Robin Williams and Depression

robin williamsThis week the world lost a beloved comedian and someone who brought joy to generations of adoring fans.  Even with all that he accomplished, he was apparently still not at peace.  Why we ask?  Well, we will never know simply because we’re not him, and he is of course not here to answer.  But what I can tell you is that anyone who thinks they know, or cares to pass quick judgement really shows how little they know (or care) about others and about the world.  It’s impossible for anyone to know how deeply affected someone can be, what demons they battle behind the scenes.  There are many people who fight mental wars every day just to get out of bed and face the world.  They do it anyway, for a myriad of reasons.  Perhaps they are a parent and others depend on them for food, clothing, love, etc., or perhaps they’re a business owner and others depend on them for a paycheck, their mortgages and so on.

Often times these mental wars can be won for extended periods of time until something triggers a revolt.  The negative emotions come pouring in like a mental tidal wave and the board they typically use to successfully surf the waves of anxiety become too big and knock them off balance.  It can happen in an instant, and once the downward spiral starts it’s very hard to get back on the board.  One would think with all of Robin’s resources he would be able to fix it, but his untimely passing is certainly a testament to how debilitating depression can be.  It doesn’t matter how successful, how wealthy, or how beloved you are.  They see themselves through a different set of eyes than the rest of the world.  They feel like they’re a burden to everyone, and if left unchecked they can ultimately feel there is nothing left worth living for.

Incredible sad. Incredibly real.

Recent revelations tell us that Robin Williams was suffering from the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, in and of itself an incredibly big pill for anyone to swallow.  When you consider he was already someone who had been battling depression apparently for quite a long time, and one could easily see how that could permanently knock someone off their board.  I could very easily see how someone who’s major gift to the world was their ability to make people laugh through their physical and frenetic comedy would feel that gift, and their biggest strength, was going to be slowly taken away.

I can’t for a minute begin to speculate what thoughts and feelings went through his, or anyone’s mind – and neither should anyone else.  We should simply be thankful for the gifts each person has and is able to give to the world.  It does no good to try to impose how we “think” we would react to a situation, or overlay our own experiences onto another person’s situation.  As the saying goes, “Each of us is unique – just like everybody else”.

For celebrities to chime in with their own views when some tragedy happens, whether it be political, religious, or whatever platform they’re promoting – is typically in such bad taste you would think they would steer clear and take the high road.  Unfortunately some people live for being provocative – to them no publicity is bad publicity.  Case in point being Gene Simmons stating basically that “people who are depressed should just kill themselves”.   Whether he was referring to addiction or depression, it doesn’t matter.  It was incredibly insensitive, and in bad taste – How incredibly lonely it must be to be so perfect.

There are many people who have developed addictions, anxiety or other maladies so slowly over time that they can’t notice how far they drifted from shore.  Some people are predisposed or have an “addictive personality” while others have chemical imbalances that make them prone to depression or anxiety.  It’s not really a choice in that they choose left or right, red or blue, black or white.  It’s many times a slow evolution and by they time they realize how far away they are, they’ve lost the ability to get back home.

All I can say is I was deeply saddened by Robin’s passing.  I had the pleasure of seeing him perform many years ago, and crossed paths a few feet apart as he was walking down the street outside the venue where he was performing.  I didn’t want to bother him so I didn’t take the opportunity to speak or say hello, but simply seeing him up close was pretty special.  You could just tell he had such energy around him, it was really different from anyone else. It was an amazing show and certainly something I’ll always remember.

At the end of they day, I think we would all be well served by simply realizing that no one is perfect, everyone has their own demons, and we all fight our own mental battles everyday – some big, some small.  Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.  Have compassion for each other, stop being judgmental and realize that we’re all just treading water, trying not to drift too far from shore.


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