On August 11, 2014 a titan of the Humanities world passed away. Though I did not know Robin Williams personally I feel a deep ache in my heart. Growing up I flew with him in Neverland, cheered him on in “Mrs. Doubtfire” and laughed at his zany antics as the blue genie that we all know and love.
As I grew so too did he with me. I remember being in middle school and screening “Patch Adams,” watching with awe as he dealt with the most heart wrenching cases, and wishing that all doctors could be like him. His girlfriend’s death is both shocking and surreal. How could someone who has so much good in him, and who spreads it around like lottery money, be faced with such a loss and continue on with his unending cheer? At the time it was unfair. I hated the producers of the movie for making it so, but I think it made a valid point. Life can be both wonderful and heart breaking. However, it is up to each of us to find the best of us and to share it as much as we can.
Both on screen and off screen Williams illustrated to us the importance of giving back to the community. According to Maria Elena Fernandez of NBC News, Williams was one of a trio of performers, along with Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg, that helped to raise money for the homeless in the “Comic Relief” shows. Many people benefited from his kindness and generosity. If we wish to pass around the same we must start caring about others. Even if it is something small such as visiting with a recluse neighbor, or taking the time to talk to the odd student/worker we should strive to make someone’s day a bit better. It is only by establishing these relationships that we can make our community and the world better. As the Dalai Lama said, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
Perhaps the help came too late for Williams who had battled drug and alcohol addiction throughout his life. According to Alice Park of “Time” Magazine William’s representative said that he had been battling depression.
Depression is a very serious issue. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) found that in 2012, 8.9 % of 18-25 year-olds had at least one major depressive episode in the last year. In that same year 7.6% of 26-49 year-olds and 5.5 % of 50 plus persons had experienced the same. What constitutes depression? NIMH states that symptoms include fatigue and decreased energy, thoughts of suicide and/or suicide attempts and feelings of guilt or helplessness.
Major depression, according to NIMH, can include “severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat and enjoy life.” NIMH also points out that major depression affects people in different ways and can manifest itself in one episode or many episodes. Like a gray ghost it can hit anyone at any time. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, or something close to them, please get them help. Make your loved one aware that they matter.
As one of my heroes Williams lifted me up, helped me to escape and gave me hope for the future. He was a light that burned brightly, passionately and left us all too early. Thus my tribute to him.
“Rest faithfully O Captain my dear,
Your tour has ended, and we are all here.
Put down your tools and struggles of strife,
The night is over, now go into the light.”
-The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or
-The National Institute of Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/
-National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): https://www.nami.org/
Photo courtesy of www.pt.wikipedia.org