Let Robin Williams Help You Find Your Voice

I wasn’t going to post this. I wasn’t even going to write it. The first half explains that viewpoint. The second half is where it gets good.

779px-Robin_Williams_in_2008When I first heard of Robin Williams’ death I was bummed. That’s the best way I know to describe it. I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t emotional. I thought he was a great actor and, from what I had heard, a pretty amazing person so I was bummed. His movies were a huge part of my childhood and adult life and a death is always a bummer.

However, he, himself, was not a part of my life. I didn’t personally know the man. I didn’t ever have a conversation with him or see his face in person. To me he was a celebrity. A heroic celebrity, but a Hollywood celebrity nonetheless.

So I admit I got mad when I literally couldn’t find more than two posts on my Facebook feed that didn’t mention Robin Williams. I got mad when every single ‘trending’ phrase on twitter included his name, movies, or quotes.

It was difficult to explain why I was so mad. I thought about all of the people every single day who die, who no one tributes. I thought about peoples’ family members who die, and specifically how those people react. They might post an ‘RIP’ message and say they don’t really want to talk about it. So if all these people are so affected by this particular death, why can they so easily speak their minds? Have we gotten to the point in which celebrity deaths are more profound in our individual lives than the death of a loved one?

I viewed these people as selfish. In my mind, they were taking a horrific event to a family they don’t know and making it all about themselves.

They’ll be over it in a few days, after binge-watching every single Robin Williams movie (and posting constant real-time updates about what they’re watching and how they’re feeling). But right now they have to be one of the cool kids. Everyone else is sharing it, so they have to as well. Everyone else is devasted, so they’re traumatized. It’s about saying “Hey! Look at me! Even though you already saw it, I’m sharing this information. Even though you already know everyone’s upset, I’m really upset.”

That’s what I thought.

Obviously the news of Robin Williams’ death is covering the internet right now. It’s everywhere. So do you, after reading about it from at least 10 of your friends’ posts, have to share it, too? We know. We get it. Someone whose acting you love is no longer with us. Why is this such a big deal? Do you post, in detail, every happening that ever saddens you?

In all my time on social media, I have never seen something go so viral so fast.

And then I thought Damn, shouldn’t death be like, a personal, respected thing? If you died would you want the whole fucking internet sharing the story and talking about how frickin’ upset they are, even if they never met you? I understand he put himself in the public eye by being a celebrity — but so often we think their lives are fair game. They’re not. They deserve to have their own moments just like we do. Don’t you think death should maybe be one of those moments?

When I aired these thoughts Jack called me cold-hearted or something. So I just stopped thinking about it altogether.

But then my reader started going crazy. 1 New Post, 2 New Posts, 5 New Posts, 11 New Posts. My fellow bloggers were on a roll, especially for a Monday night.

At least half of them were about Robin Williams.

Since I like my blogger buddies more than real people I opened their posts and read them, trying to keep an open mind. But it didn’t work. I found a few I liked and shared them, because the message was deeper than death. I found a few that I thought were pointless which sent me on another rampage, complaining to Jack about how everyone is using this to promote themselves and What’s the point in even publishing something that says pretty much nothing other than “I’m so sad, RIP Robin Williams”?

Until I came across my new favorite blogger‘s post, Depression LIES. (I’m hoping she hasn’t taken it down, seeing as how it was 75% of the inspiration for this post.)

Steph, from We Don’t Chew Glass, approaches this topic from a view I haven’t seen from anyone else. She approaches it as herself, explaining her story, and how Robin Williams ties into it. She doesn’t make it all about him to get views. She doesn’t act like the end is coming because of his death. She expresses true sadness over his loss, for her own reasons. She’s not another ‘trend’.

I feel like a vandal even talking about Mr. Williams. His is not my pain to dissect. But. But. If he really suffered the way I suffer then we were comrades. Soldiers fighting the same battle.

After I read that I realized — I realized that she was using his assistance, not him, to find her own voice. And maybe, just maybe, that’s what so many of you were doing, too.

Maybe you were comrades in that he granted your wishes as a genie by taking you to a land far away from your troubles. Maybe you were comrades because you both wanted a parent as caring as Mrs. Doubtfire. Maybe you were comrades in your desire to invent. Maybe you were comrades in your love for laughter and kindness and snark.

If Robin Williams had any part in your life at all, maybe you were comrades. Or maybe his death has made you comrades, and that’s okay, too. Because it’s okay to let him help you find your voice. And I apologize for my small-minded previous thoughts.

I, like Steph, like The Bloggess, like Robin Williams, and like so many others, struggle with my mental health. I struggle with depression and addiction, among other things. Williams struggled with depression and addiction for many years, and his death has been ruled an apparent suicide.

I’m one of the lucky ones, I guess. I am not considered suicidal. I don’t think about it. I tried once in 5th grade because my boyfriend broke up with me, but I don’t think I really knew what killing myself meant at the time. I thought about it again when Jack and I were in a huge fight, shortly after Holden was born. But my mind snapped back. It told me that my son needed me. Depression doesn’t take over to the point where it tells me I’m so worthless I shouldn’t be here anymore.

But that doesn’t mean I’m safe. I know, at any moment, this monster can turn. Like it has done with so many other people, it can push my rational side away and feed me lies I have no choice but to believe. I’m thankful it hasn’t happened yet, but I’m not oblivious to the possibility.

Several people have asked “What did Robin Williams have to be so upset about?”

Depression doesn’t have to be caused by a specific event. Depression just is.

I was perfectly happy in my life when it hit. I was doing things and going places and thought I was the most amazing person ever. And then one day I couldn’t get out of bed. Thinking about doing anything sent me cowering under the covers. At first I tried to be productive, but when I failed it just made me feel worse so I stopped trying.

If I did manage to do something, my family made it very clear that since I was able to slither out from my bed once I should be able to do it all the time. They blamed my depression on me — my laziness, my medications, my sleep schedule. So as soon as I started to pull out of it, the confrontation of feeling like a fraud sent me right back in.

I don’t cry when I’m depressed. I don’t feel sad. I simply feel bad. I feel like the world is horrible and I am horrible and everyone around me is horrible. I feel worthless and hopeless. I feel like maybe if I stay in bed for one more day, tomorrow I’ll be recharged. But my battery remains dead.

I feel overwhelmed, most of all. Simple every-day tasks are impossible to complete. By the time I’m done changing my son’s diaper, I feel like I’ve just fought in every single war that’s ever taken place and I feel like my son is purposely making it harder for me and Jack is purposely doing something else at just that moment and everyone is out to get me. My depression doesn’t turn me against myself; it turns other people against me. Even if it’s all in my head.

So I understand. I understand how, after decades of fighting, it became too much for Williams. Depression is different for every person afflicted, but I can almost feel what he felt, in those last moments. Sometimes it’s just too hard to hold on.

I feel like a corrupt politician even having these thoughts, but I think they need to be said.

Robin_WilliamsMaybe some good will come from this. Robin Williams reached so many people, in so many different ways.

Mental illness can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time. It can ruin and take lives. Those of us who suffer with mental illnesses are not crazy, we’re not criminals, we’re not lying. We can be saved. But it takes a whole society — a whole country — to help save its own people.

Remember how every ‘trend’ on Twitter had to do with Robin Williams? In one hour, it had gone down to 6. Overnight, it went down to 4. Are people already forgetting?

Robin Williams’ death is a tragedy. But maybe now he can help us all find our voice.

Will you fight to save us?

Are you, or someone you know, having thoughts of suicide? Please, don’t give up. Help is available. Visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-8255.

Do you struggle with depression or another form of mental illness? There are more of us than you know. Let’s rally together to get the help we deserve. Feel free to reach out to me.
How did you feel upon hearing the news? Did it affect you? Did you have any of the same thoughts I did? What is your fondest Robin Williams-related memory? Let me know!

40 thoughts on “Let Robin Williams Help You Find Your Voice

  1. That was really powerful stuff thank you for writing so honestly.

    I don’t know why exactly I was so affected on hearing the news but I was. I hope some good comes out of this in that people start to take mental illness more seriously. We have a long long way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you.

      After reading a few other posts, I think I better understand why so many people were deeply affected. Everyone has their own reasons, but I’m no longer mad about them.

      And you’re right, we do. That’s one of the reasons I wrote this post — to show people that this can happen to anyone.


  2. I must admit, hearing someone speak so honestly and so bitterly about people writing about and mourning over celebrity deaths originally made me angry at you. Because there have been so many celebrities I’ve been bummed about, but haven’t affected me to this extent. But I haven’t ever slated the people who have been upset. Likewise, there have been many celebrities I’ve known who’ve died, who I haven’t had any grounds to mourn over due to me not even knowing what they did in their life. But Robin Williams’ death felt entirely different to every other celebrity death I’ve experienced because, as selfish and as wrong as it seems, it was actually immediately suggested as being suicide. Therefore, immediately a huge chunk of the population are forced to look into their own lives, at their own feelings and happiness, and consider the implications that suicidal thoughts can bring. I think the real outcry and mourning over Robin was louder than others because it was a more relateable, lonely death. We’re all so used to hearing of our favourite actors dying in accidents, getting ill, or dying of old age. Hearing someone suffocate, or hang themselves right from the original announcement (when I first read about it, anyway) immediately gets you thinking. If a man like him can commit suicide, then so can people like us. Robin had problems that everyone knew about, but in the end, it’s hard to consider that a funny man like him could ever want to die. Other actors may not have that stigma surrounding them. If an actor is more serious, takes on harsher roles, then I believe it’s easier for people to accept that they would kill themselves. But when the only films you’ve seen a certain actor in have been comedies or Disneys, it’s a shock to the system. Hence why this has gained more reaction, I think.

    By the end of your post, I’m no longer angry, you’ll be glad to know! Considering the like, I’m glad my post wasn’t one you completely shunned off as sentimental nonsense. As you’ve expressed in your own post Robin’s death has got me thinking about my own mental health. It’s made me think of all the times I’ve been suicidal, all the years and years I’ve been depressed. It’s confirmed to me that I do want to go back and get help again after a year of struggling alone. That may be a selfish reaction, but it’s a reaction dedicated entirely to him. Robin didn’t do much for me – sure, I always considered him one of my favourite actors, and he was a large part of my childhood and my sunday evenings in front of a movie. But like you said, I never knew him. He inspired me, and entertained me, but that’s it. It’s awful that all the other people who died today have been overshadowed by a celebrity. It’s awful that we all can’t mourn Mrs Nobody from a few streets away who died of a terminal illness. But all the same. Mrs Nobody from a few streets away didn’t inspire or entertain millions. She may have inspired and entertained her family, but unfortunately her family couldn’t get her trending.

    I’m sadder about my boyfriend’s dog dying than I am Robin dying. Unfortunately, me writing a long post about Snoopy and how *he* entertained me would probably not mean anything to anyone. But me writing about someone who the rest of the world knew means that I may help someone else come to terms with his death. As humans, we like to stick together. Find common interests and grieve together. And that’s all these blog posts are for, really. Writing to help ourselves and to help each other by speaking things that some others may be afraid to speak about. Without the first person on my reader “outing” themselves as someone with depression, I wouldn’t have written my post.

    Thanks so much for this, and for the links and information at the end. And thanks for liking mine. :)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yours was one that I truly did not hate! And that’s one of the reasons I wasn’t going to write the post to begin with — I knew that I was probably being an asshole and it would piss a lot of people off. Not that I mind pissing people off, but part of me I guess knew I was overreacting. I think it may just be how I view my “friends” (aquaintances who still, but rarely, keep in touch via Facebook) — I try not to judge, but after knowing them for so long and seeing how horrible they can be, I really can’t help it. And I know many of them were just jumping on the bandwagon of “Oh look! Another celebrity died! Let me take this opportunity to tell everyone who already knows and say how very say I am, even though I’ll forget tomorrow.” Within 24 hours he was no longer “trending” on Twitter.

      But, as the post says, even if that’s what they were doing (but I admittedly can’t know for sure), that’s okay. Maybe they were comrades and maybe they were finding their voice. And if not, at least they’re supportive.

      And I didn’t even think about your last point. I always just kind of write whatever, and personally like to read more personal things so I’d probably love a post about Snoopy! But you’re right, it most likely wouldn’t bring as much awareness to mental health and that really needs to be done.

      Thank you, for everything.


  3. Robin Williams gave a voice to our shadow! He made it okay to think thoughts we are conditioned not to think. He allowed us to laugh at those things about us and about others that we are told not to do in public.
    He showed me that being angry was okay, just as long as it didnt control my life.
    Who will carry our shadow now?
    Thanks N&S

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think, hopefully, more and more people will realize and help to end the stigma surrounding mental illness, and maybe the rest of the world will help us carry our shadows. Sadly, we’ll have to wait and see.

      Honestly, I didn’t even know Robin Williams suffered until after his passing. But I am forever thankful of how open he was about it, and the help he gave.


  4. Great post. I wasn’t going to add my two cents, but I ended up posting my piece just now, pretty much saying what you said. Robin Williams was a big deal early in my life, but for one reason or another he simply faded from my radar. When I learned he died, I was a little shocked, but knowing it was suicide really shook me in an unexpected way that has me pretty rattled for some reason.

    Depression makes us do things we don’t want to do, especially suicide, and suicide doesn’t discriminate. No amount of money or fame preventing him from seeking a final solution.

    Again, great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. And it’s so true — I hope more people will realize that now.

      I read your post and liked it, but I felt bad liking or commenting on it until I had responded to everyone here (I was feeling pretty overwhelmed over the last few days). Sorry about that, hopefully I’ll get to it soon!


  5. Isn’t it strange how social pressure can sort of help you slip right in with the rest of the sympathies sprouting across the interweb? I didn’t feel much when I heard RW threw in the towel. I think mostly, I thought back to his performance in one of my favourite films: Dead Poets Society.

    But, mostly, it made me have to peer into myself and the 2 attempts to take my life. It’s funny how easily you can forget the past, even stranger when something like this happens and forces you to look at yourself and think: I’m still here.

    But also it sort of makes me want to write about my own experience with depression and suicide, to help people be more aware and talk about it.. although with my Gramps reading my blog, not sure I’d wanna be responsible for his heart attack.

    Anyway, just wanted to say great article! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dead Poet’s Society is by far one of my favorites as well. Jack has been saying how he wants to watch Robin Williams movies, as he was one of Jack’s all-time favorite actors, and I keep asking to watch it. Amazingly he’s never seen it! (So much for number one fan, ey?)

      I think it’s important to talk about it. For ourselves, because you never know what revelations may come while in the middle of writing; and for others, to show them that they’re not alone; and for strangers or skeptics, to teach them. However, I completely understand not knowing how to approach family with that kind of information. I have a feature here called The Confessional, where anyone and everyone is encouraged to publicly OR anonymously spill their secrets. If it’s something you’d be interested in, let me know!

      And thank you so much=]

      Liked by 1 person

      • So if I choose ‘one-time public’ will it only be published on your website (not mine) but have my details at the bottom?


        • Yes, or I can make you an “author” so you have access to Nonsense & Shenanigans dashboard (parts of it) and can contribute yourself under your name. I don’t think that shows up on your blog, but it will show your name under author and link back to your blog.


          • I completely understand — that’s one of the reasons I started it. I feel like we so often miss out on people’s stories because they have valid reasons not to post on their blogs, so this is a safe space. Also, depending on the comments, they will be moderated and changed if they’re cruel (I go over that in my Comment Policy section — I don’t delete cruel comments, I change them to something hilarious).

            Liked by 1 person

          • Haha, omg.. that’s priceless! I think I read your post about that recently. Thank you so much for the space, it’s such a wonderful idea! I shall get on writing then.. :D

            Liked by 1 person

          • If you’d rather be an “author” and publish it under your own name (with your info at the bottom still), or have me publish it for you with your info at the bottom, just let me know=]


  6. I shared the same thoughts as you. It made me angry to see so many posts about a man no one can say they knew personally, but because they watched him in movies, they MUST be BFF’s, and therefore devastated. A loss is a loss, celebrity or homeless man, Mental illness needs to be brought to the forefront and we (those suffering from it) need to stop hearing we’re crazy. I’m NOT crazy! I’m depressed and I have a severe anxiety disorder. However, calling me crazy again might result in a very ugly scenario in which I wouldn’t even want to be witness to. Beautiful post!! Raise awareness so that those suffering know they aren’t alone!!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! I completely agree — although I often refer to my symptoms as “my crazies,” but I think there’s a strong line between joking about it with my friends and the rest of the world believing it.


      • I am SOOOOOOOO tired of being called crazy. There was a time when I could joke with friends, but no one gets me. No one understands the pain. Sure they can joke, but if they had to live 30 minutes inside my head, I can almost guarantee that they would come out of the fog, desperate for an end (suicide). Keep doing what you’re doing. I can’t promise it’ll get easier, but it’ll make you stronger.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I know how that feels — I’m having serious problems relating to anyone. I mainly only joke with those very close to me, two of them have at least one of the same diagnoses as me.

          What really bothers me if when people tell me I’m fine. I’m very open about myself and my experiences, so everyone knew I wasn’t feeling okay and was going to therapy. When I told them all the diagnoses over the past few days, 99% of them said things like “I don’t believe it,” “You seem fine to me,” “I think everyone goes through that, it’s just life.” And I’m thinking “Oh my god I finally know what’s going on, STOP dismissing this!”


  7. Thank you for your honest and thoughtful post.
    It’s hard to speak of suicide when it’s ‘seriously’ crossed your mind, and once it has happened, it is hard for the family and friends who ‘live on’ beyond the event.
    I have experienced the urge (a long time ago, and I can’t bring myself to talk about it), and I have experienced a close relative who thought this was a way out of her problems(?), and we, none of us, noticed, or ‘heard’ her. I felt guilty for a long time after.
    Reading Zelda William’s letter to her father, Robin, after his death, http://9lives.co.za/robin-williams-daughter-posts-heartbreaking-letter-to-her-father-read/ was heart-breaking, but wonderful. when she says, “While I’ll never, ever understand how he could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay, there’s minor comfort in knowing our grief and loss, in some small way, is shared with millions. It doesn’t help the pain, but at least its a burden countless others now know we carry, and so many have offered to help lighten the load. Thank you for that.” I felt heartbroken, but relieved that she seemed to accept his decision (although she didn’t agree with it, of course), and found it in her heart to thank those who shared her sorrow.
    Another blogging friend, Ronovan, wrote another thoughtful post on this subject which you may like to read: http://ronovanwrites.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/meet-me-a-robin-williams/
    In any case, I make it a point never to judge anyone’s behaviour, because I do not walk in their shoes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I try really really hard not to judge, but every now and then it slips in (as with the people mentioned in the first half of this post). As for suicide, I understand that your mind is not thinking rationally. To me, it’s not a conscious choice. Depression lies to you and tells you it is the ONLY choice, and that not only yourself but everyone around you would be better off. It’s a horrible, horrible thing.

      Never blame yourself. No one is to blame, except for MAYBE the mental health industry and stigma surrounding it. I feel like we should be so much further along in aiding those with mental illness. But even so, I can’t even blame them.

      I saw the video and read Ronovan’s post and was very touched by both as well.

      Thank you for your comment=]


      • Thank you again for your honest post and reply. In some cases I can even understand the rationality of suicide, when it’s harder to stay than to go, for physical and/or emotional reasons… I agree that many other times it is the product of irrationality… but how hard is it to differentiate and help… I also agree with you about the stigma surrounding mental health being partly responsible. Many Websites such as your blog are helpful and sensitise readers. I have already written about the patriarchal and biased depiction of “madness’ and suicide in Jane Eyre, but there are many other examples in literature. I’ll bear it in mind for a future post.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I was sad when Robin Williams died. Even though I didn’t know him in person, it was the person dying that really effected me. Robin Williams was one of my heroes growing up. His life stories gave me hope to keep trying despite my problems. I loved his characters, but I really loved him. It was his perseverance that gave me hope, but I’ll always have that hope whether he’s alive or not. So though it made me sad, it didn’t feel like so much of a loss because I’ll always have what he gave me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t quite understand that at first (hence the beginning of the post — it’s pretty easy to assume everyone’s jumping on the celebrity bandwagon), but people like you made me see that it’s so much more than what I thought, and I fully support and appreciate it now. =]

      Liked by 1 person

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