Robin Williams passed away last night, having allegedly taken his own life. Last night I posted my feelings on the loss on the Facebook page for the cinema I work at. It is represented below:
"Here at Cineworld Sheffield we are all gutted at the news of the death of comic actor Robin Williams. For many of us he was a part of our childhood, be it as Mork in TV sitcom Mork and Mindy, as a bloke in a dress as Mrs Doubtfire, as the King of the Moon in Baron Munchausen, as an inspiring teacher in Dead Poets Society, the Genie in Aladdin, or Theodore Roosevelt in Night at the Museum. For these and many other roles he has entertained us by making us laugh, cry, and care in equal measure. In roles as diverse as Popeye (a film which at least one of the team here has as a guilty pleasure), or as Perry in The Fisher King (possibly his finest role of his career), and in his stand up where his natural wit and bite could be used to the best impact.
As the great man said himself, “Death is nature's way of saying, "Your table's ready."”
Well, sir, you deserve a great feast.
RIP: Robin Williams. You brought smiles to millions of faces, and joy to hearts everywhere."
Sadly, the first reponse was a joke. Yes, within two minutes someone thought that after reading such a message, what they wanted to share was a sick joke. Maybe I am more upset at the joke as it was at the expense of an actor who I enjoyed from childhood onwards, and who, like myself, always put a smile on his face to cover up what he was really going through. Yes, as I have covered before depression is a factor in my life, and last night I saw the news that someone else finally lost the battle against themselves.
In the wake of the loss of Robin Williams, reporting on the circumstances which led to him taking his life have been varied. However ITV's This Morning's reporting on depression in the wake of Robin Williams' death is packed with ignorance and borderline offensive to sufferers everywhere.
To a schizophrenic, Eamonn said, ""You have schizophrenia, so you will understand, Robin was so many different people, all his different voices" - WOW! Just...WOW!
But that is not a patch on this gem of a quote, "He was much loved, famous, had a great career, how much more does someone need?" - way to not understand anything about mental illness.
A GP on the show even went so far to say, ""If you had diabetes, you wouldn't argue with taking insulin. But people who see me with depression resist anti-depressants" - Anti-depressants don't get to the root of the illness, they just nullify it and blank it out. Opting to numb the mind with drugs that have side effects, and can become addictive is NOT a solution - it is a temporary measure at most.
As someone who has spent the majority of his adult life battling depressive episodes, the level of ignorance around why someone would take their own life sickens me. It is not a selfish act either - think of how bad you must be where, despite the love of family and friends around you, you cannot see any way to escape except to end it all.
Put yourself in that situation for a moment, and imagine that your mind is telling you there is no other option left. Now imagine that 24 hours a day for weeks on end, and how your mind chooses during that time to twist what others tell you so you think everything people are doing around you is somehow sinister, and that everyone is fed up of your demanding nature. Imagine feeling so isolated from the world, even when in the middle of a party. Imagine interpreting someone buying you a drink as them trying to drug you so you get yourself into an accident.
That isn't even the worst of it. Those of you who have never suffered from depression (and I mean real depression, not just a couple of bad days) will never be able to genuinely understand how the mind can work so much against you. They will also never be able to see behind the mask of smiles that many of us sufferers put on each day, just so you don't tell us to, "Cheer up!" or "Snap out of it!" (seriously, those comments don't help).
No-one can truly know what Williams was going through, and why he saw this as the only solution. Some of us can relate to it, but we will never completely understand exactly what he was going through. What we can all do is, instead, remember the great work he did through his life, and use this news to stop attaching a stigma to mental illness, and try to understand it more. It is time to stop the wall of ignorance which prevents many of us from seeking help from friends and family during our darkest moments as we know we won't be taken seriously.