I’ve been trying to find the right words and right time to put my thoughts to paper (well, internet) about the recent events that I feel almost literally shocked the nation (maybe world? Is that too much?).
Image via newyorker.com
While I will never claim to be the biggest Robin Williams fan, I did enjoy his work. I haven’t seen everything he’s produced, including some of the “greats” that people give me a surprised look when I tell them, ‘no, I haven’t seen Good Will Hunting or Dead Poets Society’. What I can do is relate to part of what we’ve now discovered was going on behind closed doors, to what close friends see in hindsight as a call for help. I’ve been in his place, granted, without the fame and fortune part, and that was by far, the worst part of my life.
I’ve heard and read about some people calling him a coward or selfish and that annoys me to the most because more likely than not, the people making these comments have never had a mental illness, or never suffered so much as to understand a glimpse of what could have been running through this man’s head.
In all honesty, I believe taking your own life requires a great deal of bravery. It’s something people think of doing but either are talked out of it, or like me, are too scared to go through with it. Look at it this way, you’re taught your whole life about not dying. You’re taught to be healthy, to be active, to treat and prevent diseases you come across. As a kid you’re taught about “stranger danger” and to look both ways before crossing a street. Everything is geared toward helping you stay alive. Well, maybe not everything… There are a few things that make your life more interesting, like drugs and alcohol, but you’re taught from an early age that drugs are bad.
Image via izismile.com
There are articles and pinterest boards and blogs dedicated to the beauty of the world. There are so many amazing things every where you look. But when you have a mental illness, particularly where depression is either the cause or a side effect, you start to see the world differently. I know it was incredibly hard to find the bright side of anything during my lowest times. I even thought I was going truly insane at one point.
With all of these things and people trying to make the world a better place and you can’t see that, what’s the point? You don’t see happiness. You probably haven’t seen happiness for years. Sure, you put up a front for people to look normal. For Robin Williams, that must have come rather easy, living most of his life as an entertainer of some sort.
I can understand why people would see his acts as selfish, but it’s another case of not being able to see life through his eyes. When you’re alone in that hole you live in, where light barely enters, if at all, you start to see yourself as being more of a burden. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to get that far and you just think you’re not worth it. The thought of you being dead outweighs the prospective pain your death would cause to others. So no, he wasn’t selfish. He felt like he was saving his loved ones from the burden that was himself.
I will say that the choice he make isn’t something you decide to do on a whim. You have to think about it for a long time. You need to make sure you want to do it, that all of what you want to be done is done, and eventually build the courage to actually do it. Williams left this earth with 3 films in post-production. If he started planning this while filming, he probably made sure that everything with them was taken care of beforehand.
The impact that Robin Williams made while alive was absolutely astounding. There have been numerous tributes to him
And of course, the tribute from talk show host, Jimmy Fallon:
Hopefully in his death, it will be a wake-up call for people to realize that mental issues are a real thing and need the same attention as the physical illnesses that you can see. There’s hope, but I’m not so sure.