Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams: Gone Too Soon

I am literally heartbroken over Robin Williams' death. And stunned.  It seems so out of the blue. He was one of the funniest men to ever walk this earth.  He had a genuineness about him that made him likable and relatable.  His characters were diverse, showing his depth as an actor and a comedian.

Growing up in the 80's and 90's, he was everywhere.  And to my generation, he was like a father to us.  Movies like Aladdin, Hook, and Mrs. Doubtfire portrayed him in a paternal role, yet always with a spin. In Aladdin, he brought the Genie to life, to look after and grant wishes for his pal Aladdin.   In Hook, he never gave up the love of his son Peter and went between worlds to bring him back.  In Mrs. Doubtfire, that same love drove him to dress up as an elderly woman to remain in his kids' everyday lives after divorce.  He made us laugh, and he made us cry.  We all loved him, no matter what role he played.  He was easy to like, and you laughed on the inside just looking at him, because he was THAT funny.

So the news of his death, a probable suicide, rocked us all to our very core.  How could this have happened?  How could a man, so funny, so loved, have felt so alone that he took his own life?  He had a family who he obviously loved, and who obviously loved him in return.  He had the admiration of his fans.  Apparently he sought help in the recent past, but it would appear to have been too late.  Something inside of him was not settled.  

A few thoughts have stuck out in my mind since this tragedy happened last evening.  The first of which is that depression is real and it is scary.  I know how I felt when I was dealing with postpartum depression, which was thankfully temporary and short term,  and I can honestly say that I was not myself.  I was not thinking and acting and feeling like the real me.  I was going through the motions in life, but I wasn't really living it.  So in that way, I can relate even a little bit to how Robin must have been feeling.  His struggle with depression obviously took him out of his "normal" mind and into a dark and scary place.  Despite all the love that surrounded him, he just couldn't deal with the reality around him.  I know that feeling.  Thankfully my depression never got to the point where I had thoughts of self-harm, but I see how quickly it could escalate to that point.  I am thankful that it didn't for me, and I am heartbroken that it did for him and so many others.

The second thought that keeps crossing my mind is to not judge a book by its cover.  Before yesterday, most people could never have imagined Robin Williams as a man with depression who would end up taking his own life.  He was the consummate funny man, his name synonymous with the sound of laughter.  And yet that is exactly what happened.  As a society and as individuals, we are sometimes too quick to judge others only by what we see in front of us.  In reality, that is only a snapshot of a person and of their life, their situation, their circumstance.   I myself tried to put on a brave face during my postpartum depression.  I didn't want to admit to others how I was feeling.  I was ashamed of it, and felt like less of a mother as a result of it.  Those closest to me saw the truth, but those more removed saw my Facebook posts and smiling pictures, not realizing the misery that I was feeling behind it.  I have to believe that this is what happened with Robin Williams as well.  As an actor, he could put on a brave face that probably could fool just about anyone.  I'm sure those close to him tried to help, as those close to me did.  But the truth is, there's no magic pill, there's no cure.  Something inside of you just has to change for the better.  I guess it didn't for him.

Lastly, I beg of anyone that feels the way that Robin did, or anyone who might be struggling with depression as I did, GET HELP.  Please.  Stop caring what society thinks of you, stop caring about others judging you, stop feeling weak because you have a problem.  You matter.  Take care of yourself, physically, mentally, spiritually, whatever it takes to help you find peace.  Life is too short, and you were put on this Earth for a reason.  So please, do something.  Talk to a counselor, talk to a priest or pastor or rabbi, talk to a friend or a coworker.  Go to church, take a yoga class, start a journal, start a blog, reconnect with old friends or loved ones.  Try something.  And if that something doesn't work, try something else, until you find something that gives you even a little bit of peace.  And finally, don't give up.  Just don't.  Call someone, call 911, call a mental health professional.  But don't give up.  

I want to end with a quote from Mrs. Doubtfire that brought tears to my eyes this morning.  This is how I will always remember Robin Williams.  I hope and pray that he is at peace now, and that the angels are roaring with laughter.

"All my love to you poppet.  You're going to be all right.  Bye bye." <3

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