Yesterday marked the year anniversary of Robin William’s passing.
When somebody in the public eye who is admired and loved by many passes, it’s always a desperately sad time, even more so when said person was known to be just as much a character in real life as their celebrity personas.
This was Robin Williams. I know this to be true because my Aunt shared a story not long after his passing, stating that as a youngster, a friend and herself had crossed paths with the late actor when she was still living in the USA. He was apparently very kind to them and even referred to them as his friends when his security was being over precautious.
Stories like this seemed to swamp the Internet when it was announced the actor has died at his Californian home in August 2014.
One of the sweetest stories referred to the friendship between Williams and fellow actor Christopher Reeve, who was involved in a horse riding accident in 1995. The story was about how, during Reeve’s recovery in hospital, Williams had paid him a visit dressed as an eccentric doctor with a strong Russian accent who stated he must perform a rectal examination of the actor. This was the first time since the accident that Reeve’s had laughed and realised, thanks to Williams, things were going to be okay.
Robin Williams really was the sweetest, most caring man in Hollywood. I get really emotional when I remember that such a talented and wonderful man was suffering through some of the darkest days of his life.
It was no secret that throughout William’s life he battled with addiction. This in turn had brought him to hard times and affected his mental health. Yet he had been able to beat it and had gone on to commit himself to 20 years of sobriety. But like most addictions, there is always the possibility of a person relapsing back into their old ways.
Reports stated that Williams had spent some time in a Treatment Centre before his death in order to focus on his commitment to staying sober. He was extremely proud of this, as anyone with an addiction will know how hard it is to become independent from his or her addiction.
It was stated not long after the announcement of Robin’s death that his suicide was as a result of a recent battle with severe depression, with information added at a later date that the actor has also been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
It was very obviously the last straw for Williams. He could not take it any longer.
The thing about Robin William’s death is that he didn’t die from suicide. Yes, suicide was the direct cause on paper but what the actor really died from was an illness. Just like a terminal illness, severe depression can result in a person’s passing. Except, we as a society don’t seem to see it in the same way.
Depression isn’t a physical thing. You can’t see depression in the face of an individual the way you might see a person’s broken leg or chronic back pain.
Their pain is mental. It takes them to places that are so dark and full of despair that they can’t drag themselves out of it. It’s like falling down a muddy decline and haven’t no grip on the sides. You can’t pull yourself up and sometimes; other people can’t reach down to grab you either.
These people have often been fighting for a long time. There is no energy left in them to claw at the sides of that muddy pit anymore. They could see a little glimpse of sunshine at the top to start with, but they’ve sunk too deep and they don’t know how to wade through it.
People like Williams are so strong. Suicide is not cowardly. It’s not a sign of weakness. Suicide is often the last resort for so many who suffer from mental illness. People who haven’t experienced mental illness may not understand how dark Robin Williams mind was, how desperate he must have been to keep fighting but how tired and lost he eventually became. He felt he couldn’t carry on living his life the way it has been moulded for him by depression.
There is a lot we, as a society, should learn from Robin William’s life and passing. Although his death will never define his unimaginable colourful and beautiful life, it should open our eyes as human beings to why we need to change our perception of mental illness.
It should allow us to understand why judgement is not needed.
People with depression are in their own personal hell. Judgement is only emphasising the untrue perception they have of themselves. Those who suffer from depression need support and other people’s understanding. They need to know there are others routing for their recovery. They are NOT weak. They are lost and need those around them to shine a light back to the path they’ve lost sight off.
Williams passing should teach us that behind every smile, is a life we do not know of.
People who appear happy are usually the people most likely to be suffering from depression. They smile because our society has taught them to mask their true feelings. People like Williams gave so much happiness and light to other people lives but were unable to give it to themselves. Society needs to recognise that everybody is susceptible to depression. A smile does not necessarily reflect happiness in one’s life.
Celebrities are not exempt from mental illness either.
Many talented and successful people battle with depression and anxiety. I’ve seen a lot of judgemental comments about this subject. You don’t decide to have a mental illness. Depression doesn’t choose a person depending on their salary or lifestyle. Anyone can suffer from a mental illness at any point in his or her lives. Remember this.
It’s so sad we had to lose one of the biggest stars in Hollywood to understand how devastating mental illness can be on an individual. Let’s hope it helps to change people’s perception.