Depression affects different people in different ways. But whether it’s an occasional bout of melancholy or long-term, debilitating clinical depression, two factors aggravate the pain: first, the pervasive loneliness of feeling like no one can understand what you’re going through, and second, wondering if the storm will truly pass.
This is why an encouraging word from a loved one can be helpful during these low spells. Or in this case, from Samwise Gamgee.
“Lord of the Rings” actor Sean Astin was recently signing autographs at the Fanboy Expo in Knoxville when a fan (easttnelvira on TikTok) opened up about how one of his character’s signature lines helped her through “severe depression.”
Astin knew exactly what line she was referring to, and without missing a beat she said, “Even the darkness will pass and a new day will come.”
But he didn’t stop there. Astin then playfully validates the woman’s experience (“You know what’s the best part about severe depression? Nothing! It explodes!”) before reminding her that, just as the quote promises, “It gets better.”
He even took her hand, looked her straight in the eyes, and said, “You know what your problem is? Nothing. Absolute nothing. I’m sorry it’s hard sometimes… Be strong. I love you.”
Can you believe it? My daughters came to get signed but opened a new primary memory instead.
@easttnelvira I met one of my childhood heroes Sean Astin today and he gave me some words of wisdom and encouragement about my battles with depression that I needed to hear. I am so happy to take this video to remember this moment, cherish it, and reflect on any time I feel down. I hope anyone else struggling with depression will take his words and kindness seriously. 🖤 #seanastin #samwisegamgee #lordoftheringstiktok #lotr #lotrtok #lordoftherings #fanboyexpoknoxville #fyp #trending ♬ original sound – 𝖊𝖆𝖘𝖙𝖙𝖓𝖊𝖑𝖛𝖎𝖗𝖆
In the caption of the clip, the woman wrote, “I am so happy to capture this video to remember this moment, cherish it, and reflect on any time I feel down. I hope anyone else struggling with depression takes his words and kindness seriously.”
Even her boyfriend, who filmed it all, felt some lingering joy. “I can confidently say she was so ecstatic to the point of happy tears. It meant the world to her and seeing the person she loved so happy was a moment I will remember forever,” he wrote.
As the touching interaction started making the rounds on TikTok and Reddit, viewers couldn’t help but praise Astin for showing genuine empathy.
“He said it with conviction someone meant it 100%,” one wrote.
Another added, “All of this checking with a great deal of empathy and encouragement. This is a very thoughtful and helpful way to respond.”
Some were quick to point out that Astin’s mother, sitcom actress Patty Duke, had her own struggles with bipolar disorder, which led her to become a mental health advocate. Astin followed in his mother’s footsteps, regularly advocating the importance of asking for help and forgiving oneself
And then, of course, some people just wanted to bask in how Astin is one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. As one person commented, “Shawn, you are one of the good guys of my generation. We are lucky to have grown up with you and to see how great you have become.”
“This is the guy who saw every fan, did every photo, shook every hand. And he’s still here, loving and caring for people,” another lamented.
Whether you’re carrying a cursed ring back to Mordor whence it came, or carrying a heavy emotional baggage, struggles are easier to deal with with support on your side. It can be difficult to know exactly what to say to someone experiencing severe depression in a way that truly helps them feel supported, but take a page out of Astin’s book and start with empathy.
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