VIRGINIA, November 7, 2014 — Comparing Robin Williams to the proverbial ‘sad clown’ is a woeful understatement. Williams had everything to live for but early reports indicate the taking of his life was his own decision.
Reports suggest Williams struggled with life-long depression and like many depressed folks, self-medicated in a detrimental, unhealthy fashion. There are also some reports Williams may have suffered from a bi-polar disorder much in the same manner his oft-cited mentor comedian Jonathan Winters did.
Chronic depression or major depressive disorder stemming from genetics, chemical imbalance or environmental sources can be severely affected by comorbidity or combination of disorders such as bi-polar can and does kill.
Depression is s significant debilitating disorder that can leave a person in a state of not wishing to do anything at all, feeling completely hopeless and feeling a complete loss of self-esteem.
Many with severe depression have suicidal ideation over a period of years and at some point, feel the world is better off without them and act on their perceptions. A decision to end one’s own life is generally not spontaneous but a matter of “I’ve had enough” and thought out to some extent.
The average person who suffers with depression grow weary of hearing folks proffer such platitudes like “You’ve got to buck up”, “snap out of it”, “it’s your brain-decide differently”, Force yourself out of your funk”, “It’ll go away if you don’t pay attention to it” and a host of other suggestions that serve to further diminish a depressed mind.
Depression is a pervasive mental cloud of melancholy, sadness, feeling worthless and not wishing to engage in the activities of life.
Worse, a depressed person feels they are a burden on those they love and feel guilty for burdening their caretaker(s).
Williams had fame, fortune, admiration and substantial love in his life but the monkey on his back became a 800 lb. guerrilla he apparently could not shake off.
By all accounts, Williams could have existed in a living hell and after 63 years of torment, decided to end his suffering while thinking he is ending the suffering of those who were submersed in his disorder.
It must be considered how could a man who treasures and imparts such high levels of humor be so sad? Perhaps his humor was borne as a defensive measure. Williams may have suffered major depression for most or all if his life.
Williams love of funny and laughter while boiling in a thick vat of depression was a double blow and a cruel twist of fate.
In this light, we must forgive Robin Williams because his thinking was convoluted by mental disease, his suffering unbearable and he gave away too much of himself.
Sadly, at the end of the day, our beloved Robin Williams gave up. He was beaten by one of the least understood mental disorders which can strike anyone at any time.
Food for thought: The World Health organization (WHO) has determined by the year 2020, depression will be the world’s leading cause of disability.
Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based psychotherapist.