Usually when I hear about a celebrity’s passing, I just hear of a celebrity’s passing. If it was something stupid, like an overdose or drinking and driving, my “miserere nobis” might be accompanied by a slight eye-roll. Today though, I truly am deeply saddened, and find myself mourning the death by suicide of Robin Williams.
Williams brought some of my favorite characters to life on the screen in the forms of the Genie, Mrs. Doubtfire, Teddy Roosevelt, Alan Parrish, Peter, and of course, Mork. I can quote most of his “golf” standup routine as it’s one of my top three favorites. More than his acting talents, I admired how he did not let his battles with bipolar disorder and depression stand in the way of his life’s work.
He fought silently, and it was not enough. Yesterday he gave into those demons and lost the battle to mental illness.
My deepest fear is that people will look at this great and talented man and forget about his Oscars, how he made them laugh, how he could spin a joke out of anything, and they will only remember that he committed suicide and therefore he was weak. That he couldn’t hack it. That there was something inherently wrong with him.
When someone has a disease of anything below the neck and he dies, we will grieve and say that he struggled, fought the good fight, but succumbed to his illness anyway. There was nothing modern medicine could do for him. Why should that be any different for someone struggling with bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, PTSD, etc.? Why must there be such a “can’t touch dis” associated with disorders of the brain only because we can’t take an X-Ray or an MRI of them? They are just as real as that tumor, or that plaque build up. Only harder to treat.
But oh, to be free. Not to have to go “Poof! What do you need, “Poof! What do you need, Poof! What do you need?”. To be my own master. Such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasures in all the world. But what am I talking about? Let’s get real here, that’s never gonna happen. Genie, wake up and smell the hummus.
Genie, we wish it could have gotten better for you here. We wish we could have helped. We’ll miss you terribly.