I was on holiday when it happened. I awoke in the morning, and immediately rolled over to grab my phone so I could check the time. I don’t even remember what time it was. I had a message from my sister. All it said was –
“Robin Williams is dead. Apparent suicide :-(”
Without thinking, I turned and woke up my boyfriend to tell him. I was devastated. I couldn’t understand how this could be true. There must have been some mistake. I went straight to my Huffington Post app, and sure enough there were headlines about it all over the place. There was already a stream of tweets from various actors and actresses sending their condolences to his family. My mind raced. I thought about his poor family; millions of destroyed fans; and oddly enough, Sarah Michelle Gellar. I had read that she thought of him the father figure she never had, and that she loved him dearly.
Never in my life have I been so affected by the death of a “celebrity”. I use the term very loosely. I hate the word. To me, a celebrity is one of those fake famous people… the kind that you see on reality TV shows, who have never actually done anything but make idiots of themselves in front of a camera, or lived off their famous parents. You know the type. I personally think the likes of Robin Williams are something above that. Okay, not all of them are perfect. Most of them have had public meltdowns, been in and out of the newspapers, been involved in shocking scandals or in and out of rehab, but give them a break – they might have the world in their hands, but it’s hard for them to just be who they want to be. To be themselves, to be private. I’m not surprised they go through what they do.
Since I was born, there have been a lot of famous deaths. Heath Ledger; Brittany Murphey; Michael Jackson; Patrick Swayze; John Ritter; Chris Penn; John Hughes; Natasha Richardson; Whitney Houston; Ryan Dunn; Amy Whinehouse; Jonathan Brandis; Michael Clark Duncan; Nora Ephron; Cory Monteith; Denis Farina; Paul Walker and Phillip Seymour Hoffman to name a few. Some suicide, others illness, and the occasional one just old age have caused these deaths. Each of them have been awful. I was particularly shocked by Brittany Murphey, Paul Walker and Michael Clark Duncan. They were all very upsetting. Some of them were so young, and even though some of those youngsters were ending their own lives, that doesn’t make it any less upsetting than if they were ill or murdered.
Some of them were just saddening rather than shocking. Some of them were expected.
Something about the passing of Robin Williams really bothered me. I mean, really. I couldn’t get past it. I still can’t quite believe it. Is it crazy to be so devastated by the death of someone I didn’t know? It’s not even like I would ever claim to be his biggest ever fan or anything. Just a massive one amongst many.
At least I don’t think I’m the only one who has had this reaction. After some reading, and thinking I think I’ve just about pinpointed why.
So many of his movies touched our lives… not even just that, his TV work has been there too. Mostly he’s made us laugh, quite often he’s had us sitting there gasping “wow, what a performance” and every so often he’s even reduced us to crying like babies!
I think that being one of the funniest human beings alive, if not THE funniest, is one of the things that has made this so difficult. He dedicated his life to brightening up ours and at the end of the day, his pain was so strong and overpowering that he couldn’t stand it.
Add to it that throughout his life he’d suffered from various different addictions that he managed to overcome – even if he did occasionally fall off the wagon, he still managed to get back on – and had suffered from depression for a long time, finding different ways to cope with it, including exercise and regular cycling (see http://georgestuddfitnesstraining.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/how-sport-saved-my-life/ for some good reading on depression and exercise) but at the age of 63 with a loving family and millions of followers all over the world, he couldn’t take it anymore.
Normally I call suicide selfish, but this has opened my eyes in a different way. I still think that it can be selfish, particularly if that person hasn’t done everything they possibly can to save themselves. After some careful thought and consideration though, I have realized that despite the hurt and heartbreak that is left behind, sometimes people have already tried everything, and it’s too much. Like everything, you can’t just generalize it and say it’s the same. Each case is individual.
It’s unbelievably sad and tragic that this man is gone. He’ll live on through his family and work forever.
I’d like to finish quickly with a quote from a song. The song is “Silver Linings” by Kate Voegle. I think this one line captures what a lot of people with disorders such as depression and anxiety will be going through.
“Most Days I Try My Best To Put On a Brave Face, But Inside My Bones Are Cold and My Heart Breaks.”
Just remember though – it doesn’t matter if you can put on a brave face. It’s how you feel that matters. Its okay to let it all out; it’s good to talk to people – even if you don’t have anything specific to say and it’s just a stream of words that describe how you feel, it will help. If you don’t feel like you can seek professional help – but don’t be afraid to, they’re there for a reason – then find someone you know. It doesn’t have to be your best friend or your Mother. It can be anyone. It’s good to strike up hobbies that make you feel good, particularly something you can do outside. Go out and exercise, or do the gardening. Find a focus, a goal. Whether it be a career goal or life ambition, it’s up to you. Just do it. Most importantly remember – you probably feel really alone. BUT THERE IS SOMEONE OUT THERE THAT LOVES YOU, MAYBE MORE THAN THEY CAN HANDLE AND NO MATTER HOW LOW OR EMPTY YOU FEEL, HOLD ONTO THAT. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
RIP ROBIN WILLIAMS. 1951-2014