By now, unless you have been living under a rock, you are aware of the tragic passing of Robin Williams. His untimely death should serve as a reminder to everyone that no one is immune to mental health issues. Here we had an iconic comedian, a man who by any guesstimate made millions of people laugh billions of times, a man beloved by those who knew him best as well as those who never stepped foot on the same Continent as him. There is a lot to be said for anyone who has such wide appeal to so many, his zany personality connected with so many people, but let’s not forget his ability to take on serious roles as an actor and do so flawlessly. Robin Williams was truly a generational artist, I cannot point to another actor/comedian who brought so much to so many.
Just like all of us, we all knew that Robin was battling his own demons, the extent of which perhaps we are just now finding out. I had heard/read some snide comments already, how people cannot ‘understand’ how someone so happy and who elicits such happy emotions can be so unhappy on the inside. Why is this bizarre? This is the norm, not an outlier, people battling depression don’t walk around all day with their hands in their pockets kicking rocks, they lead normal lives, or as close to normal as they can take. They are your colleagues, your neighbors, your family, no matter how many laughs are born by a person, don’t let the exterior tell you the full story.
How often these days do we truly, genuinely try to get to know people in & out? We get asked bottled questions and we give bottled responses, we don’t dig any deeper. I don’t know if we have always been that way, but the older I get the less interested people seem to be in other people, and this is disturbing. Perhaps we are numb to so much more now because we constantly get reminded of horror & tragedy via news, twitter etc. We hear a bit of bad news and almost instantaneously we are being buried under the next news story, no real time allowed to digest what we just learned, to empathize with people we don’t or never will know.
Robin had family, loved ones, did they know how pained he was? There is no right answer to that question, my heart breaks at the thought of not being around for my own family, and I cannot imagine the inner turmoil a person goes thru when they make the decision that they have only one way to stop the pain. In Robin’s passing, I hope we can all look at our loved ones a bit differently, and everyone else for that matter. Depression is often times not visible, your little day to day interactions with people can have a resounding affect, don’t waste it twiddling with your phone or having someone’s words glance off of you.
As we reflect on this tragic and sad loss, please look at those around you, especially if they’ve mentioned depression before. We may think there is time to get help and that we can wait it out. This simply isn’t the case. If you know of someone around you who needs help, please reach out today. One more day living with sadness is too much. One more loss of life is too much. It’s upon all of us to save those in society who are struggling and to make real, honest connections with those close to us.