When my friend texted yesterday that Robin Williams died, it felt like a punch in the gut. I’m normally the type of person that can’t stand it when people flood social media channels with half-ass memorials and tributes to celebrities who have passed, but Robin Williams taking his own life felt so personal.
Robin was in the movies that defined my childhood. We know what they were and I watched two of them last night, losing my shit when Neil kills himself in Dead Poets Society and when Peter realizes he can fly in Hook. It felt very personal, and selfish, to think, “Holy shit. My childhood really is gone.”
As an adult I’ve often felt like I’m only participating half-way in the real world. As if one day I’m going to snap out of adulthood and be a kid again, and all the tough stuff I’ve gone through and my friends have gone through would just be a bad dream. So many people feel this way that it seems almost silly to dwell on it. Of COURSE we’re all just bumbling through this life, STILL figuring out who we are at 25, 30, 43, or 63.
To see a man who provided so much comfort and laughs during some of the important stages of your life also struggle with adulthood is both comforting and upsetting, because you always want to turn a hopeful heart to those that you admire and convince yourself everything is going to be okay. It’s an unfair pressure to put upon those you admire, but everyone does it.
Which is exactly the kind of pressure the depressed mind cannot handle. Depression fucking lies to you, man. As someone who struggled with a really heavy bout of depression in my early to mid-twenties, who sometimes had really dark thoughts, it’s hard for me to imagine those dark thoughts actually winning. I would always snap out of it. I would think of my brothers, of my friends, of my parents and yeah, my dog. I really thought about how if I killed myself my dog wouldn’t understand it, and then the depression would slowly lift.
I know I’m lucky. I know I’m fucking blessed beyond belief to have the coping mechanism to get me out of it. Depression made me stronger and while it’s still always in the back of my head, I know I can get through it.
But with Robin, seeing how he stayed sober for 20 years, and then faltered, but then got himself back into rehab, only to completely fall down the hole, that’s heartbreaking and scary. Because it turns out that it might never go away. That one day you could wake up and think it’s time to let the hole cover you completely. That the love you have for your family and friends and life itself might not be enough one day.
For me, this isn’t just sad because he was an amazing performer, who, by all accounts, was a GENUINELY good person, but it’s fucking heartbreaking because even amazingly good people can feel like no one loves them, that they’re not worth the space they take up in the world, that the only way out is to end their life.
When I was younger I thought suicide was the most selfish, full of shit thing a person could do and I’ll admit, there are times where I still think this way. I can’t fathom leaving kids behind, or causing that much pain to people that I love.
But what I’ve gained in going through depression myself, and watching others that I love go through it as well, is the understanding that it’s not a selfish action. It’s a desperate, mentally ill reaction. It’s a person who is reacting to a brain that literally cannot think straight.
The reason this hurts so fucking much is because Robin Williams was a really good person, who had an amazing talent, who was loved by so many people, and not even these facts could get through to his depressed mind. And when you’ve had a depressed mind (and if you still have one) it’s really difficult to not feel so, so, so shitty about it. To be scared that one day you might not be able to get out of the lying, awful hole that depression can be.
Robin’s death hits so hard because so many of us have been there, some of us continue to be there, and one day some of us might be back there again. The human condition is really terrifying sometimes, but fuck, it’s the only condition we have.
"Young women can be lost, too."
Thank you, Amy Poehler.
Honestly, if I could just have one fucking night of drinking without having to call out misogynistic pieces of shit, I could die happy.