The death of Robin Williams has come as a complete shock to all but it lingers in the hazy parts of our brain. It seems beyond comprehension that Robin Williams died of suicide, succumbing to his severe depression. How could the funniest man in the room suffer from depression?
Robin Williams’ performances were broad ranges of manic brilliance, comic timing, creative thinking, heartfelt emotions and vulnerability. He won his only Oscar for playing an empathetic therapist in “Good Will Hunting.” His performance had to be inspired by his real life experiences. It may be that Robin Williams suffered from a dual diagnosis depression. 60% of people suffering from depression have a dual diagnosis; this means that they suffer depression and substance abuse.
His brilliance, his humor, his open heart, his philanthropy, being a loving father, and his vulnerable, honest and searing explanations of the demons that he was fighting touched us in the deepest parts of our brain and hearts. With all of his accolades, he did not hide from the dark side of life. He was open and honest for anyone that could understand or learn from his challenges.
We are struggling to understand how a bright light suffered from such deep darkness and despair.
“You look at the world and see how scary it can be sometimes and still try to deal with the fear,” he said in 1989. “Comedy can deal with the fear and still not paralyze you or tell you that it’s going away. You say, OK, you got certain choices here, you can laugh at them and then once you’ve laughed at them and you have expunged the demon, now you can deal with them. That’s what I do when I do my act.” — Robin Williams
Robin Williams fought valiantly and sought help for his addictions multiple times. He worked to make us laugh as he wore his own mask (and a big red nose as Patch Adams).
For those who think that depression is a sign of weakness or only a disease for the poor and homeless, remember Robin Williams’ 30 plus years of acting, performing, laughter and heart. Remember that he made us laugh when we felt we could not take another step in our own sadness. We sought escape from the struggles and challenges in our own lives by laughing along with him.
He left a legacy of laughter, but also a reminder that even the funniest, most brilliant, man in the room could suffer from depression.
Rest in Peace.
Over 20,000,000 million people in the U.S. are affected by Mental Illness. One of our best and brightest just died from it.
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