He was able to make everyone else happy but himself – farewell Robin Williams

“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.”

― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

Today the world mourns the loss of an entertainment legend – Robin Williams. His incredible comedic, and at times, dramatic talents will live on forever in such memorable films as Dead Poets Society, The Birdcage and Mrs. Doubtfire to name but a few. He truly had an amazing legacy as an entertainer.

Famed director Gary Marshall said of Williams passing, “He could make everybody happy but himself.” Williams was battling severe depression at the time of his death.

Few people really understand what it means to be “depressed”. Here’s a good summation from Barbara Kingsolver from The Bean Trees:

“There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, ‘There now, hang on, you’ll get over it.’ Sadness is more or less like a head cold- with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.”

I myself battled moderate depression several years ago and can tell you it’s not easy to break free from the feelings of utter sadness and hopelessness. One day just blends into the other and no matter what joy might come into your life, you just can’t help but feel lost and alone. And yes, sometimes you do question if life would be better off without you in it. For some it’s the only means to escape a world in which they simply cannot fit in.

Thankfully my case was only moderate and with proper treatment I was able to emerge with the tools I needed to see beyond and better cope.

But that doesn’t happen for everyone. For those facing severe depression like Williams was, all the treatment is the world doesn’t always help. A very sad reality.

If you know someone you might suspect is battling depression, regardless of the degree, talk to them and do your best to get them help. It might not be the most comfortable conversation to have, but many times it’s the most important.

Thanks for all the laughs Robin – it’s the angels turn now.