Heartbroken. I am angry, sad, and lost.
I didn't personally know Robin Williams. I am not famous or in the movie industry. I am neither a comic nor a comedian. I am just a person. A regular person. An ordinary person. A person that can't yet fathom never seeing new a Robin Williams movie or hearing his comedy routines live or watching him ham it up with the latest talk show host ever again.
I loved Robin Williams. His humor, his energy, his fluidity of voice changes and characters. His references were both poignant and truthful. He had a way of making everyone feel like his best friend even if their only connection to him was watching him on the television set or viewing one of his many skillfully played characters at the movie theater. He illuminated the masses with his hyper and manic humor. He brought tears to our eyes with his heart touching roles. He shared some of his life with us. Some of the inner workings of his genius mind and he did it all while making us smile. He reminded many of us that grew up watching him, of our own beloved yet goofy family members. The crazy uncle that dances around and does funny accents and silly voices or the wacky aunt that jumps from story to story, each story being bigger and more implausible than the next. Everyone has one of those kooky relatives and Mr. Williams seemed to encompass them all but with more oomph and better fashion sense. His smile brought many of us comfort. We knew no matter how hard our day was or how sad we might be, that even the smallest of his jokes would change all of that. Even if for only a few moments, we knew that Robin Williams would make us laugh and we would feel better, and he did.
That is why so many of us were so terribly shocked that we lost him in such a profoundly devastating way. He was for many of us, a hero. Not only did he make us laugh but he was open and honest about many of his struggles. He had battled with addiction and wrestled with depression and he helped raise awareness of both of those issues every time he discussed them. He was successful even though he suffered and it made him a hero to a great many of us. He made us realize that we too could reach for our dreams even though we may have mental illness or addiction issues. For me he was more than an actor, comic, or funny man. For me and many like me, he was an inspiration.
Sometimes when others make us laugh we fail to see the pain behind their eyes. Sometimes we fail to see that laughter can hide agony and despair. I do not know why Robin Williams committed suicide but I do know how devastated his family and friends must be. I know what living with a depressed parent is like and sadly I understand suicide and the fear of it on a very real level. My mother tried to kill herself when I was ten years old. She suffers from among other things, bipolar disorder and chronic depression.
Depression isn't simply feeling sad. It isn't just being overwhelmed and lonely. Depression is a black whole that sucks up every important, valued, wonderful thing in your life and swallows it whole. It decimates and devastates. It leaves you raw and numb. It smothers your other senses so completely that it tunnels your vision until all that you can see is the pain and agony in which you have lived your life in. It is not just having a bad day. It is an exhaustion, a soul crushing exhaustion that pollutes every sense of normalcy in your world. It takes everything from you and leaves you desperate for any semblance of solace or peace. Depression isn't simply an emotion, it is an illness and like all illnesses, it can and it does kill.
I think people are surprised by his depression because he was successful and famous. Because he seemed so happy and jovial. Because he had done so many things most of us will never achieve. But that just shows how little most people know about mental illnesses such as depression. Depression doesn't discriminate. It has nothing to do with money or fame. It has nothing to do with race or social status. It has nothing to do with gender, sexual preference, or one's religious views. Depression is a mental illness and as such it can affect anyone, at anytime, anywhere.
I actually read a comment implying that if he had known the love of God this might not have happened and I was sorely disappointed by the ignorance of that statement. My mother has always loved God...she loved God while she prayed...loved God when she went to church on Sundays...and my mother still loved God just as much when she swallowed a bottle of pills...one by one while hoping to die. She never stopped loving God, she just wanted to end her misery. To imply a loss of religion is the cause of suicide is not only folly and ignorant but dangerous as well. You can not simply wash away a chemical imbalance in your brain with prayer. It does not work that way... So it, in fact, does not matter what religion he may or may not have believed in or if he had or had not known the love of God. Suicide has less to do with one's beliefs and more to do with ending one's pain.
And I am afraid that people will judge him. Some will say snide remarks and ugly comments about his life and decisions or his belief systems. They will call him weak or cowardly. They will act as if they know what was going through his mind or that they would have ended up differently but the truth is most of them have no idea what that struggle is like or how deep the pain of depression can seep into your soul. There will be internet trolls and judgy misguided people with big opinions and little ability to understand anything but their own preconceived notions of mental illness. They will try and make his battle with depression something to be looked down on or ashamed of and that is wrong. His family doesn't need judgments and ignorance, they need understanding and acceptance. He lost his battle but that does not make him weak or cowardly. I am not advocating for suicide. I believe it is devastating. It leaves a definable scar on the fabric of your family that never fully heals. However, I believe that we have to stop demonizing those that have done it and understand that they don't do it because they don't love their families, or they are weak, they do it because they truly at that time are unable to see that there is any other way to end their suffering. They do it because they suffer from a mental illness that is often times overlooked, understated, and stigmatized by the public.
If this tragedy does anything to shed light on the issues of suicide in this country, than I hope it reaches people on a very real level. I hope that it can help end the ignorance and stigma that surrounds the topic of suicide and mental illness. Robin Williams was a wonderful person, a big hearted, loving, magnificent person and he will be sorely missed as will the over 30,000 other Americans that commit suicide in this country every year. Their loss is a tragedy just as horrific and devastating as Mr. Williams's. The discussion of suicide is swept under the rug or discussed only in hushed voices. We owe it to those that have lost their battle with depression and other mental illnesses to stop sticking our heads in the sand. They deserve our attention and their pain deserves to be discussed. Their lives deserve to be talked about and their suicides deserve to be acknowledged so that we can help others before they get to this point of despair.
Suicide is preventable. There is help. There are other options, better options, and until we start being honest about suicide in this country sadly, we will continue lose more people that could have been saved.
My heart goes out to the Williams family and all of his friends, fans, and acquaintances. My heart goes out to the whole world that has lost such a bright, intelligent, and magnificent man that they will never get to know....and my heart goes out to Robin Williams because his pain must have been profound and daunting and because as in so many other cases, we as a society failed to be open about mental illness like we should be and because of that we failed to reach him in time.