And so this morning I woke to the shocking news that Robin Williams has left this earthly planet. A loss. A huge loss. A talented and beautiful man. We all have a favourite film don't we? Whether it be his thought provoking performances or his funny ones, his madcap ramblings or his quiet thoughts that he made public, it cannot be denied that he wore himself on his sleeves, and his trousers, and his shirt. My life, for one, will be less. I adored it all. Like many, I could see pain underneath the smile. I could see regret within the eyes that did not always manage to maintain eye contact. I could see shame in his shadow. I do not claim to have walked a path anything like his, but, when you have pulled on the 'I'm entering the building' mask for many years you begin to recognise the make-up.
I like that his passing has been felt by so many. Worldwide. Everyone is shocked. Everyone talks of how happy he made them. One girl said that he made her happy over and over and that the first time he made her sad was 'his' last time. He made everybody happy. Happy with humour but also happy with acceptance. If he can be so happy, in the face of his demons, then so can we.
Something else I have seen much through social media today is phrases like "omg, but he was so happy", or "why couldn't he just tell someone he felt so bad", or "please people, if you feel so bad you get to that place, please just call a counselling service and save yourself". I've read "poor, poor man", "how desperate", "how sad to find yourself in a place where you have no options". Whilst all of this is true it is not right.
(Before I continue, I am not condoning suicide at all, if indeed it was.)
It occurred to me that perhaps the "stigma that surrounds mental illness" is a stigma because of these phrases. Whilst they are meant with love and with compassion I feel these phrases only compartmentalise mental illness when it needs acceptance. For Robin Williams to have lived with his demons for an indeterminable length of time is truly heroic. He has formed an enormously successful career, held down the day job, worked through relationships with people, drugs and alcohol, parented, been public, been private, all whilst wearing the enormous coat of depression. It is an enormous task. It can be like holding a tsunami, using every fibre in every muscle not to give in to its strength. That takes equal strength. It takes superpower! He has held the tsunami for year upon year. He held it back trying to prevent it from taking him under and instead of saying "poor guy, it got him", perhaps we should be saying "On my god, what a hero! He held that tsunami for so long, he held it away from people as much as he could, some people got sprayed, some got soaked, but millions felt the sun instead of the water, he held it on his back and he did it for years."
He is my hero. He has super powers.
Love from the room above the garage.
A Moodscope member.