Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams

Hmm .... to try and put decent words together to broach this subject ... to be meaningful.  Forgive me if I miss the mark.

Depression can be a fatal disease.  Suicide is pretty much always due to depression.  I say "pretty much" only because I'm not aware of any other reasons someone might kill themselves, but I imagine there might be.  Most of the time, though, it's depression.  Even accidental over-doses are usually caused by substance abuse that, in turn, is caused by depression.

As a group, as a culture, We don't discuss suicide and depression until someone we all love - someone who has provided us with so much joy and laughter - kills themselves and brings it to the fore.  Tonight is one of those times to talk about it.

Robin Williams was an incredible entertainer.  I doubt there are any of us who didn't enjoy at least one of his performances.  I enjoyed many.  He amazed me with his energy, his humour, and the speed of his brain.


But whenever I saw him in an interview, I wondered.  I wondered if a man with a brain so fast could be happy in there all of the time - to be honest, I knew he couldn't be.  It was painfully obvious that he was bipolar and that his manic side came out most often in interviews.

My brain works too much - is always going quickly - I'm always thinking of something.  And on occasion I get a taste of the bipolar brain.  I have very "up" days when I talk too fast, am too "on," and am likely annoying or disturbing to some.  But only a taste.  It doesn't happen too often, and it is not severe.  And the "up" days are fun.  But after my "up" days, I know there is a "down" day coming.  You don't get the good day without paying the piper.  So I knew about Robin Williams.  I knew if anyone was that up so much they'd have to be down an equal amount of the time.  I wondered what it was like to be in that body with that brain.  I always thought it could be hellish.  And I could often see the pain in his eyes (just do a Google Image search of Robin Williams and look at his eyes - when he wasn't being goofy, you could always see the pain - when he was being goofy, you could see the joy).

I knew a little about his substance abuse, alcoholism.  I had heard bits here and there.  I hadn't paid a huge amount of attention, choosing to focus on the good that I saw in his life - after all, I didn't know him.  But when I heard today that he had killed himself, it seemed to make some sort of sad sense.  It did not surprise me.  Well, one part of it did surprise me.  I was surprised that he had made it this far in life (he was 63) and it was bad enough for him to feel desperate enough to kill himself.

I've gone through my share of feeling better and then feeling worse, though, that even the age thing shouldn't surprise me.

I feel so badly for him.  I assume that he was treated for the problem, although I don't know for sure.  I feel so badly for his wife and his children.  And I feel sorry for the rest of us who will not get to experience a new, funny performance of his.

Just more proof, though, that depression can be all-consuming.  Even if you are famous, have all the money you'll ever need, have a loving family, have fans galore - all of that can be wiped out by the darkness of depression.

I have no answers.  Stories like this try to chip away at my hope.  But I can't allow them to.  Because there IS always hope.

I just wish he could have seen that this morning.

1 comment:

  1. I have to agree with you, Sandi. In his later years, it really struck me that he was being pursued relentlessly by some sort of demon, and given that I'd heard in my teens that John Cleese also battled depression, I wondered if it that was also Williams' demon.

    I do have to say that I think collectively, we westerners are feeling a void. Someone on Twitter likened this sad set of circumstances to when Princess Diana died. While I'm not the biggest Diana fan, I do have to say that the feeling of loss is pretty similar.

    I do hope some good can come out of this, though. Perhaps this is the push that depression really needs to get it out of the darkness and into the public consciousness and regarded as the illness that it is and the terrible, terrible effects it can have if not dealt with effectively.

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