The sudden and tragic death of Robin Williams has devastated many of us. This is the first time that the death of a celebrity has truly upset me. Many of Robin’s movies made me laugh, some made me cry. He seemed like a truly genuine, compassionate and kind human being. He had a wonderful sense of humor.
Even though it looked as if he had it all- fame, fortune, family, friends, fans – he was still hurting on the inside. Robin Williams suffered from depression and addiction. Both of which are merciless, cruel and real diseases.
He lost his battle to depression and completed suicide. It is heartbreaking, and many people are asking, “How could he do such a thing? He had such a wonderful life!” Well, let me tell those people something:
Depression doesn’t give a shit about who you are or where you come from. Neither does addiction. They are both a chemical imbalance triggered by a combination of genetics and environment. They are a disease of the brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 1 in 10 adults report suffering from depression. According to the National Institute of Health, addiction affects 23.2 million Americans.
I’ve had depression since I was 13. I’ve been to a variety of therapists and on a variety of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers. Today, I am in recovery. I spent a majority of my teen years in isolation, I made plans to complete suicide because the pain was too much. The pain of seeing my parents struggle with their own addictions and fight on a regular basis was getting to be too much. The physical, emotional and verbal abuse I endured from my ill father tore me down. I had low self esteem, I believed I was worthless and nobody could love me; I saw the world through a very dark and foggy view. I skipped school, slept almost all the time, lost myself in crappy reality TV shows or browsed the internet, trying to find a way to escape myself and my life.
One thing about depression is that not only does it cause mental anguish, it also causes physical anguish. Depression can cause headaches, stomachaches, joint pain, etc. It negatively affects sleep patterns and interferes with one’s day-to-day life. It sucks the joy out of life and replaces it with despair.
I was fortunate to have received as much help as I did when I lived with another family for awhile because my mother was struggling with alcoholism and my father struggled with addiction. My brothers and I went through some traumatic events.
I think Williams’ death upset me so much because my biological father completed suicide in the same way. Even though we had a dysfunctional, horrible relationship, it was still devastating. He also struggled with addiction and mental illness. His father, my grandfather, also completed suicide. He did it in the same way, too. Thankfully, my mother is sober and in recovery today. Williams’ battle was a battle that is all too familiar to so many people. It is familiar to me and my own family. I am so proud of my mother for finding recovery. I am proud of myself finding recovery. I am proud of anyone who finds recovery from mental illness and/or addiction.
It seems as if those who bring the most joy to people are the ones who suffer the most. They tend know what real pain is. As has been mentioned, many comedians, artists, those with a creative streak tend to struggle with mental illness and addiction. As one of those creative people who has suffered from a mental illness, I can attest to that claim as being true. At least it is for me and many other creative types.
I want to stress that depression, addiction and other mental illnesses are REAL illnesses. A mental illness is not a phase, a plea for attention or a pity party. Depression is a disease, addiction is a disease. There is help and treatment available for anyone suffering.
The stigma on mental illness and addiction have got to end. There is no shame in asking for help. Ever.
Also, if you or anyone you know is talking about ending their life or knows someone who is, please call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The hotline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Also, I am here for anyone who needs to talk. Do not hesitate to contact me. I will not judge you and I will do anything I can to get you help.
My heart goes out to the family of Robin Williams and to the families of anyone who has lost a loved one to mental illness and/or addiction.
If you are suffering, remember this: You are NOT alone. Help is available, and you ARE worthy of love and happiness.