybe it makes more sense to me?
Though I totally don’t get having a lot of energy when one’s thyroid is gone. I get super tired and unmotivated as well as unable to concentrate when my thyroid levels are too low. It seems like an usual reaction to have a lot of energy- but everyone’s different! Which is also true with every other illness. I bet it is just as miserable as the exhaustion and lack of motivation.
Total aside: for anyone who has a mental illness, make sure you get your hormone levels checked- it probably won’t be the cause but it can seriously contribute to the problem.


I’m sure if it went on for more than the 3-5 days I need to be off it for the scans, I would collapse. But it’s not so much “energy” as a kind of mania.


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.