Robin Williams and Mental Illness

I was going to write a fun and upbeat blogpost today about the food I had in Barcelona, but then I found out about Robin Williams’ death this morning, and that hit me quite hard. It’s not like I was a massive fan of his work or anything. I think he was an amazing actor and comedian, and really one of a kind, but that’s not why I’m so sad right now. At first I couldn’t really figure it out, but then I talked to my mother and we talked about how he suffered from depression and bipolar disorder. Just like a lot of people in my family. My mother then said: “People like that somehow always feel a bit like family.”

And that was exactly it. It hit close to home.

Not only did the death of this amazingly talented and heartwarming person shock me enormously, it also brought to the surface my own confrontations with depression, both direct and indirect. I’ve been afraid of having bipolar disorder since I was a young teenager and first learned about it and the effect this illness has had on my family. It hasn’t stopped me from living my life in any way, but every once in a while I have these days when I feel this surge of fear in my stomach. “What if I have it too?” Today is such a day. It frightens me to think about it, so I usually don’t, but I couldn’t ignore it today. I know firsthand what this illness (and mental illness in general) can do to people, and it makes me so sad to think we’ve lost another great person to it yesterday.

I’ve been crying on and off during the day, and at first that felt silly, since I didn’t know Mr Williams myself, but I realised it’s about much more than that. I cried for my family, I cried for all the people I know that are or have been battling with mental illness (and sadly I know a lot of them), and I cried for the many people out there who feel like they’re alone. There is still this huge stigma, and we desperately need to get rid of it.

You’re not alone. No one is. There was a time I felt like I was all alone, but I now know I’m not. There are so many people out there who are suffering from depression, but are too scared or embarrassed to put that lable on it, thinking people will judge them or won’t understand. It’s not about other people, though. Fuck them. It’s about you, and about you getting better. I realised this after a while, and made the decision to tell my parents I thought I might be sick and I felt I needed to talk to a psychologist. So I did. I told my parents — they were proud of me. Then I visited a psychologist, and it helped me. I feel more confident and better about myself than ever before. Yes, I still have my bad days, but so does everyone else.

This got a lot more personal than I thought it was going to be, but that’s okay. I’m not ashamed of my sadness or fears or anything else. Neither should anyone else be. Please get help if you think you need it. It helps. Honestly.

RIP Robin Williams.

robin-williams

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15 thoughts on “Robin Williams and Mental Illness

  1. A fantastic post. It’s been a hard day, knowing that a man so talented, loved and lucky could feel so alone. The black dog doesn’t discriminate. I suffered from PND after the birth of the twins (my mother and father had both died in the 18 months previous) and I know how precarious the health of the mind can be. I also know what it is like to assume that people would be better off without you. My heart goes out to that poor, poor man and his family left behind.

  2. Just read your post. We ALL can benefit from help now and then (if not consistently). Depression and anxiety are in my family too, and I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who ever sought help for it.

    • Exactly! It’s so sad that some people feel like they can’t reach out for help… I’m lucky to have very supportive friends and family, but it was still a pretty big step to take to seek professional help.

      • It IS a big step, isn’t it? It takes some bravery. And once you start you think now why didn’t I just do this earlier! 😊 It’s a great comfort to have a safe and helpful advisor in your life, especially one who has the right training.

          • I also think many people (including myself) don’t even recognize they have depression. Quick to anger, feeling overwhelmed with work or studies, ruminating worry are all signs and things you don’t need to live with. They are not simply personality traits/things you cannot overcome. With help, they CAN be eased and managed. Thanks for bringing up an important topic! Cheers!

  3. Whaw, you hit me with this post. I strongly agree about being open (and honest) even though we want to avoid talking about it constantly. 🙂
    Take care of yourself!

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  6. People who shine the brightest are usually the ones with depression — it’s funny how well they are able to hide it. I think it was Robin as well who said something along the lines of always wanting to make people laugh, because he knows what it’s like to feel like crap and he didn’t want anyone to feel like that.

    You’re amazing for talking about mental illness like this, and I wish you the very best of luck. My inbox is always open if you need to talk. ♥

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