Many won’t ever know what it is to lose someone they love after that person has lost their own sense of personal joy. I do. Though the final lynch pin in my mother’s medical madness that stretched across most of my childhood and adult life, was technically cancer, her first diagnosis and underlying illness was always your basic, run of the mill, albeit ultimately crippling – depression. My mother darted in and out of personal happiness and emotional stability for most of my life. The first time was when I was 12 and she attempted suicide. Needless to say this was a turning point in my life. And today millions of people around the globe felt a profoundly similar gut wrenching pain for someone most of us never knew on such an intimate level.
We lost Robin Williams.
I say “we” not because any of us, his multitude of fans, knew him personally. We didn’t have the close relationship that Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg or Joy Behar had with him. More importantly, we are not his children, nor his wife. Most of us, in the general multitude of mourners, do not have the right to be as presumptuous to in any way be able to claim him as family, friend or even colleague.
But in this moment it doesn’t feel like that. It feels that each of us has lost someone incredibly special – someone we knew, trusted, relied on, and reveled in. And that was the magic of this man’s comedic and dramatic talent and the transparent depth of his artistic soul.
And that’s the point. We are shocked and hurt that he would do something like this? How could he take his own life? When did it get so bad? Why couldn’t he get help? He was Robin frickin’ Williams for God’s sake?!
But depression is an illness, and a serious one. It does not pass over the homes of the wealthy, the funny or the famous like the Angel of Death in the Charlton Heston 1956 classic, The Ten Commandments.
Depression does not discriminate and instead ignores all manner of class, race and socio-economic status.
It’s public record that Mr. William’s demons were masked by years of self-medicating behaviors and experiences of substance abuse. If his life is to have any greater impact than how we saw him on screen, may it be this:
Treating the symptoms of depression through drugs and alcohol does not work, is not an effective cure and ultimately can only lead to heartache and despair. Let Robin’s memory be more than a blessing. Let it serve a higher purpose. Take note if a loved one or friend is exhibiting similar behavior, it could be masking a deep seated depression that often times is not discovered until it is too late.
I have no words except to beg anyone who suffers from, or knows anyone who suffers from depression, to seek help. It is not for me to judge what method or modality is “best” to treat depression. There are too many variables and karmic, never mind bio-chemical reasons one might suffer from this devastating state of dis-ease.
I leave you with a repost from one of my FB friends, Stephen Dimmick:
Mork: This week I discovered a terrible disease called loneliness.
Orson: Do many people on Earth suffer from this disease?
Mork: Oh yes sir, and how they suffer. One man I know suffers so much he has to take a medication called bourbon, even that doesn’t help very much because then he can hear paint dry.
Orson: Does bed rest help?
Mork: No because I’ve heard that sleeping alone is part of the problem. You see, Orson, loneliness is a disease of the spirit. People who have it think that no one cares about them.
Orson: Do you have any idea why?
Mork: Yes sir you can count on me. You see, when children are young, they’re told not to talk to strangers. When they go to school, they’re told not to talk to the person next to them. Finally when they’re very old, they’re told not to talk to themselves, who’s left?
Orson: Are you saying Earthlings make each other lonely?
Mork: No sir I’m saying just the opposite. They make themselves lonely, they’re so busy looking out for number one that there’s not enough room for two.
Robin Williams, may the Angels gather you close and enjoy all of your heavenly gifts now, until you return to bless this earth once again. And if you’re as funny and beloved as you were here on Earth, they might not let you come back so soon. Until then, we will all miss you very, very much.