Category Archives: Depression
We can sometimes measure how much someone is loved by how much laughter they bring to our lives. We can also measure it by how many tears are shed when they depart. Robin Williams was one such man where both of these are immeasurable, and it is genuine sorrow and despair that has gripped millions around the world upon hearing of his death early this week.
Growing up, Robin Williams was one of the most popular icons of my childhood. His exuberant talents as the Genie in Aladdin to his hilarious performance in Mrs. Doubtfire were just a few roles he fulfilled that brought laughter to the lives of many. Robin Williams is associated with smiles; he is associated with cosy family nights in, feeling the warmth and energy surround you and your loved ones as you watch one of his films; he is associated with laughter in the school playground, trying to mimic the many voices he used to do. And now, he is also associated with the other end of the spectrum: sadness, despair, shock and grief.
Depression can grip some of the best people, this is true. How could a man like Robin Williams not suffer from depression? This was a man who loved to make people laugh. He was someone whose warmth and compassionate nature was so powerful that it shone through his performances, right through our television screens. For someone who loved so deeply, strongly and whose ambition was to make others smile, how could melancholy and sadness not be a part of his life, when life itself is often swathed in misery, suffering and heartache? When events unfold that cause tears, not laughter, to flow from you, how can anyone not feel overwhelming sadness at this? I am of the belief that it was this constant battle with a world that was out of sync with what Robin Williams wanted, what so many of us want, that contributed towards his untimely passing. I don’t believe anyone will ever know what was going through his mind when he took his own life, nor the exact reasons behind it. Maybe things got too much; maybe he wanted to leave on his own terms; maybe we shan’t ever know. But for a person to take this route, we can only suspect one infallible thing: this is a sign of someone who has been too strong for too long and it is for this reason that we must acknowledge the strength and courage it took for him to keep going for as long as he did, not just despair at the ending itself.
His death, like his films, has taught us many things. It has taught us that money, fame and status are not the elixir of life, as so many are fooled into thinking. Material abundance is no guarantee of happiness. It is no assurance that those who have these things cannot fall victim to depression. As humans beings, no matter our backgrounds or status, we can all be susceptible to it. It can even be said that his death has brought the wide divide between the ‘ordinary’ and the ‘extraordinary’ closer together; Robin Williams has shown us that Hollywood is not a land of untouchable, immortal gods, but instead a place of human beings who can suffer just as we suffer, feel just as we feel.
So we will grieve, all of us who have been affected by him in some way, large or small. Much bewilderment will continue, much sadness and many, many tears. But as time passes, the legacy he left will continue to grow stronger. Though he has gone, his ability to make people smile lives on. Whenever we flick on our TV screens and see one of his films, whenever we scroll through Youtube and hear ‘You ain’t never had a friend like me!” whenever we just think of an actor who made us crack a grin – that is the legacy he left. It is timeless, priceless and, above all, it continues to serve as a beacon for others who know what darkness is, but through Williams’ example, can retain hope that spreading light into the lives of others is a very real possibility and attainable goal. Robin Williams may have extinguished the light inside himself, but he has lit flames in thousands upon thousands and there really can be no greater achievement than that. I firmly believe life does not end when we die and that there is a place we go to where darkness, sorrow, illness and depression does not exist. It is a comfort, perhaps, to the many of us left behind that someone who gave so much to this world is now free from the very miseries that made him want to leave it in the first place. RIP Robin Williams.