I heard about Robin Williams’ death late last night. I’m on holidays from work, so my keeping up with news is slower than usual. But I had to take a great deal of time to let this sink in.
When I was a kid, I remember seeing Robin Williams on television for the first time with the show Mork & Mindy. The comedy about an alien who comes to Earth and resides with Mindy as roommate (which eventually turns into a very loving relationship).
That was 1978, and Mork & Mindy lasted until 1982. For those five, short seasons, I was introduced to Robin Williams. He made me laugh, and he even made me cry with some of the episodes of the show.
Years later, I watched Good Morning Vietnam, where Williams played the role of the crazy radio host who was broadcasting on Army radio for those serving during the Vietnam war. Williams continued with various comedic and dramatic movie roles, and I saw each of them. Williams was more than just an actor, he was a story teller.
It wasn’t until my late 20s, the tail end of the 20th Century, when I found out that Robin Williams and I had something in common. We both suffer from severe depression. Williams also suffered from alcoholism, which he talked about in many of his stand up routines. I’ve never had that experience, but I’ve known those who have battled alcoholism. Falling off the wagon was often a very real, very concrete thing. The temptation was almost always overwhelming.
Because of the fact Williams and I both suffered from depression, it was sort of an inspiration that if he could go on, then so could I. That, and with the help of friends who knew about this darkness was a great boon to me. Williams’ death, suspected to be suicide, creates a huge void, and leaves a large number of questions hanging in the air.
But we, as a society, need to ensure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. Depression isn’t something that we just ‘get over with’ or ‘try to be happy’. Depression is an ever present weight that presses down. Some days it is unbearable, other days it’s a little easier, but it’s always there.
I’m not the only one who felt a sort of connection with Williams because of a disease we shared in common. There’s thousands out there who will most likely feel the same connection. And all of us need help to get through this, because to lose someone who many thought was on top of his game, can be incredibly heart breaking.
I urge anyone who suffers from depression to just talk to someone, whether it be a councilor, or a family member who understands or even a close friend. Depression is an awful thing and we’re finding so many more people who suffer from it. This is something we have to confront on a daily basis. And because of Williams’ death, there may be those out there who feel as though that life just isn’t worth living if someone like him were to end it all.
Mourn, grieve, and celebrate the man who was. And live for tomorrow, just as you do for today.