Robin Williams, 1951-2014 (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
Like most of us, I was stunned to hear the news of beloved actor, Robin Williams untimely passing. It was a reminder to me that you never know what someone else is going through. From the outside, all looks well. However, depression is an emotion that starts on the inside and works its way out. No matter who you are, it can happen to you.
In life, I always try to take something away from such tragic situations. As I don’t know Robin Williams personally, the one thing that I can take away from his death and apply to my own life is the importance of NOT living in silence. Depression’s breeding grown is silence and although I have never suffered severe depression, I know what living in silence can do to your spirit.
As quoted by Robin Williams, “You look at the world and see how scary it can be sometimes and still try to deal with the fear.” That is how I use to see the world as a student and adult living with Dyslexia. The fear and anxiety can be so great, but if not dealt with could lead to depression. I’ve find that the best way to deal with those emotions are to acknowledge that they are there, determine not to be silent and to seek help fast.
As a special education teacher and a person living with Dyslexia, it’s a part of my mission in life to be so vocal about the emotional impact of Dyslexia that every teacher and parent join me in not allowing their student(s) to suffer in silence from the effects of Dyslexia. It affect so many, 1 in 5 students, yet the emotional side of learning disabilities are not talked about at school or home in many cases. If we are going to educate the whole child, we can’t be content in helping him to just learn how to read, do math and write, we also have to teach him how to deal with the feeling of shame that is often associated with being labeled. We have to teach him how to manage, if not get rid of the fear and anxiety that so often come with having Dyslexia. Moreover, as parents and teachers, we must realize that the extreme frustration that often follows as a result of not measuring up to their peers and parents and teachers expectation, makes students with learning disabilities feel chronically inadequate.
Dyslexia isn’t an emotional disorder, but the frustrating nature of it can lead to feelings of anxiety, anger, low-self-esteem and depression. According to Dyslexia Help:
Depression is a frequent complication in dyslexia. Although most dyslexics are not depressed, children with this kind of learning disability are at higher risk for intense feelings of sorrow and pain. Perhaps because of their low self-esteem, dyslexics are afraid to turn their anger toward their environment and instead turn it toward themselves.
However, depressed children and adolescents often have different symptoms than do depressed adults. The depressed child is unlikely to be lethargic or to talk about feeling sad. Instead he or she may become more active or misbehave to cover up the painful feelings. In the case of masked depression, the child may not seem obviously unhappy. However, both children and adults who are depressed tend to have three similar characteristics: