Yesterday, Robin Williams lost his battle with the depression side of bipolar disorder. Like most of the rest of you, I was devastated by the news.
First, it was numb disbelief. Then, the air got a little thinner and hard to come by, like I’d been punched in the gut, but without the physical pain. Next came the sadness with the overwhelming realization of how much this person truly had touched my life and influenced the way I viewed the world and what an unfillable hole his passing left in its wake.
Then the anger came. Because, no matter how hard I try to tell myself it isn’t my business to be angry over, I can’t help it. I’m downright pissed! Because he lost.
I fell in adoration with Robin Williams when I was still in single digits. From the first episode of Mork and Mindy, I was hooked by the hyper-hilarious man-child’s brand of comedy. It was like nothing I’d ever seen outside of the Muppets. To me, the man WAS a living Muppet!
As I grew up, so did his career. In Good Morning Vietnam, he sucked me in with the funny, then delivered a one-two punch that kept me thinking, long after the credits rolled. The Dead Poets Society left me conflicted, in awe of his talent yet missing the frantic laughter.
By the time he made The Fisher King, I’d read every unauthorized biography printed and knew he battled demons the rest of us couldn’t see. Since I’d also begun to face the reality that I had my own demons lurking just out of view, the way he embraced the role of a man not unlike himself, yet showed the humanity of mental illness instead of the humor of it, touched me deeply.
When Aladdin caught the attention of my Offspring, I was ecstatic! Here was the guy who’d inspired myself and so many others with his comedy, and now I could share that with my children as we laughed together through every hundred-plus viewing of the movie.
In recent years, my adoration had matured into a tangible respect for this man who gave so much joy to so many. His openness about his battles with addiction and the mental illness that first fueled his hilarity, helped me talk about my own. The fact that we were both rapid cycling bipolars made it easier to explain to people. “Like Robin Williams, only not as much.”
This is where the anger stems from; the darkest part of a person that we’re afraid to shed light on. Because it’s ugly and terrifying. It’s that secret part that has paused, looked into the mirror and wondered if it’s all worth it. If maybe it wouldn’t be easier to opt out of the rest of this round and simply find a peace where there’s no more pain.
These are the demons far too many people fight alone, because it’s OK to talk about the ones that make you funny, but not so much the ones that make your soul bleed. It’s the darkness that accompanies the deep depressions and the thoughts that scare the hell out of all of us touched by it.
And it’s these bastards that he lost his battle with.
This morning, sitting in the quiet of my living room, I feel guilty for the anger, but I can’t help it. It’s my truth. I’m furious about whatever unknown was happening that he couldn’t overcome. I’m mad as hell, because it scares the shit outta me. If this man who spoke so openly could fall so far from hope, can I?
I suppose I should try to find the positive in the pain. The number of open discussions all across the internet last night about depression, bipolar, and mental health in general, the sharing of information for those considering suicide, the people speaking openly about their own past attempts and their climb out of that hole of despair – these are good things, positive things that shed light into the darkness so that others might find a way back to a place where there’s both hope and help.
I know that today, after the initial story has run its course, the news media will run piece after piece about mental illness and suicide prevention. And I know someone, somewhere will be in desperate need of that information and seek help from one of the 1-800 numbers given. For that, I owe Mr. Williams one last nod of gratitude.
As for the anger? I’m furious that his death has made me wonder if there may come a day when I’m not strong enough to fight. I’m terrified and enraged that his taking his own life has made me question myself. I’m sure, with time, it’ll fade back into grief. I can only hope that the fear of losing never fades, since it’s what keeps me talking to those closest about it, when it begins creeping up from the blackness.
I can’t change the way my brain works anymore than Robin Williams could. To be honest, I don’t think I would. I can, however, give myself the daily gift of believing that there’s always hope. And I have to believe that that hope will always be enough.
If you or someone you know is in that dark place, please seek immediate help! If you’re nervous about talking to someone on the phone, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has online chat support as well as their 1-800-273-TALK (8255) hotline.
If you’re outside the US, you can find a list of worldwide helplines HERE.
Please remember, no matter how dark it may feel, you’re not alone!
This post was first run on Pixie CD by Chris Dean – subscribe to her writing here
ABOUT CHRIS: Chris Dean is the wife of an extremely tolerant man, mom of four fairly functional adult-kids, world-class music junkie, and all around nut job! She began writing Life Your Way! as a way to help keep her sanity while going through the diagnostic phase for an autoimmune disease. Chris dealt with this speed-bump the same way she’s always dealt with these things: education and laughter. Her mantra has become, “A life without laughter is a life unlived.” And living is exactly what she makes it her goal to do and hopefully inspire others to do as well!
Read more from Chris on BonBon Break
All of the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of BonBon Break Media, LLC
Top photo via Wikipedia Creative Commons; Second photo via Flickr / Creative Commons