Why Robin Williams’ Death is So Personal For All Of Us

With the news of Robins Williams’ suicide, why are so many of us taking it personally?

I always said that Julie Andrews would be the only celebrity I will weep for when she passes.

Tonight I learned it is not so much that a celebrity dies, it’s how.

Robin Williams was found dead of apparent suicide Monday, August 11, 2014, following multiple reports over the past few months of another battle with depression and addiction. Just last monthhe checked himself into a rehab facility in Minnesota for some maintenance work on his successful 20+ years of sobriety. Having dealt with depression for more than half of my life, I understand the importance of getting help before things become too hard to manage. I respect his decision to get help, and have always been thankful to have him as a spokesperson for depression, addiction, and mental illness.

Photo credit:WeHeartIt

But here’s the thing about his death that is hurting so many people right now: when someone who publicly advocates for a disease that you’re intimately familiar with decides the pain is too much to bear – even with every resource available to him – what hope is there for the rest of us who battle this disease on a daily basis? I don’t have money to “fine-tune” my addictive personality, hell, I don’t even have reliablehealth insurance.

More from YourTango:5 Ways You Can Help Yourself Deal With Depression

I’ve been very open about my recent struggles with depression. I know I’m not alone in this fight and I know Robin Williams wasn’t either. I was just watchingThe Crazy Ones last night, grateful for the funny people in this world who make us laugh no matter the terrible pain we may personally feel. How could someone who made so many of us laugh throughout our lives see himself as useless to this world? It’s a rhetorical question, because while I know I’m important in the lives of my children, myfamily, and my friends, I still know exactly what it feels like to not want to exist anymore.

More from YourTango:4 Simple Solutions for Dealing with Depression

If you were a Robin Williams fan and still don’t believe depression is a disease that tricks its victims into believing terrible and crippling lies, let this be a wake-up call.

photo credit: loungemovies

I’m only 32. I have an entire lifetime ahead of me that willnever be free of mental illness. Most recently, I’ve been able to push that nagging thought aside relying on the “one day at a time” philosophy every morning when I get out of bed. It’s crippling to realize that depression could hurt even more than it has these past few months. The idea that no singular medication or treatment is a guarantee. The idea that this is a lifelong fight with something that cannot be seen on an X-ray or cut out with a laser.

More from YourTango:20 Tips to Increase Your Happiness

A tweet fromNY Times film critic Bilge Ebiri read, “You start off as a kid seeing Robin Williams as a funny man. You come of age realizing many of his roles are about keeping darkness at bay.” Creativity often comes from a very dark place, but it’s a spectacular way to hide the pain one might be feeling.It’s been documented that painters, playwrights, actors and comedians are all a bit ‘mad’ and that that madness allowed them to think in more unique and creative ways and that making people laugh may also very well be a method for self-medication.

Being human is complicated enough without the tangle and mess of mental illness in all its forms, and as someone who has fought the fight somewhat valiantly so far, I will continue to do the work, to tell my story, to bring awareness to those who do not otherwise understand the pain and fear associated with depression and suicide.

I will keep fighting as long as my body and mind let me.

I will continue to take care of myself and ask for help when I need it.

I hope we can all do the same.

And being a fool, he was simple minded, he didn’t see a king. He only saw a man alone and in pain.” -Robin Williams,The Fisher King

By, from YourTango


More from YourTango
Bangarang, Peter! Robin Williams’ 10 Most Powerful Performances
5 Must-Read Tips for Being Happy With Yourself


Tonya Freeman
Tonya Freeman3 years ago

There was a time when I was in a state of depression. I thought about suicide. How would I do it? I didn't want to jump out of the window because I was not that high up and didn't want to live though broken bones, etc. I considered turning on the gas, then I though someone would surely smell it in this small building and besides I had heard that gas changes your skin color. Didn't like that part either.

Then I thought about taking pills and remembered I didn't have any to begin with and definitely didn't want my stomach pumped...so I decided to think myself to death. Thank goodness and yes, thank God, I can chuckle at the memory of it all.

Needless to say, a number of years later, it was told to me that I may have shaved a few years off my life by this thinking and that Native Americans go off to sacred ground to chant until death; I raised my eyebrows.

I knew exactly what was making me depressed and I did something about it. I got to the core of the matter with some assistance and that depression vanished. I give thanks for those Earth Angels.

Since then, there have been things that could have depressed me, heck, just listen to or read the news. That alone can make one depressed...forever. lol

What do I do? I go right to that space within that says, "Be still and know that I AM God." I bask in the grace of that and I know, all is well.

Thank you for sharing your story and I give thanks for your healing and wholeness.

Theresa Robinson
Theresa Robinson3 years ago


Julia W.
Julia W3 years ago

Thank you for your honesty and your insight.

Irene Harvey
Irene Harvey3 years ago

i think a lot of good will come from this renewed look at depression. i struggled with it for decades (& still do), while hiding it from most people because i thought it was my own fault. it seemed to me that if i were only somehow a stronger & better person i wouldn't be feeling so terrible. crazy, but then depression is not logical.
depressed people feel so alone. robin williams' death was profoundly sad but may have given all of us a great gift.

barb p.
Past Member 3 years ago

"The term clinical depression finds its way into too many conversations these days. One has a sense that a catastrophe has occurred in the psychic landscape."

Leonard Cohen

Manuela C.
Manuela C3 years ago

*like that

Manuela C.
Manuela C3 years ago

It's sad to see someone give up on life lile that.

Robert O.
Robert O3 years ago

He was an incredible individual that so many lives and will be missed.

Lisa Winstead
Lisa Winstead3 years ago

Thank you so much for this article & sharing your deepest pain with us. This has hit home for so many of us this week.

Debbie C. Thanks for sharing your grief with us too. I also have cried every day over the loss of this WONDERFUL man! I was starting to feel a little silly about it, thinking I was probably the only person that didn't know him personally that was crying over him. I'm glad to know I'm not alone in this! He was an awesome person I am so very sad to know he is gone. The world is definitely not going to be any better without him in it!

Those of you that want to criticize the author for sharing their story & relating it to Robin Williams, simply because Robin Williams was a celebrity, you obviously did not read the article! It was about THEIR daily struggle to overcome the same thing that plagued Mr. Williams. I for one am glad they wrote it and I'm glad people are talking about. Maybe it will save some lives! Maybe just writing it, getting it out in print saved the author's life because it helped them cope with their depression! Maybe the kind words from those who have commented have pulled them out of someplace very dark. Ever think of that? Words are VERY powerful! The right word at the right time can make all the difference in a person's life but the wrong word at the wrong time can send an already fragile person spiraling out of control! We should all be a little kinder in our words to others, the world would be a better place.

Rasma Raisters
Rasma Raisters3 years ago

The only thing that made me smile about Robin Williams' death was that now he was a free spirit and I imagined him making God laugh in his own special way. His ordeal also made me think over things carefully. My hubby and I are having lots of financial struggles like so many now and life has become tough. However the Lord is on our side and we have no health complaints and that is already half the battle. My faith gives me the confidence that we will find that cloud with a silver lining. I am very sad about Robin's passing and what he went through and I will always fondly remember him as someone who could always get a laugh out of me. Nanu, Nanu Robin my love goes with you RIP