Even over a month later I get the wrong kind of goosebumps thinking about Robin Williams’ suicide. I didn’t think I was that big of a fan of his. I didn’t think a celebrity death outside of my immediate circle of idols and heroes would/could affect me the way Williams’ did. I don’t feel like I lost a family member or a close friend, but I do feel like I lost someone just outside that closely guarded circle of loved ones.
I’m not a celebrity worshiper. I only see the E! channel right as I turn it off or insist to my friend or date that he/she turn it off immediately. I don’t read tabloids, TMZ, or celebrity gossip/feature magazines. I only own a handful of Robin Williams movies, but each one is high up in my list of all time favorites.
Robin Williams didn’t just come across as happy, he came across as one of if not the most slapstickiest, happiest people in the history of the world. His comedy made people laugh from their bellies until their face hurt. He had so much staying power in Hollywood, almost forty years, that he could never be scoffed at as a fad or flash in the pan. He was an institution not just of comedy, but of the arts.
Marc Maron recently reposted his 2010 WTF Podcast interview with Robin Williams. The interview was so striking and almost foreshadowing that TIME magazine took notice of it.
Another great podcast, more short form than Maron’s; the Savvy Psychologist from QDT.com, recently had a great podcast debunking suicide myths in the wake of Williams’ suicide.
I have battled depression for now, over half of my life. I recently just had a bout with it from the day after my birthday through the middle of the following month.
I have never taken anti-depressant medication. This most recent bout was the closest I came to seeking pills for help. I suppose a chemical imbalance in the brain, maybe should be treated with chemicals. If I didn’t know people who have had massively bad side effects from taking happy pills, and didn’t read about all of the people who once coming off the drugs were worse than before they went on, I might have been inclined as a youth to allow a medical intervention into my mind and spirit.
The side effect of depression itself that has been most damaging to me; has been an internalized belief of entitlement that, because it is so hard for me to keep my shit together internally, that life should be easy for me. This is coupled with being raised white middle class. A fear/avoidance of the externally difficult, unknown, potentially painful that has led to a case of failure to launch and/or live up to potential. Internal battles that leave me fatigued, burned out, and depleted of willpower.
The battle of depression is an invisible one. The effects are invisible. The side effects are invisible. Robin Williams killing himself shined a very bright light on this invisible fact.
Some side effects of that light have been
- A renewed focus on depression and mental/emotional disorders.
- Suicide hotlines have seen a rise in people calling to seek help/information
And I’ll keep my fingers crossed that young, upper middle class girls will stop talking about #thestruggle in relation to shopping, style, and exercise when people are struggling to live day-to-day but, I also doubt their collective ego-narcissism will dissipate in the face of anything other than the apocalypse.
I know I certainly looked at myself and my situation differently. I for the first time gave serious consideration to taking anti-depressants. The storm passed as I started to research what my options are under the Affordable Care Act. If there is another bout, I certainly will have Robin Williams in mind when I decide what to do to move through the storm. Perhaps others will too. Robin Williams gave so many gifts to the world, perhaps the awareness of the need to seek external help in the face of internal struggle will be his greatest.
Rest in Peace Mr. Williams,