A Dark Place Author: clintsterDate:08/13/2014 12:48:52
"Robin Williams has died"
Four words I never thought I would ever hear, read, or utter. I suppose that might be foolish of me to say; after all, Robin was over a decade older than me and statistically likely to pass away before I did. However, it just didn't seem possible that someone so talented, so vivacious, so beloved could die.
When the sheriff's department confirmed that he had died by his own hand, it further sent a chill through my soul. I knew that he had been battling depression throughout his career. I knew that he was struggling with addiction to drugs and alcohol long before I became fully aware of these problems. Still in all, I figured that he could rise above and continue as the man I knew, loved, and respected for many years to come.
Unfortunately, Robin' Williams life proved too much for him. His recent television series had been cancelled after a lackluster season. He was trying to move through the pain of two divorces, and had recently put his home up for sale. In late June, he even checked into an addiction rehabilitation facility, ostensibly for "continued sobriety".
It seems that he was overwhelmed by everything that went on around him and could not take it any more. Yet as I looked through reactions online following the announcement of his passing, I found scattered amongst the innumerable reminiscences and expressions of grief a smattering of intolerance for his depression and what it led to.
There were those who viewed his suicide as a "selfish" or "cowardly" act. Others decried it and the causal depression as symptoms of a "Hollywood culture" gone terribly wrong. Still others seemed to be shocked that a man who spent his entire life working to make people laugh could be so miserable as to consider suicide as an option.
Having been diagnosed with depression, and gone through similar experiences as Robin Williams over the past two years, I can understand what must have gone through his mind over the last few months of his life. One other post/quote/whatever that I saw over the past day or so was from people who claimed that they were depressed but "got over it".
Depression is not always something you just "get over". Sometimes it is situational and can be alleviated. Most of the time, however, serious depression is a chronic mental disorder. It can cripple someone emotionally and physically. More often than not a person suffering from chronic depression can put on a brave face for a while and seem like everything's fine, even if they are torn up inside.
Sometimes depression can be managed, through different means. A person may live a "normal" life span with depression without ever deciding to end it all. Other times someone may decide to self-medicate in order to make the pain go away. Robin Williams went more than six decades without resorting to suicide. This makes him neither a "weak" person nor a "hero". He lasted longer than others; unfortunately he was unable to quell the urges to leave us all early.
Hopefully, in future years, the greatest memory of Robin Williams will be that of an incredibly gifted comedian and actor, as someone who could be hilarious in one turn and heartbreakingly serious in the next. It is my wish that in future years he be remembered more for his giving and his devotion to charitable causes than for the way in which he left this plane of existence. As the shock of his death subsides, please take a moment and remember the good things he did. While you do, though, please remember that depression does not always lead to suicide, and that you can help someone in trouble.