Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Thoughts on the Loss of Robin Williams

Robin Williams once said,  "You are only given a little spark of madness. You Mustn't lose it".

        I have never met Robin Williams.  I was a child when he became so wildly successful in the television series, Mork and Mindy.   So many fine films followed.   He wasn't just a stand-up comedian with energy to burn. He was a brilliant comedic actor with fine timing, and a fine dramatic actor who understood poignancy and vulnerability in his acting.

                    I have no doubt that in life Robin Williams was a strange bird.  His mental quickness alone would have challenged most anyone, and he was highly intelligent.  He also had a lovely way of making fun of himself which made the rest of us feel that our own flaws might make us funny and perhaps special also.  Do you recall his making fun of himself for excessive chest hairiness ?   His routine was hysterical.

                    Even listening to interviews and Tonight Show appearances, one could get the idea that Robin Williams might well be classically bipolar.    When he was "on", he was "on".   I remember Katie Couric, in one interview, simply unable to process all he said in such rapid succession.  I can remember thinking after one such performance that highs that high would probably lead to lows pretty low, and hoping that he would be getting some treatment.     Sometimes, he would be interviewed and he could come across as a sad clown in need of a hug.

                    Robin Williams knew multiple marriages, fatherhood, great friendships, wealth, fine homes including a Napa Valley vineyard, and great success and fame in something he loved to do.  He received recognition for his work from far and wide.   And yet, yesterday, he is said to have taken his own life at only 63.

                   He was a very charitable soul.  Although comments to the contrary do exist, he did pay portions of medical bills to the University of Virginia when close friend Chris Reeve was paralyzed in the mid-nineteen nineties. 

                   He left a legacy of love and entertainment to many, and will be remembered fondly.

He did leave something though, he did not intend.   If someone classically bipolar with success, money, children, a loving spouse, and great recognition in his chosen profession cannot endure the depressions which come with bipolar disorder, and chooses to take his own life, then other people ravaged by disorders within the bipolar disorder continuum may think the same.

               Please, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.   Life can be pretty difficult, at intervals, for most everyone.  When we end our lives, or even play at ending our lives, we ensure that our lives on Earth will never get better again.  We will never see the great highs and happiness again, if we end our earthly existences while we still dwell on the bottom.

             If you, or someone you love is scraping the bottom of life right now, please get help.     There are better treatments for bipolar disorder than there have been before.   Most people can find a middle ground with the illness which allows their independent thought and creativity to continue to emerge, without allowing the unbridled  crashes which episodically occur with this disorder.

               Robin Williams was said to have been downsizing before his passing.    Keep a close eye on your bipolar loved ones when they start shedding things they love, or begin giving them away.  

               Suicide adversely impacts families now, but also for a couple of generations afterward.   The negative lessons of someone who chose to leave you, while sane or otherwise, hangs over families and interferes with their ability to raise their own families, often for as long as another lifetime.

                There are many ways to survive, and to ensure that your family does, as well.    Suicide is not one of these.    I once knew someone who thought that his family was better off without him.    They weren't. but of course, he is not here to see that now.


Dani said...

Very, very sad news.

I, too, lost someone very important to me when I was 16. The wound still hurts and the space is never filled.

What is even sadder is the fact that a large percentage of all those comedians out "there" are depressives. So much laughter and joy that they give to others, whilst inside they are completely the opposite.

May Robin rest in peace finally.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thank you for your comment, Dani. I am sorry that your life has been touched by such a loss also. Take good care.

PioneerPreppy said...

I don't like to hear about anyone dying. Suicide or otherwise. I did find some of his stand up stuff entertaining but as usual once he got some notoriety, like most entertainment types, he began attempting to promote his worldview with his talent. I guess one cannot blame him for that as we are all guilty of doing the same but his worldview certainly didn't line up with mine. In his own way he did more damage to society as a whole than he did good I think. Perhaps the circumstances of a world he helped create added to his depression.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks for your post PP. I didn't know anything about his political views, but I am not surprised that I would not have shared them. Someone who is monetarily successful in the entertainment industry leads a life with perceptions that are wildly different from our own. I suppose he was no exception there.
Thanks for your comments.

kymber said...

Jane - i think that he was a very funny comedian and i really enjoyed him in the last few years in some really dramatic roles such as 1 hour photo.

however, it was your last paragraph that bothered me the most. my next door neighbour and best friend's husband was bipolar and never diagnosed. she has shared so many stories with me about his good times with her and the kids (5 boys) and the bad times where she hid him in the bedroom for days and tried to make it seem like everything was ok for the boys. he eventually committed suicide while in the living room with the boys while she was at work. he took a whole pile of different pills that he had gotten for anxiety and depression. the boys didn't know that their father was dead, they thought he was sleeping as he was often sleeping in the recliner for hours at a time while they watched tv. sometimes we hug each other and don't say anything but both of us know what we are thinking. sometimes she tells me all kinds of stuff about him. but the most amazing thing about her is that she went back to school to become an in-home caretaker. and she has been doing that for 12 years now. she says she does it for her husband.

it makes me want to cry. but i know that the best thing that i can do for her is be strong, be there for her, show interest and care in her boys. we love all of her boys and they love us. her third eldest boy and girlfriend are pregnant....her third eldest is my absolute favourite as he has such an emotional, sensitive side to him. he asked me and jam to be the godparents of the baby! can you believe that?

i know that i am rambling but your post just set off some nerves. i don't know how my friend has managed to be so strong, such a good mother and such a good person after all she has been through. and her kids, too. but i am so glad to have the opportunity to befriend her...and all of her boys.

she really loves it when i tell her that her boys are gorgeous, sweet and sensitive but dumb as a bag of hammers - it always makes her laugh!!! she says they get their looks and intelligence from her and their dumbness from their dad. i love to make her laugh. so does jam. we love her and her boys.

rambling over. much love Jane.

your friend,

JaneofVirginia said...

Bipolar disorder is a very difficult but to crack for many people. There are much better drugs and much better management strategies now than there ever were before. Still, some sufferers manage to hide their problem for an extended period. Many of them, if left untreated do ultimately commit suicide. If you include depression, then it is estimated that every family has at least one member with mental illness.
We need to understand and accept that mental illness is an issue, just as lupus, MS, or other physical ailments are. Perhaps then, more people would be treated.
I think your friend is lucky to have you both as a support.

Best wishes to you both,