In the aftermath of Robin Williams’ tragic death, there is fresh conversation on the importance of seeing depression as a medical issue and not a stigma that necessitates silent suffering.

I’ll be transparent here: I have a depression diagnosis, and have dealt with this unwelcome friend since my teens. I’m grateful for my therapist and psychiatrist who helped me garner an accurate diagnosis and find the proper treatment options, so that I can function and embrace life to its fullest.

Depression can be effectively treated, I have learned, and does not have to hinder your quality of life. It is not the singular cause of your problems, and treating it does not make your problems go away; rather, depression clouds how you view life’s dynamics and engenders hopelessness and irrational behavior. When you persevere in treatment, it becomes very possible to face life’s ups and downs and not be overwhelmed by them. It’s a journey, and a scary journey at times; but I now live with excitement about today’s and tomorrow’s possibilities.

Robin Williams’ work inspired my passion for spontaneous humor and striving to foster interesting connections between seemingly disparate material. I hate that so many beautiful, creative people like him–celebrities or not–have suffered from depression or its associated diagnoses, and have made choices that have caused them and others so much pain.

I’ve experienced my share of painful consequences as well; and Robin’s alleged decision to die is a reminder of our shared human frailty. None of us knows what deep, black hole we might face at any given moment. None of us, ultimately, is in any position to judge anyone else.

Our human mandate, rather, is to seek to understand and to help, knowing that the more we give the universe, the more we receive.