I was not going to write anything about Robin Williams . . . but I’m bombarded by opinions, articles, and tributes in every media source I follow. I’m going to share thoughts people are likely not going to agree with. Many will say I don’t know what I’m talking about. I won’t be able to convince them otherwise, but I don’t much care; it’s a two way street.
I watched the above videos, and a few more for good measure. The first one had been suggested to me by a person that suffers from depression, and I watched it last year. The second video I chanced on because of the speaker’s age, and I watched it this evening along with other talks from both sufferers and health professionals.
Here’s what I got from those and other videos . . .
. . . first, depression sucks. Really sucks.
. . . second, people suffering from it do better if they fight it. Any. Way. They. Can.
I was not a fan of Robin Williams. I didn’t dislike him, either. He was just another person sharing this planet with me.
He was fresh when he came onto the scene, and he made me laugh, but his style of comedy was over the top, so my laughter faded rather quickly. Not Jim Carrey over the top, but similar; the comedy relied on shock value. It was not clever; it was strange. I saw a number of his movies, and was not impressed. Perhaps the one I liked the best was Moscow in the Hudson, but even that did not merit a second viewing.
His mannerisms came across as continually pushing the envelope rather than to genuinely be funny. Think of the equivalent of someone wearing a chicken on their head to get laughs . . . after a few times, they better graduate to a turkey, or risk losing the laughs.
I don’t feel the sadness others are expressing for his passing.
I think humans are inherently selfish. Many people wish something could have been done to help Mr. Williams overcome his desire to kill himself, but based on what I read, hear, and understand about depression, that seemingly altruistic desire amounts to essentially condemn a person to a living hell.
I get it . . . what people really mean is they wish he continued life without his depression, but that was not going to happen, was it?
Robin Williams had access to the best medicines, best therapy, best professional help, was successful, well loved . . . given all that, should we not respect his decision? He put in 63 years in this world; obviously a worthy effort, both professionally and personally.
Given all he accomplished, and his age, no one can say he did not put in the good fight.
Do we have a right to wish that he had keep going? What more could have been done by anyone that would have kept him from killing himself?
It’s sad when anyone we know dies, even if we only knew of him. Even so, he was more to us than the other roughly 800,000 suicides each year. Obviously, we did not know the real person. That’s where the selfishness comes in . . . he was our entertainer; our sadness is at least in part due to the loss we feel and of the reminder of our own mortality, and not necessarily thinking of the hell he was going through; a hell that literally pushed him to end it all.
The problem I have with this particular topic is that some of the stuff mentioned in the videos is stuff I am familiar with. Let’s be clear about this; there is no one, including me, who would classify me as suffering from depression. The reason is that depression is described as a symptom, and I don’t have that. Depression is identified by the paralysis response to the feelings.
And yet . . . and yet the feeling they describe, the examples they give? Very familiar.
The difference, I think, is that some people are very good at fighting them.
Are people who don’t suffer from depression experiencing feelings less severe than people who struggle with them so? I don’t know; I don’t have a way to judge the relative strength of feelings
The speakers in the above and other videos were at one or more times paralyzed by feelings of hopelessness, uncertainty, inadequacy, the oppressive feeling of responsibility, of expectations . . . Were their feelings stronger than those of other people?
I argue ‘no’ precisely because one cannot set a metric to what a person feels. Judging based on the end result (depression) is only indicative of how a person copes, not of what (or how strong) they feel nor of how hard one works to control those debilitating feelings.
All the speakers I heard have one thing in common; they fought, and are still fighting to not be paralyzed. They fight the depression. Some are more successful than others, but fight they do. Be it through self-realization, through medicine, through medical intervention, through whatever method works, they fight it. They do not fight the feelings; indeed, they can’t. They fight the paralysis resulting from those feelings.
Those around them can help, but make no mistake; it is a fight one must want to fight. Those feelings? Still there, and it annoys me a bit that the fight against depression is not recognized unless one fails.
I wrote about suicide before (HERE). I don’t feel sadness for Robin William. I feel sad for his family and friends, for I know a bit of what might be going through their minds. Was there something they failed to do? Could they have stopped it?
Being removed from Robin William’s life my thought is not of loss but of someone no longer suffering. Perhaps that is a good thing.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.