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T. Biggens Riley

The Sad Clown


A man goes to see a doctor. Doctor asks what seems to be the trouble. The man says, "Doctor, I'm depressed. Simply, I can't sleep sometimes, I can't eat, I feel down and irritable most days. I just can't feel 'happy."

The Doctor says, "I've got the perfect fix for you. In town tonight is the great clown Pagliacci. He's hysterically funny and will make you laugh til you cry. You will experience a joy unprecedented."

The man bursts into tears.

The doctor, confused asks why. "Doctor! I am Pagliacci."

My Soapbox

As we look back on the life of Robin Williams, let us not forget that even the funny, entertaining, even outgoing people in our lives may hurt on the inside. On the inside, they are hurting. It's tough to fathom sometimes. 

I always talk about my friend Web Guy Tom. Shortly after the news came out about Robin Williams, he came to my office to chat with me, ask my reaction. Now those who work with Tom see him as witty (as well as handsome and intelligent.) But he confided in me that he struggled (and sometimes still struggles) with depression. He told me about the people who passed it off as "just a little sadness," or came up with their hairbrained ideas for ways to take care of his depression. He said it wasn't that simple.

Tom told me that when he was depressed, he felt alone. That he couldn't talk to his family, friends or anyone else for that matter about what he was struggling with. Eventually Tom got the help he needed. He laughs about it now, but he told me he was so ashamed of seeking treatment that he actually told his family he had a meeting with his job at 7 in the morning. 

Tom felt shame about his illness. Society teaches us that men aren't supposed to feel sad. Tom's story isn't that uncommon. 

In a time when we are more connected that ever, I see that we're still isolated from everyone. 

Did you know that in 2012, suicide overtook car accidents as America’s leading cause of injury-related deaths. Americans are now more likely to die on purpose than by accident. Where does it end?

When we hurt, we need to talk about it. Express it. Look to others for help. Jamie Tworkowski, founder of Florida-based non-profit To Write Love on Her Arms said in an interview with Relevant Magazine "There’s no stigma in talking about a broken arm. But a broken mind or perhaps a broken heart—a lot of people feel like they are not allowed to go there or be honest about it." 

How often do you ask "how's it going?" to someone, and hear the same response.


Not everything is "fine." Maybe we need to dig deeper, and read body language of others. Maybe we need to not be afraid to say that not everything is fine when we hurt. 

Maybe instead of worrying about how we look to others, we look toward others, or look out for others. 


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