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On Robin William’s Tragic Passing and the Nature of Human Depression, Desperation, and Redemption
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He shall be missed.

As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, prolific and incredibly popular American actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead in his California apartment last night on August 11th, 2014. The man was 63 years old.

The exact details as to the cause of Williams’ death and his life leading up to last night are a bit fuzzier, but so far the consensus seems to be that the cause of death was suicide due to asphyxiation, specifically self-hanging with a belt. Given other circumstances surrounding the actor’s death (cuts along his wrist from a nearby knife) and the fact that Williams had been seeking professional medical help for depression and substance-abuse problems in the months prior to the event, it seems very likely that Williams was suffering from some form of emotional disorder, deteriorating mental health, and was obviously suicidal.

My purposes with this newest page are twofold. One, I want recognize along with everybody else what a tragedy this is that such a talented man as Robin Williams has gone too soon and in such a likely painful, tortured way. I grew up with the man’s acting and enjoyed many of his films. They are a part of me as much as any film I’ve ever watched. Second and even more emphatically, I wish to analyze the actual alleged cause of the actor’s demise including and especially the man’s personal demons and his eventual end at his own hand. I wish to confront the issues of depression, mental health, and suicidality in a way that hopefully spreads awareness about the very murky and incredibly misunderstood nature of those problems.

First of all, any time an artist of such fame and magnitude passes away, we all feel a great deal of loss and confusion. People like Robin Williams are public figures that most everybody knows in some way and the idea of their passing is strange and unsettling. Many of us grew up with his classics like Mrs. Doubtfire (1993, arguably the best modern use of actor cross-dressing), Jumanji (1995, one of the most ambitious [and gloriously chaotic] family adventure-comedies of the ’90’s) and especially Good Will Hunting (1997, an introspective feelgood story to end all feelgood stories). Particularly that latter film exemplified Williams’ status as a father-figure to us younger viewers. Many of his adolescent fans who came of age in the ’90’s and 2000’s saw him as an extension of our own familial male role models — the loving father, the experienced mentor, the wisecracking, wise-ass, and infinitely wise uncle, and so forth.

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Really, how many better surrogate father-figures are there in cinema?

I’m trying to think of another famous figure or actor who’s passed away recently that’s affected me or saddened me the way Williams’ passing has, and I can’t really come up with one that even comes close. Certainly the recent passings of Paul Walker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Michael Jackson were very sad, but speaking to my own personal upbringing I wasn’t nearly as connected to them as I was with ole Robin. This may be the most “personal” celebrity death that has occurred in my lifetime so far, and even being so far removed as “simply a fan” and not bearing any close familial or friendship relationship with the man, I feel a heavy heart reminiscing about watching Williams fighting mutant plants while he tried to save his friends or giving peptalks ripe with worldly wisdom to a youthful Matt Damon. I can only imagine how his immediate family, friends, and colleagues feel.

That brings me to my second and equally important point with this essay regarding the nature of and circumstances surrounding the man’s death, circumstances that make his passing hit even closer to home for me. Like other public figures before him, including arguably the most infamous example in Grunge-rock legend Kurt Cobain’s self-inflicted death by firearm in 1994, Robin Williams passed away at his own hand. He willingly chose to “opt out” as they say and take his own life, ending everything once and for all. He will now become yet another statistic in the increasingly recognized data files of mental health victims, suicide causalities, and yes, emotionally tortured celebrities whose fame and talent were in the end little comfort to face such mental anguish and despair.

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My Empathy Regarding the Circumstances and Causes of Williams’ Death

While I can never hope to fully relate 100% to Williams’ exact life situation for obvious reasons, to a large extent I feel that I can empathize with the man’s plight and circumstances leading up to his death if he did indeed suffer from intense feelings of depression and did indeed take his own life out of a wish to end it all. If Williams went through what I’m strongly willing to bet he went through, than I — and many others, both famous and “ordinary” people — can relate to his situation. We relate to his situation and also importantly refrain from passing negative judgement (or judgement of any kind, other than sadness) on the cause of his death. Those of us who have experienced extreme depression, emotional problems, mental health issues, (or however you classify them or whatever semantics you choose), or have known and lived with those who have suffered as such, can in this crucial way walk a mile in Robin Williams’ shoes.

I will be upfront and frank on this issue. I have gone through many years of severe depression, emotional instability, and exhibited the erratic and destructive behavior that so often accompanies such emotional disorders. While I never succumbed to substance abuse in the way Williams allegedly did, my physical and mental health deteriorated due to my emotional instability. Like Williams I eventually sought out professional medical help along with assistance from family and friends after long suffering in silence. I attended weekly psychological therapy sessions with numerous counselors, I saw various psychiatrists and took countless cocktails of psychotropic medication, I attended group counseling meetings, and so on. Many things helped, but many things didn’t. Often times I felt like I was merely treading water or getting by. I frequently felt like I was doing enough to survive and function on a basic level, go to classes, do homework, and not totally fall apart, but that was about it.

Sometimes counseling sessions and medications were effective (one of the few things I did well during my treatment was attend therapy and take medications consistently, which is crucial for recovery), sometimes they weren’t. One counselor might relate to me and speak to my problems very well, and thus offer helpful advice and guidance on how to deal with my problems, while another might be borderline useless. Often times the drugs I took didn’t do anything to help stabilize my mood, other times they worked extremely well but also came accompanied by a myriad of debilitating side effects (increased tendency toward weight gain, sexual dysfunction, extreme lethargy and drowsiness, etc), while still yet countless magical pills and tablets fit somewhere in between.

Drowning depression

Oftentimes, our happiness is judged relative to the happiness of others. To suffer in company is bearable, to suffer alone is a nightmare.

Eventually though, despite seeking treatment I became extremely suicidal and had to leave school for two years. I exhibited the typical, some would say “stereotypical” behavior of a depressed, emotionally compromised individual. I slept most of the day and spent most of my waking hours in my room in the dead of night. I avoided contact with other people when I could and was often despondent, down, or worse, aggressive and hostile when I did interact with others. My exercise routine, diet, and general physical health went to shit and I became extremely sedentary and out of shape. In the time before I left school, I had at least been eating well and exercising (things that are as critical to maintaining mental/emotional well-being as any medication or therapy session), but once I was turned away from school repeatedly, I began to mentally throw in the towel. I gained a lot of weight and had terrible trouble sleeping. I ate tons of junk food and “comfort food” to get by, all of which just made things worse in the long run. I become increasingly depressed, hostile, and even violent.

The problem with mental illnesses or emotional disorders or whatever you want call them, is that people still in this day and age largely don’t understand them and thus don’t understand those who suffer from them. The general public’s level of misunderstanding with regards to things like depression, bipolar disorders, or substance abuse is amazing given how statistically prevalent these issues are in society. Many people suffer from severe emotional problems (even rich, talented, intelligent, famous people like Robin Williams), and yet countless more still can’t even begin to comprehend what we go through, or even worse pass condescending, horrifically inappropriate judgement on those who suffer.

The big issue with mental disorders is that, unlike a “typical” physical injury like a broken leg, a torn ACL, or even some non-emotional disease like cancer or the flu, mental disorders affect your personality. Where as a broken leg sucks and leaves a person fairly incapacitated (I would know, I’ve had three), you largely still act and behave around others the same as you would if you had two good legs. Sure, most people get pretty frustrated and bored with having to hobble everywhere on crutches, and not being able to play any sports is a pain in the ass, but you’re still mostly the same person as you were before your injury. With something like depression that’s not the case at all. When you’re depressed or in general suffer from severe emotional “angst” let’s call it, your mood changes, your personal feelings are altered, your perceptions of the world and the behavior of other people tend to be severely warped (usually for the worse), and you start to not act like yourself. Extroverted people can become incredibly reclusive, happy people become lonely and sad, friendly people turn hostile and rude, and even generally peaceful, harmless folks can turn violent and scary. The problem with emotional disorders is that they change how you act as a person, they can hugely alter your personality, and thus the way people see you as who you are changes. Because depressed people seem like they metamorphose into different people, namely strange, reclusive, asshole-y versions of their former selves, but at the same time don’t show any obvious physical wounds, other folks tend to see those suffering from mental problems as self-absorbed, jerky weirdos. They blame the victims because they think those victims are just choosing to be hostile, weird, or rude. After all, normal mature people can control their behavior, so why can’t these particular people? Mental health disorders are tricky, complex issues that are hard to diagnose by the uninitiated, so most folks who haven’t experienced emotional health problems or don’t know those who have don’t understand them and tend to dismiss the depressed as just rotten people who choose to be jerks — when the actual reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

I could write all day and fill countless posts with my descriptions of the feelings and emotional reality of depression, so I’ll try to be as brief as I can. When you’re depressed, you’re really sad and down but there’s a lot more to it than that. You become sad, but you don’t bounce back to being happy — you just stay sad and continue to feel sad. Maybe “sad” isn’t even the right word. You just feel “depressed” for lack of a better word. The things you used to feel good about, the activities that used to fill you with joy, don’t really do much for you anymore and it becomes hard to get excited or be happy about pretty much anything, and what’s worse is that you rarely understand exactly why. If your condition worsens as it often does without outside help, your feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression deepen and your personality becomes more affected. You tend to see things in a constant negative light, you grow mildly paranoid and always seem to fear the worst in people. You feel people negatively judging you constantly and judge yourself harshest of all. As all these feelings compound and make you feel glummer and darker, you start to feel more and more isolated from those around you who appear normal, content, and most insufferable of all, happy. You feel like you’re the only one who feels this way, and you feel like few, if any people understand you. Life just becomes one long, sad, depressing, and incredibly un-fun movie that repeats itself ad inifitum. You find yourself just going through the motions because, well, what else is there to do?

If things begin to take a turn for the severe, a new set of emotions arise and rear their ugly heads: Frustration at your loneliness and isolation and then resentment at your fellow human beings for not understanding you, for not bothering to help you. Then comes the most dangerous emotionally disturbed feeling of all: Anger. Not everyone who experiences depression exhibits feelings of anger the exact same way of course, but everyone who becomes severely depressed experiences intense feelings of frustration, resentment, and anger to some extent. You become mad at yourself for feeling sad all the time, you become mad at the world and other people for making you feel bad, and most of all, you become majorly pissed that you’re the only one who seems to feel this way and everyone couldn’t care less about how you feel, and worst of all, seem perfectly happy and content regardless of your suffering.

It’s usually at this point where depressed, emotionally compromised individuals go from suppressed, increasingly quiet recluses to becoming actively irritated, hostile assholes. Relationships with families, significant others, and friends become severely tested. I myself hurt many family members, my girlfriend, and my friends repeatedly. I destroyed multiple friendships through my harmful destructive behavior. I became a monster at times and said horrible, hurtful things and even became violent. Times like these are all very awful for everyone involved.

In light of examples such as myself, it’s easy and more understandable in retrospect for those close to the emotionally compromised person to blame the victim. We depressed individuals can be incredibly mean, toxic, and violent to those around us. It’s not uncommon for those close to us to cut ties because, quite frankly, we become more trouble than we’re worth.

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On the Public’s Misunderstanding of Emotional Health Crises, Hostility, and Suicidality

Truly and undeniably, depressed people are difficult to feel for because we act so hostile to those around us and it’s often unclear to the uninitiated what exactly is going on. Even if those near us understand that what we’re going through is a mental health issue, it’s rare for those people to know how or want to deal with us if they haven’t dealt with emotionally compromised people before. Most folks steer clear of the depressed. They pass judgment on us as simply jerks or label us as too far gone, or they just plain wash their hands of the whole affair even though active compassion and attention are what we so desperately need to recover.

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Yup.

People need to understand that things like “tough love” or telling people to “suck it up” or “just snap out of it” (“it” being our poor moods I assume) are probably the worst methods for helping depressed people. Even when situations become violent, matching hostility with hostility or taking the route of confrontation with unstable individuals is an incredibly unreliable and clumsy way of dealing with these people. It’s one of the reasons why confrontations with police, organizations notorious for putting their own health and safety above the civilians they’re supposed to protect and incredibly prone to using excessive force and paranoia with regards to unruly individuals, are so horrifically unsuited for dealing with people who are not in their proper state of mind. It’s rather eye-opening (to the uninitiated, not to those of us who understand emotional extremities and desperation) that showing compassion and understanding to a violent, disturbed person ready to wreak havoc is a far more effective, logical solution to dealing with mental health violence than a person in uniform shouting back with a weapon in their hands. With that said, though, people in general, not just police officers, are notoriously naive, ignorant, and ineffective when it comes to de-escalating encounters with mentally unstable individuals.

I do not mean to say that people who are depressed or are mentally disturbed should not be held accountable for their often appalling actions, whether mild or severe. We should be held responsible. However, the general public’s attitude toward and gross misunderstanding with how to approach and solve mental health crises stems from the public’s inability to understand the influence and power of emotional instability. When you’re emotionally compromised, logic and reason and threats of punishment mean little to us. If you are in fact of a healthy state of mind, then logic dictates that mentally and emotionally unhealthy people are not going to be swayed by logic and are instead almost entirely controlled and fueled by emotion. Humans are incredibly illogical and emotionally driven animals to begin with, so take a depressed, possibly suicidal character and you have no hope whatsoever of reaching them through “sensible,” logical reasonings of responsibility or long-term consequences. That shit can come later when everyone’s thinking clearly, but by and large people who are severely emotionally depressed aren’t thinking clearly most every moment of their waking hours, let alone when they feel ready to take their own lives.

This is one of the big reasons why people blaming suicide victims or labeling them as “selfish,” or “cowards,” or say they “took the easy way out” pisses me off to no end. Even a famous, mostly universally beloved and respected artistic figure like Robin Williams has already received his fair share of suicide-victim-blaming hate, with people using the logic that since he ended his own life, we really shouldn’t feel that sorry for him, or that in fact those close to him at his time of death are the real victims of this tragedy.

I beg to differ.

If people as rich, famous, and respected as Williams and Cobain get hated on for “taking the easy way out” (I’d like to see those same hecklers attempt such an “easy,” painless, nonchalant act of will so carelessly), you can only imagine how ordinary non-famous folks are derailed and spit upon for succeeded or attempted suicide. Yes we do act selfishly, yes we do act rude, and yes, to a large extent we can be incredibly insufferable at times. However, to dismiss the equally incredible, equally genuine, real emotional anguish we feel and that influences us to act that way is an ultimate act of hubris, ignorance, and lack of compassion and empathy.

People often assert themselves as mentally or emotionally tougher and more resilient than those of us who have suffered depression and attempted/completed suicide. I dare those same individuals to experience the same lifetime situations, emotional blows, and torturous mental grind that occurs day in and day out that I went through —- or that Robin Williams went through, or that Kurt Cobain went through, or that millions of other emotionally wounded individuals went through or are still going through on a daily basis. When you’re life feels like a Nine Inch Nails album on a daily basis for more than two years, trust me, you will start to see an end to it all as entirely plausible and “reasonable” option, however great and horrific an act of will it actually is. Everybody, no matter the original cause(s), no matter their intelligence, creativity, personality, social class, race, or gender can only stand so much emotional pain and isolation before too much becomes just too Goddamned much.

And to those of you who think that the real victims of suicide are the dead one’s surviving family and loved ones, think again. I do not dismiss the horrible suffering of those around mentally compromised people, especially suicide victims, assuredly. One of the horrible, long recognized facts of misery is that it does indeed love company and one of the twisted side effects of depression is that you can’t stand to suffer alone, and thus if you cannot be in the company of others in their happiness, at least you can make them join you somewhat in your own suffering. However, the notion that the greatest victims of suicide are those that survive is such a gross incompetence of understanding of human life that it baffles the mind. Yes, those close to Mr. Williams and countless other suicide “success” stories are indeed suffering, and they should be comforted in their turmoil. I do not envy their situation and the anticipated guilt of one’s family’s (or friends’) suffering in light of their suicide is often the best (short-term) deterrent of suicide completion, but the fact of the matter is that those non-suicidal family and friends members are still alive. If we agree on the logic that, where there’s life there is always hope, and that suicide is indeed a permanent solution to a temporary problem, than emotionally sound logic dictates that those who survive are better off than those who are dead for whatever reason, regardless of the current happiness level of those still living. You see, people who suffer a loved one’s or close friend’s death by their own hand have it bad, yes, but not as bad as those who are dead. Because the people who committed suicide are, well, dead, and nothing’s going to change that. The loved ones will never fully “move on” from this, but they will live on, continue to love others, find fulfilling friendships, get to enjoy ice cream, and the warm breeze of a good sunny day. You can’t say the same for those who committed suicide.

Again, if we are using the logic that depression and sadness are only temporary however horrific the source of depression or sadness may be, than those who survive have an opportunity to live and love again. They have the ability and opportunity to be happy. Those who are dead do not. Those who suffered extreme emotional angst to their final moments before they took their own lives will never have an opportunity to live, love, or feel anything again. They do not get to eat ice cream again, or fall in love, or watch cartoons, or do anything, period. Assuming you are one so incompassionate, dogmatic, and plain cruel to believe that suicide victims should and will burn in some sort of “hell” or be punished by some all-powerful deity for rejecting life, then my point is only magnified exponentially. Assuming any sort of god exists that would continue to punish a person after death for suffering so much in life to the point where he or she ended it, I would not want to worship him anyway.

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What We Must Do to Curb the Emotional Suffering of Others: Compassion and Understanding, Not Judgement and Condescension

In light of all this, all that has happened to such a great man like Robin Williams, what has happened to so many others, and will no doubt continue to happen to many more good folks in the future, I have a proposition to make: People need to be on the look out for those suffering from depression and similar mental/emotional disorders. The only ways to effectively and reliably combat emotional suffering is with compassion and, if not empathy, then sympathy. I know it’s definitely not easy a lot of the time. People who are depressed are generally a pain to be around — they’re rude, self-absorbed, and really irritable, and the more depressed they are the more rude, self-absorbed, and irritable they are. I also understand that one can’t be there all the time, everywhere, for everybody. However, if you think you notice someone suffering from emotional instability (and it gets easier to spot the more you look for it), don’t pass judgement on them. The very least you could do is be nice to them, offer them compassion instead of disdain, offer words of sympathy instead of cheesy, condescending pep talks. If they are obviously suicidal or severely depressed, it still doesn’t take much effort to urge them to seek help. It may not do much, but it’s better than nothing at all.

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You tell ’em, Em. “Beautiful,” by Eminem

If a loved one or close friend is suffering, then I assert that is your duty to go the extra mile, above and beyond, for those people. If you love a person, either as a family member, a romantic partner, or as a friend, then you owe it to them to help them out. I understand it can be hard even if you love them and you’re really close — Lord knows I’ve treated my family, girlfriend, and friends like crap at times throughout my time as an afflicted personality — but the thing is, that’s what loved ones are for, not just for the good times, but for the bad times as well — especially the bad times. A friend in need is a friend indeed, no? If you love somebody, you stick with that person through thick and thin, not just when it’s most convenient. Again, that’s not to excuse the often tiresome and incredibly frustrating behavior of depressed individuals (particularly and especially my own), but the time for assuming responsibility and making amends comes after people have stopped wanting to kill themselves and see every waking moment as full of lonely sadness and angst, not before. You will never convince a person so wrapped up in their isolation and more or less addicted to their own sadness to willingly own up to their actions. Wounded people need to be made whole before they can come to terms with others.

And finally, this last plea goes double, no triple, for those who have suffered from emotional disorders in the past. I myself am largely recovered from the utter darkness and Trent Reznor-esque rage of the past few years, but I’m still so close to that bad period in my life that those horrible feelings of sadness, depression, and frustration are as fresh as this morning’s corn flakes that are still stuck in my teeth. I no longer suffer from them for the most part but I know damn good and well how they felt. I wouldn’t wish those experiences on my worst enemy, let alone the average person on the street or God forbid those I dearly care about.

Those who have gone through a literal hell on earth to see the light of day again, gone through winter to finally reach spring so to speak, know the plight of individuals currently suffering emotional problems better than any. It’s one of the big reasons why psychological and psychiatric professionals who have themselves actually experienced emotional turmoil tend to be a lot more adept at solving their patient’s problems than those who have not. Understandably, no one wants to be roped back into the despair that the thirst for misery in company so desperately wants, but speaking from experience those who have tangoed in the lion’s den and survived know best how to tackle future psychological booby traps and relate to others with similar problems. The fact of the matter is that no one who has gone through emotional turmoil and recovered did it on their own — most of us had massive amounts of help from either our family, friends, significant others, medical professionals, or some combination thereof. Moreover, those of us who have recovered know the horrible feelings of abandonment you got when those you loved refused to help you when the perceived personal cost to them became too high. Imagine how much easier things would’ve been if everybody (or at least everybody close to you) reached out to you and was always there right from the start. Maybe things would’ve been much less painful and your suffering wouldn’t have gone on for nearly as long.

What I’m trying to say is that those who have been depressed and gotten better are obligated to help those suffering now and in the future. You can’t solve everyone’s problems, and there’s little any one person can do to change another, sure, but you owe it to your own survival and to those who helped you (or didn’t) in the past to at least offer support for those in similar need. Those of you who have looked desperation and darkness square in the face and lived to tell the tale possess one of the most powerful, world-changing and perspective-altering abilities on earth: Empathy. The power to put oneself in another’s shoes and truly walk a mile in them, to relate to them on an intimate level, is a power that few people actually have and are able to use to their advantage. It’s a community-benefactor power, it’s an invaluable tool of a good samaritan, it’s a necessary requirement for true human understanding, and it’s what the best of friends have.

And this leads me to my final point (really this time), and that is this: In my experience, especially with regards to myself but also to others I’ve met with similar personal history, those who have suffered depression rarely look back upon it with resentment or shame. They didn’t enjoy their time with life’s worst demons, nor are they proud of the bad things they said and did, but they don’t hold the view that what they went through was just a speed bump that temporarily sidelined them from healthy personal growth. The view that I and many like-minded people hold is that our throes with emotional angst, sadness, and desperation actually made us stronger people. We are not weaker because we went through the darkness, we are stronger for it. People who have suffered emotional turmoil have wells of experience and an ability to relate to others that is hard to come by. Like education in general, knowledge of the human condition inevitably makes people more appreciative of life and their experiences therein.

Given that this is (mostly) a movie blog, that this whole conversation and post were initiated by a film figure in Robin Williams, and that I just plain love films in general, let’s draw one last connection to a film that raises an eerily similar point. The 2012 film Silver Linings Playbook (a fantastic film in general by the way) did an all-around terrific job at illustrating the tumultuous personal and interpersonal lives of those affected by mental and emotional disorders. This isn’t a story about mild depression or strained personal connections either, this is a no-holds-barred film about extreme feelings, actions, and consequences. There is violence, assaults, screaming, crying, and months in a mental hospital.

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Always and forever.

It comes as no surprise that many of the filmmaker’s involved have close personal experiences with many of the issues that their characters in the narrative are dealing with. Writer-director David O. Russell was originally inspired to make the film after his experiences with his own son who suffers from bipolar disorder and OCD. Similarly, supporting actor Robert de Niro also became drawn to the project through his relationship with his son who also has bipolar.

The film paints a vivid, painfully honest portrait of how mental illness can shake up lives and ruin relationships, but also showcases the redemptive capabilities of familial, friendship, and romantic love and how mutual understanding fosters personal growth. The film humorously points out that most “normal” people deride and look down upon the officially medically labeled emotional headcases, all the while sporting plenty of destructive, nonsensical personal tendencies and behaviors of their own. More to the point though, Bradley Cooper’s main character asks the intriguing question whether emotionally wounded folks are in fact weaker or perhaps actually have a deeper understanding of the human condition itself, and more specifically an appreciation for the hardships that life can bring.

Specifically, he asks: “People like Tiffany, or Danny, or me, maybe we know something that you guys don’t know, okay? Did you ever think about that? Maybe we understand something…

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Final Thoughts

In light of this, we as a society should change how we view, label, interact with, and most of all, judge those around us. People who are suffering and acting out always do so for a reason. (Do you really think Shia LeBeof is mouthing off in public and getting himself arrested simply because he’s a rich, spoiled prick? Seriously?)

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Actually, you probably do. And so do most people, even those who aren’t clinically “depressed.”

People can suffer mental and emotional anguish regardless of their material wealth, standard of living, race, gender, nationality, or personality. Robin Williams was a masterclass comedian and a great actor, he had millions of fans and has starred in some of the most beloved films of all time, and he found life to be too unbearable to live any further. Kurt Cobain was (and still is) a rock ‘n roll legend, leader of one of the greatest rock bands of all time, he probably had droves of women lining up to be his groupies at any time, and he ended up pulling a shotgun trigger with the barrel in his mouth. If depression and suicidal acts can strike our most creative, talented, and most popular citizens, it can strike anywhere. No one is weaker for suffering from these debilitating conditions, nor are they lesser for having the courage and self-awareness to seek help. If anything, people are more compassionate, more socially intelligent, and far more empathetic for experiencing these extreme emotions, and those who suffer as such often do so because they dare to think more, do more, and challenge social expectations and rules more than most.

If strong fire is needed to build strong steel, than there are few life tests hotter than turmoil and conflict with one’s own self and psyche. While I am heavily saddened by Robin Williams’ fall to his own personal demons, I will never blame or think less of him for taking the HARDEST way out possible, suffering till the very end until he could stand it no more. Maybe if things had turned out a little different, I would have met the same fate. Who am I, or are any of us, to judge without understanding his plights and walking a mile his shoes? The next time you see someone acting out, who seems “depressed” or disgruntled, or is even contemplating suicide, don’t look down upon them or even worse, ignore them. Reach out to them and let them know that you care, that they matter, and that there are so, so many of us out there who have felt the same way or do feel the same way right now this very moment.

You may change that person’s life, save it possibly, and affect them in ways you can never fathom. Perhaps they will go on to do great things, however big or small. Maybe you could encourage them to even start a blog, perhaps beginning with a few angry pages on pop culture, patriotism, and in general getting those five pounds of shit out of that four-pound bag — something that might entertain a few people with his rants and ravings that are also a healthy way of expressing one’s anger and frustration 😀

Who knows? You might even save the next Robin Williams…

…or the next one of these, who have also suffered from mental illnesses and emotional disorders: Abraham Lincoln, Virginia Woolf, Ludwig van Beethoven, Vincent Van Goh, Isaac Newton, Ernest Hemingway, Michelangelo, Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, John Nash, Mark Twain, Marlon Brando, Ray Charles, Edgar Allen Poe, Drew Carey, Trent Reznor, Elton John, Buzz Aldrin, Roseanne Barr, Terry Bradshaw, Jim Carrey, Kurt Cobain, Heath Ledger, J.K. Rowling, Winona Ryder, Leo Tolstoy, Lionel Aldridge, Metta World Peace (Ron Artest), Herschel Walker, Mike Tyson, Ricky Williams, Brandon Marshall, Tennessee Williams, and Charles Darwin.

Robin-Williams

RIP Robin 🙂

— TRB

Discussion

5 thoughts on “On Robin William’s Tragic Passing and the Nature of Human Depression, Desperation, and Redemption

  1. Amazingly well-put. Very clinical view–but so personal (if that makes sense). It’s hard to share what people perceive as a weakness in such a revealing way, and I truly applaud you for that.

    Posted by Lori | August 12, 2014, 11:42 pm
    • Thanks a lot, Lori 😀 I’m really glad that you and so many others think the same way. Most of the stuff I write on this blog is first and foremost for me, but I think that this was more for everybody else out there who went through the same stuff I did. We’re all in this together. Cheers 🙂

      Posted by The Celtic Predator | August 17, 2014, 8:51 pm
  2. I think this was brilliant; well-written and insightful. I have to admit that I spent most of my 50+ years thinking that depressed people should just suck it up and look at the bright side of life, etc. I now have first-hand experience with depression and know how simplistic and insulting this approach is. As a society, we are very prejudiced against those with mental illness. The mentally ill are bad people, weak people, odd people, ‘crazy people’. We (the mentally ill) are sometimes described as “the face of evil”. I agree completely that those of us who have been lucky enough to have recovered from mental illness need to push for better understanding and better treatment options for those still suffering. Thanks for the essay.

    Posted by Robert O. Lincoln | August 27, 2014, 11:06 am
    • Thanks so much for reading and for the comments 🙂 I wrote this a lot for myself as a sort of retrospective look back on the past four years of my life as well as how Williams’ death hit really close to home, but more importantly as a means to spread awareness for those still suffering. People fear and ridicule what they don’t understand — it’s the sad fact of life, I’m afraid — but the more we can spread knowledge and understanding, the more that fear and ignorant criticism can be replaced with empathy and compassion. People who have experienced mental illnesses or emotional disorders may indeed do some of the strangest and most off-putting things, I’ll agree, but a lot of that stems from an ability to feel more than the average person, for whatever reason.

      I wouldn’t trade my years of darkness for anything, because I met some great people along the way and those people and those dark years made me who I am today. I think that goes the same for most people 🙂

      Posted by The Celtic Predator | August 31, 2014, 1:45 pm

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