Monday, August 11, 2014

Why the passing of Robin Williams hurts so much, and why it should matter to everyone.

Robin Williams is gone from our real world, and we are at a profound loss for it.

I never had the opportunity to work with, or even meet the man. I have no real or personal experiences to share about him. Yet, like so many others, I feel a profound loss for someone that mostly only appeared on television and the silver screen. I never saw him in concert, nor in a comedy club, yet I too feel a sadness that makes very little sense. We never feel this sadness for the countless that die every day, but here, something is different. We don't know him, yet still, he has always felt as if he were part of all of our families, and we thought he would always be there.

It is more than just his body of work. He was someone that we could connect with on a very personal level. No matter the medium, he always made us feel as if we were his family, and that he was so happy to have us there. Seeing him in anything was like going home for Christmas. It was an event that everyone was there for, and for those brief moments, you connected not just with Robin, but with everyone in the theater, or the club, or wherever you were at.

He has had a profound impact on so many of today's comedians, actors, writers and directors. So many came into the business inspired by his work. For those that never chose the show business life, he spoke to us in a way that we could easily understand every word that came out of that brilliant mouth. He was our best friend. And now he is gone.

What compounds the pain and loss is that he apparently took his own life after suffering from a terrible depression. Artists like Robin often have extreme highs and lows, however we never see the lows. We are fortunate to have experienced the highs of his life, however, only he could deal with the inevitable lows that always came with it. Knowing so many artists as I do, I can only imagine how hard they were for Robin.

Depression is a hard animal to understand. When you are happy, you can't understand why others are not. When you are sad, there never seems to be a light to guide you to freedom. It is so very different for each person, and we cannot know the pain that was in Robin's soul. I have had friends that did not know how to battle the fog, and have lost that battle. It was painful to experience it first hand. For those closest to him, I don't have to imagine how hard this is for them.

I have had to battle depression in my own personal life. Sometimes the whole world just feels as if it is crashing down, and that there is no escape. I never got to that point where I could end it all, mostly because I have always held out hope that we would get more Star Wars movies, or even a good Matrix sequel, but I will not for a moment second guess anyone that we have lost.

Our society has put the scarlet letter effect on anyone that has any kind or level of mental illness. For years we have called people crazy or insane in order to make ourselves feel better, but all this has done is demean those that need our help, our love, and most of all, our understanding and compassion. We have to stop our knee jerk reactions that cause those that need our help the most to withdraw into the shadows, away from the world. Far too often, they lose the battle because they feel that they are so very alone.

Mental illness is something that needs to be brought into the light; we need to stop fearing it, and stop pretending it is something that other people have. How many of our family, friends, and those that feel like both, do we have to part with, before we change our ways?

We have lost Robin Williams, and it is hurting us. We were all his family. He was more than just an entertainer, he was our brother, our father, our son, our friend. It pains us immensely to lose someone that we held so close. All of us knew him from somewhere. All of us will miss him from everywhere.

If you or someone you know is need of help or may be suicidal, please get help. I have lost too many friends to suicide, so this is my call to arms. Any hospital emergency room will be able to help you. Don't worry about the cost, your life is so much more important than that. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, or visit them on the web here.

Thank you for spending a few minutes with me. Pass this around if you think it will help anyone who might see it.

David S. Danna