When One Of The Funniest Men On Earth Lost His Battle With Depression

Last Monday, August 11th, I woke up to the news that the great comedian and all around lovable guy Robin Williams had died. First I read some posts on Facebook about it, but I did not take it seriously since Facebook is notorious for its hoaxes. As soon as I went down from my room, I turned the TV on and tuned into some of the biggest news channels, from CNN, BBC, Fox and even Al Jazeera. Yes, it was confirmed that one of the funniest guys on earth apparently committed suicide. I was in total shock. I am not into celebrities. I don’t follow any of them, but I am more fascinated with comedians and I like comedy movies and sitcoms. As far as a I remember, Robin William’s early sitcom “Mork and Mindy” was the first sitcom that I liked as a kid. Even though I did not understand most of the situations and jokes back then, I liked his physical comedy. His energy as a comedian captivated my young mind. And who could ever forget his egg-shaped space ship, his red space suit, silver boots, silver gloves and his alien greeting “nanoo nanoo”. Since then I became a fan of Mr. Williams. Good Morning Vietnam, Jumanji, Mrs. Doubtfire, Awakenings, Patch Adams, Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, The Birdcage, One Hour Photo are some of the most memorable movies that I’ve seen. His guest appearance on the American improv show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” was hilarious. His appearance on Louis C.K.’s sitcom was like passing a torch from one great comedian to another. His features on every talk show specifically on Letterman, Leno and O’Brien were all delights. As Conan O’ Brien said, Robin Williams is the best talk show guest ever.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQCbbMDHHqE

Wherever he goes, he is like a firecracker going off. A dynamite of man where his comedic energy is waiting to be lit and once set, it will just explode, leave a big crater of laughter and happiness for all the people around him. Mr. Williams is a very versatile actor. He is a brilliant comedian who is able to adapt to any situation and come up with a quick joke and make an effective comeback anytime. He is also an effective, serious actor that can really bring tears out of men. Awakening with Robert De Niro and Good Will Hunting were not chick flicks, but straight on dramas that made me shed tears. I believe that all comedians are more effective as drama actors than the actual drama actors. And there may be also some truth that most comedians are tormented individuals.

The many faces of Robin Williams. Image courtesy of www.businessinsider.my
The many faces of Robin Williams. Image courtesy of www.businessinsider.my

The Report Of His Death

I waited for 2 more days to get the official report that would follow the breaking news of William’s death. According to the police report, he was found by his personal assistant at 11:45 am fully clothed and in a seating position, unresponsive and not breathing. He was secured by a belt around his neck with the end of the belt wedged between the door frame and the closet door. There were also cut marks on his wrist and a pocket knife was found near the body. Toxicology test will take several weeks to show if Williams was on drugs or alcohol upon his death. Williams’ media rep also said that the actor was battling severe depression. Mr Williams went to rehab for drug and alcohol addiction in the past. He also went through heart surgery a few years ago, which some experts say may have added to his depression.

It really made me think about how a very talented and generous individual who is loved, respected by many and an overall nice guy would carry such a heavy burden. It is really sad that such a nice and funny guy was plagued by an extreme depression that would eventually end his life.

 What Is Depression?

According to the World Health Organization, there are over 350 million people around the world suffering from depression. In Australia, About 1 million or 1 in 6 adults are afflicted with depression. In the US, according to the report of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 9% of Americans are suffering from some form of minor depression while 3.4% suffer from major depression. This means about 25 million Americans will have an experience with depression, but only half of them will receive treatment. Without any treatment, the severity and frequency of the symptoms will increase over time.

Image courtesy of http://guardianlv.com/
Image courtesy of http://guardianlv.com/

Major depression can be described as a mood state that goes far beyond temporarily feeling sad or down. It is a very serious mental illness that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings, mood and physical health. Some individuals may only have one episode of depression in their lifetime and some will have recurring episodes. Some may have depression episodes in a year, while others may have ongoing symptoms. If left untreated, the episodes may last for a few months to many years. Major depression or clinical depression or unipolar mood disorder can lead to serious impairment of a person’s daily function and at worst, will lead to suicidal thoughts or tendencies. Researchers and experts stated that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US and more than half of people who have committed suicide are suffering from depression. The World Health Organization has stated that by 2020, depression will be the 2nd leading cause to the global burden of disease. Fortunately, clinical depression can be treated. The availability of effective medications and treatments and a better understanding of the symptoms and effects of depression can help in early detection, the right diagnosis and the decision in seeking medical treatment. Treatments can include psychotherapy, medication or a combination of the two. It is essential that the person suffering from depression and the people close to them should be actively involved in addressing the situation.  It is also important the depressed individual should recognize their disorder for an effective diagnosis and treatment.

Knowing The Symptoms and Signs Of Depression

Depression symptoms vary from person to person, but there are common signs that you can look out for if a friend or a family member suddenly becomes isolated. You have to remember that the symptoms can be part of everyday life’s normal lows, but the more signs, the stronger they are and the longer they last, it is likely that person is suffering from depression. If the symptoms are disabling and overwhelming, then is time to seek professional help.  Signs may include:

  1. Sleep changes
  2. Feelings of helplessness
  3. Loss of interest in daily activities
  4. Weight changes
  5. Appetite changes
  6. Easily irritated
  7. Loss of energy
  8. Reckless behavior
  9. Problems concentrating
  10. Unexplained pains in the body

Major depression can lead to becoming suicidal, the hopelessness and deep despair along with depression can make the thought of suicide an escape from the pain and extreme sadness the person is feeling. Thoughts of dying or death are also symptoms of extreme depression so you have to take it seriously. For many people who are suffering from depression and contemplating suicide, the signs below are a cry for help. Signs can include:

  1. Getting affairs in order; tying any loose ends or giving away any prized possessions
  2. Visiting or calling close friends and families to say goodbye
  3. Talking of doing harm to one’s self or talking about suicide
  4. Preoccupation with dying
  5. Acting recklessly as if having a death wish
  6. Sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting happy or calm

The cycle needs to be broken. Imge courtesy of www.clinical-depression.co.uk
The cycle needs to be broken. Imge courtesy of www.clinical-depression.co.uk

Understanding And Helping Someone Suffering From Depression

You can help a friend or a loved one battle depression by understanding what it is. Learn how to reach out and talk about the condition with your friend or loved one. Below are some basic truths that will help you understand the disease. And by understanding, compassion will come through and treatment for the person will proceed for them to recover. Understand that:

Depression Is A Disease         

Depression is a real disease just like cancer, or diabetes. It is a mental disorder that physically manifests. Again, this is a treatable condition. Acknowledge its presence and you will be able to take the next step in healing.

Image courtesy of www.medfitnessblog.com
Image courtesy of www.medfitnessblog.com

Anyone Can Be Depressed

Famous, popular, rich people and even comedians just like Robin Williams can suffer from depression. Depression spares no one. There is no common face for depression. Nobody is immune.

Depression Signs Are Not Personal

Depression makes it hard for a person to have a deep emotional connection with anyone, even the people closest to them. Most depressed people may say hurtful things and will just burst out in anger. You have to remember that these are the emotional effects of depression. The person does not mean to say things that will hurt anyone on purpose, so don’t take it personally.

Depression Is Not A Fashion Statement

Being depressed is not a fashion statement, as has been seen in the developing “emo kid” culture. There is nothing romantic about an illness that takes away your happiness and self worth.

Emo. nuff said. Image courtesy of www.funnyjunk.com
Emo. nuff said. Image courtesy of www.funnyjunk.com

Everyone Suffering From Depression Deserves Help

When a person is feeling depressed, they also feel that they don’t deserve any help. The most important thing in the world is the connection with people and living a life where anyone can wake up and feel excited about the things that will happen. Everyone has the right to be loved, connect to people and be happy.

It Is Not Easy To Tell If Someone Is Fighting Depression

While someone may seem to act happy or be perfectly talkative, they may be silently suffering from depression. You have to remember that everyone has their own struggles in life and everyone deals with them differently. If someone has talked to you or asked for any kind of help, try your best to reach out. By reaching out to them or just by simply talking to them, you had saved their life, especially if they are contemplating suicide.

A call for help. Image courtesy of marciakatz.com
A call for help. Image courtesy of marciakatz.com

Depression does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone, it doesn’t matter what your status is, your age, gender, IQ or race. If you suspect that someone is going through depression, acknowledge their condition, understand them, reach out and help them. Professional help is the best thing for the person. If the person feels that no one cares about them or there is too much of a burden to carry it can lead to another suicide statistic, just like what happened to the brilliant, warm and funny man, Robin Williams.

4 COMMENTS

  1. It was in those early hours – when the sun had long gone down
    When a man in desperation, was not acting as the clown
    A knife he held within his hand to sever the torment he felt
    But instead his life would end by the tightening of a belt
    What was he thinking in those hours of total desolation?
    This man of many talents how cruel to die alone in isolation.
    What were those many moments when nowhere that he could turn
    To ease those noisy voices that haunted him within

    We knew his face in many roles he sang and danced unending
    The laughter of his spirit hid all those messages he was sending
    When the audience was grand and he pleased them to no end
    Or the way that he connected to the weary, the sick, or a friend
    But for him, his abilities were never quite remarkably defined
    They were, so many different roles he played an art within his mind
    Yet, those little voices that haunted his resistance to the test
    That dealt its heavy hand it lent and gave him little rest
    The battle that he fought throughout his life where no one quite would reach
    In his final great performance that no schooling quite could teach
    In death, he will remain a very vivid partl of us in memory
    Even though we mourn his loss we are consoled he now is free.

    HIS GREATEST PERFORMANCE – rip Robin Williams 8/14/14 Rina E. Zarba

  2. I am sure you are aware now that Robin Williams’ wife has recently revealed that Robin was suffering from the early stages of Parkinson’s, one of the symptoms of which is depression. He committed suicide before he was ready to announce it.

    This revelation in no way diminishes the effects of depression itself, with or without it being the onset of Parkinson’s. Though I really wish that he had reached out to Michael J. Fox for help. Fox has been dealing with Parkinson’s for a few years now and is still performing. He could have helped Robin away from the edge. But who knows? There could have been something in Robin’s psyche that was holding him back from seeking help. We’ll never know unless his wife chooses to share information.

    Apart from all this, the graphic above that lists “the many faces of Robin Williams” forgot one dramatic role: “Chris Nielsen” in “What Dreams May Come,” also released in 1998, co-starring Annabella Sciorra. That was a profoundly beautiful and bittersweet movie.

    I, like so many others, will miss Robin’s wit, his genius-level comic timing, and above all, ginormous heart and wisdom. He is a testament to the value of being truly unique, being able to stand head and shoulders above “the crowd” and not being afraid to shine our inner Light.

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