But I don’t mind
‘Cause all comedians suffer
On the outside
Try so hard to look tougher
But there’s a cost
When you radiate sunshine
And dreams get lost
Like keys get left on the counter
“All Comedians Suffer” by Neil Finn
This song rattled in my head when I heard the news about Robin Williams. I thought to myself, how could someone who radiated so much sunshine succumb to the grip of gloom? How could his dreams have gotten lost? How could he have killed himself?
I guess the pain was just too much.
In hindsight, I guess the signs were there that he suffered from depression. He battled addiction (self-medication). And I can list several hyper-creative people who have battled mental illness. Fertile soil grows great weeds as well as great crops. But last night still came as a shock. A shock that really left me, well, depressed myself.
I guess it’s easy to ask, “With all the bad news in the world why we should care?” Well, it’s BECAUSE of all the bad news. The world is a frightening place. ISIS, Ebola, war in the Mideast, the turmoil in Missouri, the economy — you name it. How could the world lose someone who has provided so much joy? Particularly now? We need MORE people who bring light and joy into this dark world, not less.
I just wish someone could have helped Robin Williams find joy at that moment of his darkest hour.
Depression is a sneaky thief that lies you as it pulls a shroud over your eyes. I know. It lied to me, too. The year after I was diagnosed with cancer was the most miserable time of my life. Anxiety, fear and gloom joined together to cripple me. I was terrorized to a standstill. It’s hard to describe it, really, because it was reality for me. My world was in chaos yet it seemed so normal. So painful. So overwhelming. This lie was reality to me. Thankfully, the storm passed because I got help. I made changes that made incremental improvements. Joy returned to my life. If you see me out running a million miles, you now know why.
But the bottom line is this: Mental illness shouldn’t be stigmatized; it should be treated. Williams wasn’t crazy. He was ill. If he had had cancer, high blood pressure, lung disease, rickets or any other disease, we wouldn’t think twice about him seeking help. Mental illness isn’t just in someone’s head. It’s not selfishness. It’s your brain lying to you. There are treatments. There are ways of getting people help. I know many good people who won’t seek that help because they think it will cost them their jobs or that people will think they’re “nuts.” Some insurance plans won’t even cover therapy. This has to end.
If you know someone with depression, reach out to them. Love them. Get them the help they need.
Me? I’m going to celebrate the force of nature that was Robin Williams. I’m going to watch Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poet’s Society, Mrs. Doubtfire and Good Will Hunting. I’m going to appreciate an amazing life. One that has been snuffed out way too soon.