It’s 4 in the morning, and the kid has woken us up. After he’s settled in, I grab the tablet to lazily scroll twitter till I feel sleepy again. And that’s when I see the simple tweet and link: “Remembering Robin Williams.”
I’m a huge Robin Williams fan. Grew up with Mork and Mindy. Had the old VHS tapes of his comedy club performances. Would go over to my neighbour’s house who had HBO to watch Comic Relief. Been lucky enough to watch him perform standup live. And of course, all the life-altering characters he portrayed on the big screen. He was smart, he was fast, he was truthful, he was poignant. And by god, he was funny.
I’m not interested in the how pertaining to his manner of death – it’s been ruled consistent with suicide. I’m not even interested in the why – it was openly acknowledged he’d battled sobriety and addiction issues for years, and his publicist had stated he’d been going through a severe depression. I’m writing this to remind you…to remind myself that mental health affects 1 in 4 of us regardless of our socio-economic status, or talent, or gifts. It does not discriminate. And while the resources we have or can access (such as having the saved cash to take time off work, or having comprehensive health care) can often facilitate a speedier forward momentum through the mental health issue, “perks” like money, fame, adoration, support aren’t guarantees that you’ll get “better”. Everyone is still facing a challenge.
The tributes have begun pouring in, and I’ve already noticed a theme, the phrase ‘a sudden loss’. It’s sudden, yes…for the people left in the wake of suicide. It’s almost never sudden for the person who has killed themselves. I’ve written about my suicide ideation before, as have many others, and while our stories all differ due to our circumstances, one thing is shared – suicide would not have been ‘sudden’ for us. It would have been the end of a very long battle.
If you are going through a mental health issue, please know you aren’t alone. UK people can call the Samaritans day or night at 08457 90 90 90 or email email@example.com. Americans, you can call the Samaritans hotline at 1 (800) 273-TALK. If you are really in a jam and can’t remember that number, dial 211 and tell them you need to talk to someone now – 211 is a nationwide health directory number who will connect you to someone who can listen. Everyone around the world can use Befrienders.org’s directory to find their local organization to listen.
I’ll end on a quote by Robin that makes me smile: “Comedy is acting out optimism”, and a bunch of gifs, because..because I need a laugh, and Robin Williams was, and is, the master of making us laugh.
And with comedy, optimism…