Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Taking Just A Moment (A Post About Robin Williams' Suidcide)

It's probably all over your social media and maybe you're even a little sick of it by now but I'm not. I'm heartbroken on so many levels. The death of Robin Williams was such a shock and I was left stunned when I got that CNN alert that he had died. Now, I know that his death has nothing to do with schizophrenia but what it does have to do with is severe clinical depression, something many of us suffer from. His death has brought the conversation about depression to the forefront where it should have been all along. This amazing, funny, loving man brought so much light with his almost manic performances and appearances but as in all things in life, the yin and yang was at work here. His light shone so brightly when he was performing for us but his darkness waited for him when the applause had stopped and he was back home. It is utterly tragic that his death had to happen but if one thing can come of it for those of us in the mental health community, it is that we are now talking about depression and the toll it takes on a person living with it, not to mention the family members affected by it too. It is almost irresponsible for someone like me, who writes about schizophrenia, to not write about this. I have an audience and all of you have audiences of your own and together we have to talk about the effect depression has on so many people.

I think about this beautiful man and his wife and his 3 children he left behind and I read his daughter's tweet in remembrance of her dad and I think about how this wonderful man was just 63 years old. I then think of my own dad who suffered from depression also and while he died of a heart attack and complications from dementia, he suffered much of his life with depression. He fought those demons valiantly throughout his life and many times didn't find success and would sink into an even darker place. Robin Williams was 63 and died of an apparent suicide and my dad was just 71 and died too young. These two men's death are different but they are the same to me as they are both tragic and the leave behind grieving families.

I sat this morning and watched the "Today Show's" tribute to Robin Williams and I cried tears of grief for the loss of him, for his wife and his children and I cried for my own loss of my dad. Death is inevitable but when it is brought to us suddenly and unfairly it is that much harder to bear.

I indulge myself in comparing the two men, my dad and Robin Williams only because my heart is broken today because we lost a great comedian, a bright shining light, and a gift to this world and just recently I lost my dad. The real story today, and it is not lost on me despite my indulgence in comparing the two, it that Robin Williams is dead. I guess after all of what I have written here today, my one hope is that his death opens up a conversation with people today. Perhaps it will be just from one friend to another where one tells the other, finally, how hard they have struggled. Or perhaps the conversation will open up inside a family where the dad admits that he's hanging on by a thread and he can't last much longer and he begs for his wife's help. Or maybe even it'll open up an even bigger conversation to a larger audience in a forum somewhere where perhaps in the crowd there are people with depression who will find the strength to get some help finally.

Robin Williams, you will be missed beyond all measure and I for one will spend today watching a couple of my favorite movie's you were in (Dead Poet's Society and Good Will Hunting). In your death though, you have brought a gift to others. We will talk about depression and we will save others today. Your life is not in vain, not by a long shot. You made us laugh but even as the stage fades to black for you, your light will shine on us all forever.

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