Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams: A Tribute

In full disclosure, I am not the type of person who gets overly invested in celebrities or even follows their careers. Normally, the death of a celebrity is part of my newsfeed and not much more. However, when I learned about the passing of Robin Williams, I can honestly tell you that I wanted to cry, right there on the train. Something about the passing of this man who, by all accounts, seemed so gentle and loving really bothered me.

Of course, I had grown up watching his movies and his stand up. Robin Williams made me laugh, cry, and taught me my first dirty joke. He was a hilarious and filthy man and it didn't matter how long he hadn't made a movie or been in the public eye, I was always excited to see him on the screen. It didn't matter if he was in drag as an old lady or a giant blue genie, as soon as you heard the voice, you knew it was him and you knew you were about to be entertained. I can't tell you the countless times I've watched Mrs. Doubtfire or how often I've wished that I owned Jumanji. I used to tell everyone that Robin Williams was my favorite actor when I was little and hardly knew what having a favorite actor even meant. Though all of those reasons would be good enough to feel a sadness at this great actor's passing, they were not why his death seemed to tragic to me.

After pouring over article over article and tribute over tribute, I realized that it wasn't that he died that upset me, it was that he took his own life that really brought it home. Depression is a ferocious and ruthless beast. For someone who has never battled depression, I can understand how difficult it would be to make sense of why anyone, let alone someone so adored like Robin Williams, would feel so desperate as to take their own life. Now, I don't talk about my personal life too much on here, but without sharing too much, I understand. It was the fear, the extremely loneliness, and the devastating pain that Williams must have felt right before making the decision that hit me straight in the chest like a bowling ball when I read the news. Those feelings I understand and that is what pains me the most about this loss. It seems like the entire world has nothing but amazing things to say about this man who could even befriend gorillas and even he could not escape the paralyzing grip that depression can have.

If anything good comes from this, I do hope it's a conversation about the seriousness of depression and that, for many people, it's not just something that you "grow out" of or that you can cure by reassuring the person that they are loved. I promise you, your reassurances are, unfortunately, never stronger than the demons that depression brings. When people refer to "battling depression", it is just that - a constant battle with yourself - and, unfortunately, you can't escape yourself. If you have never experienced it, you really can't judge it. So, to a great man, who saw no other escape, I say thank you for the years of laughter. You are hugely missed.

I just hope that if there is an afterlife, they have a fantastic wifi signal so that Robin Williams can enjoy the outpouring of love that has come out from this.

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