I have not been myself these past few weeks. In fact for most of August, I have been inactive. My trusty laptop died on me (well the screen didn’t work the way it used to,) not to mention migraine headaches, each and every day. The medication no longer worked, which led to bouts of depression, which is not the best of states to be in – emotional and otherwise. And during my personal ordeal, the news of the death of Robin Williams was announced.
As with the death of Michael Jackson before him, I knew exactly where I was at the time and in each case I was burning the midnight oil when the news came via the BBC News Channel.
Like most people throughout the world I was shocked, and very sad at the announcement of Robin’s death. He was a wonderful Actor and Comedian, who spread so much joy and laughter throughout the world. I found it hard to accept that someone as creative and as intelligent as Robin would take his own life. His death has brought up an unsettling reality about Life many people are still getting their heads around.
This is Robin Williams. This was a Man who was recognised as the best Comedian in the world. He was also a great Actor and Dramatic Actor who had won an Oscar (Best Supporting Actor for his role in ‘Good Will Hunting’). He was wealthy and owned a big house in San Francisco. He was happily married as far as anyone was aware, and he was still in demand as an Actor and Comedian. And here is the thing, he was universally loved. I don’t think l have ever met anyone who didn’t like/love Robin Williams. Yet, despite all this, he suffered from Depression, which ultimately led to his suicide. And as someone who has suffered from bouts of depression from time to time, Robin’s death hit home very hard, for all the reasons given above. I have never enjoyed the level of success Robin has – Nowhere near – But his death led to an unsettling truth.
The unsettling truth is: ‘It is not about what you have, what you get or achieve. It is how you look and think about it all. Some people have very little in life but are very happy. Then some people have it all and are as miserable as sin. This all happens in reverse also so let’s be clear, it is not about what you have.
Robin Williams suffered from Depression. Depression is a complicated Subject and one that is difficult to talk about. I speak from personal experience. It is not easy to change your thinking under such circumstances – it is just not that simple, nor easy. One can try but when it feels like four walls are closing in on you, you are alone and it feels as if you are falling into a vacuum and you are spiralling ever downwards, it is very easy to think that everything is over – there is no point in going on.
No one should be judgemental here. For too long others have been too quick to write people off due to their suffering from Depression, without ever understanding what it is to be in this state of illness.
Having suffered from Depression at one time or another over the past thirty years and having spoken to fellow depression sufferers who are less successful than I am or even more successful, I have observed Depression is no respecter of people. It affects the affluent as much as it does the poor.
Dealing with people and Life generally as part of my work and career, I have also observed that we (whether we realise it or not,) generate our own emotions, meanings and experiences which are not dependent on what we get, have or achieve. If they were, then Robin Williams would most likely still be here with us.
The other side of the argument is that we can get caught up in the dictatorial will of others and instead of following our own emotions, meanings and experiences, these are dictated by the will of others, career demands or experiences of others be they an employer, industry or a partner. The above issues are just more likely to lead to a deeply depressed state than if we were generating our own emotions, meanings and experiences. Where Robin was emotionally I have no idea. I can only relate to you my own experiences in dealing with Depression, which has punctuated my adult life since the age of twenty.
The reason I am discussing Migraine, Depression, Career Matters and Robin Williams is because up until this year, like lots of people, I used to say to myself:-
“I will be happy when I get a big part in a movie, make lots of money, see my career become more successful, get a soul mate or move to another location etc. etc.”
The lesson I learned, the truth I learned is not dependent on any of the above. It comes down to how one thinks about things on a consistent basis. It may not prevent me from suffering future bouts of depression but I am in a much better place to deal with it if and when they return. I just need to be happy within myself and realise there is only so much control I have over any particular issue.
Robin Williams was the best at what he did. I love you Robin, you will be sadly missed but you will live on in your comedy, film and television work.
(July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014)