When I was a kid I remember seeing the manic and hilarious Robin Williams play a clueless but sweet alien, Mork from Ork. I quickly adopted the rainbow suspenders and began a life-long affinity for anything Robin Williams created or starred in. I remember seeing the Live at the Met and Comic Relief specials and laughing until tears streamed down my face. Today my tears were different. Robin Wiliams, comic genius, versatile and acclaimed actor died of an apparent suicide.
Williams struggled with drugs and alcohol during his brilliant career and got clean and sober decades ago. But, I can imagine, the demons he was self-medicating were still there. I can relate. As someone who has struggled with depression my entire life, I am all too familiar with the oppressive darkness of mental illness. It still freaks me out to talk about “mental illness”. But that’s what it is. My brain chemistry is off (and has been ever since I can remember), and I must take daily medication to keep from slipping into the rabbit hole. I can now say those words without as much fear and shame, although the stigma remains and I fight it within myself.
I’ve contemplated suicide. Actually more times that I care to talk about and from a young age. My last serious contemplation was a mere seven years ago. I had an entire bottle of Xanex in my hand, water ready to go. But I couldn’t stand the thought of my kids living with pain I’d caused. I was in the rabbit hole and burrowing deeper but I stopped. I knew I needed help and I got it.
But some people aren’t so lucky. Some people can’t stop the dark thoughts. They go deeper into the rabbit hole and disappear. Robin Wiliams is one of those tragically tormented souls who didn’t make it out. So I cried for his family. For his friends and for all those his crazy antics entertained.
My hope is that through this, people will be helped. Those who are contemplating taking their lives will reach out to someone else who will be reaching back because they have learned more about depression and care enough to stop, listen and encourage.
My dear, sweet Robin, I will miss you and I bid you, Nanu Nanu.