Reflection on Robin Williams and Depression

I was very saddened to hear of the loss of one of the greatest film comedians of our time – Robin Williams.  Like many others, I grew up watching him in films such as Mrs Doubtfire, Jumanji,  and Jack as well as delighting in his performances as Mork in the hit comedy series ‘Mork and Mindy’.  Not only was Robin Williams an incredibly talented comedian but he also showed great vulnerability in his performances in more serious roles in films such as ‘Good Will Hunting’, and even in his earlier roles such as ‘Jack’ where he plays a ten year-old child trapped inside a man’s body due to a rare ageing disorder.

His death is incredibly sad.  Not only has the world lost a huge talent who loved to make others’ smile and laugh despite hiding an incredible sadness within himself but his family lost someone they so deeply loved.  A wife has lost her husband and three children have lost a father.  But what is also sad and tragic is the ugliness that a minority have people shown in the wake of his death.  Reportedly, Zelda the daughter of the late star has left social media due to messages from cruel trolls.  Also, there have been many who have posted such cruel and horrible online messages because of the way he died.  It was established early on, that Robin Williams sadly took his own life after many years of battling demons such as alcohol addiction and depression.  In the wake of the news, many blamed Williams for his death stating that they had no sympathy as he was to their minds selfish and not thinking of his family.  Others asked themselves what did he have to be depressed about as he ‘seemed to have it all.’

Robin Williams in 'Patch Adams' a film that taught us that laughter is the best medicine
Robin Williams in ‘Patch Adams’ a film that taught us that laughter is the best medicine

But that is the thing about depression – it does not discriminate (Click to Tweet)

But that is the thing about depression – it does not discriminate.  Depression does not care if you are rich or poor.  Depression does not even care if you are famous.  Depression is a cruel illness which can affect anyone at anytime.  It is an illness that I am all to familiar with; it is an illness that has affected my life since my teenage years.  And add a diagnosis of a chronic illness such as Parkinson’s Disease, with which Robin Williams was reportedly diagnosed with before his death than depression, it could be argued that depression is a natural reaction.  Chronic illness, and particularly one of a degenerative condition can rob you  and changes everything that you knew – your health, mobility, relationships, career and the future to name but a few.  Chronic illness makes life uncertain and scary.

Chronic illness makes life uncertain and scary (Click to Tweet)

To those who accused Robin Williams  and those who commit suicide of not thinking of his family, this could not be further from the truth.  As someone who has been so down, even experiencing thoughts of suicide, then I know that in these situations the person are thinking of their family and loved ones – when depressed, and certainly when also experiencing a chronic illness which makes  you reliant on your loved ones you therefore feel that your family would be better off without you around.  Of course, it is not true, but depression is a beast that changes the way you think and therefore convinces you to think the worse.

Fortunately, I found support, especially the support available online within the spoonie community.  I came to the realisation that life is worth living despite living with a neurological condition.  Unfortunately, it was too late for Robin Williams.  If you are reading this and you feel depressed and suicidal then please reach out for help – tell somebody.  Life is worth living even if it may feel that it doesn’t right now.

In regards to Robin Williams, let’s remember him for the person he was – a person who had a raw talent and loved to make others laugh and be happy.  Let that be his lasting legacy and not the way he died.

To talk to someone in the UK  you can call ‘The Samaritans’:

  • 08457 90 90 90 * (UK)

Or contact Mind: The Mental Health Charity:


2 thoughts on “Reflection on Robin Williams and Depression

  1. I totally agree with what you said about depression affecting all types of people. I worked with mentally ill adults and kids before I became ill. I would tell them “Mental illness is an equal opportunity problem.” Unfortunately, we can all face the difficulties of mental illness. But I love what you said about getting support. Everyone needs support and community.

    • Thanks you so much for your reply and your lovely comments about my post. Yes, what you used to tell your clients is right – depression is something which can affect anyone. I think mental illness affects 1 in 4 people, but despite this vast number of sufferers it is still something which is still deeply stigmatised and those who suffer are judged negatively. But I just hope that blog posts like this help in making people think and be less judgemental

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