When the laughter dies

Entertainers, good ones, draw you in and make you feel a connection to them. You may feel angry at a character they play or terrified by them in an all too believable role as a villain. They may touch your heart through a moving and emotional scene or raise your spirits with humour at your lowest times. This connection is usually deeper when you can relate to the actor/entertainer or his character on some level. Today, a master at reaching out to his audience through the screen, left us. Today Robin Williams took his own life and the shock I feel is overwhelming. His often manic humour reached me because I understood the desperate need for love and happiness. The golden chalice he always seemed to be chasing but never seemed to really reach. He was able to touch my heart with his truly tender nature in movies like Patch Adams, What Dreams May Come, Good Morning Vietnam and even the goofy, Mrs. Doubtfire. The moments of raw vulnerability always reminded me that the person laughing the hardest can often be the person hurting the deepest. Today the world learned that behind the crazy, non- stop humour was a truly tortured soul. I always felt it there, running only slightly below the surface. I felt it and I understood it. I related to the desperate need for love and acceptance and the terrible belief of never being quite good enough, never really being loved because of the simple fact of not being worthy of love- unloveable. I saw this in Robin Williams, I felt it in my heart. I knew he struggled with addiction and I knew this was probably a symptom of depression. I am no expert but like can often recognize like.

The hardest part for me today is realizing that all that comforts in the world, all the money and adoration were no match for that vicious bitch, depression. Millions loved him, millions enjoyed him, but it wasn’t enough. What is enough? I had hoped he had conquered his demons. I had hoped that he had finally recognized that he was worthy of love and admiration. With the whole world telling him he was wonderful how could Robin Williams not feel like he could accomplish anything? The reality that came crashing down today is that he couldn’t face even one more day. Couldn’t see how loved he was by so many, couldn’t bask in all of the beauty in his life. I had hoped he had broken free, was one of the lucky ones to escape the terrible mental prison but it’s shackles held him like indestructible chains. If scientists ever figure out how to intentionally plunge someone into the throes of depression there will be no need for concrete penitentiaries, the criminals can all be locked away in their own private, inescapable hell.

It devastates me to realize that this battle continued for Robin Williams, through so much professional and financial success, money truly couldn’t buy him happiness. At 63 years old he finally gave up the fight. The idea of fighting that long exhausts my soul. The thought of struggling for that long… it’s too much.

All I can hope is that he has finally found peace.

That’s when I realized I’m part of the problem. Not because I remind you. But because I couldn’t join you. So I left you alone. Don’t give up, okay? -Robin Williams as Chris Nielsen in What Dreams May Come

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6 thoughts on “When the laughter dies

  1. Depression is an encompassing disease completely consumes it’s sufferers. Looking in from the outside…its not an affliction you can see, unless you are paying close attention and know what to look for. Daily struggles to get out of bed for fear of what is going to crush me today..can I get through it?
    An example that made me tune in recently, a very good friend of mine lost his son earlier this year. I can see and have heard him struggle to carry on for the rest of his family. He found it to be to much, preparations were made by him to join his son…but, on his way to execute his plan, he had one moment of clarity and asked for help. For this I am thankful. He is getting the help he needs to cope with overwhelming grief and pain. What happens after that? It is true what they say, some of the most hyper & funniest people you meet are the one’s who seem to be hurting the most. I am forever cautious when I hear myself or others begin that manic, hyper & energetic comedic routine begin….energy seems endless, you ramble, chuckle and make others feel good through laughter from what seems a never ending energy supply because what you are feeling inside is unexplainable sadness…its a show to the outside to hide whats going on inside. What people who are not inflicted with this horrible incurable illness need to remember is this one thing…what goes up…inevitably, comes down. Be there to support the person who has entertained you in one of their low-high moments. Look for change in appearance or behavior. Makeup on a woman who doesn’t usually wear cosmetics, is often a mask to hide behind. Addictions, trying to put temporary bandaid on your pain. Weight fluctuations, insomnia and isolation are only a few of the many signs to watch out for…rarely will the afflicted ask for help, because, often…we don’t know we need it or how/who to ask for help.

    • So very true, Stacy. The signs are there but often overlooked. I’m glad your friend got help. I can’t imagine the pain he is suffering from having lost his son. How very brave of him to go on. I’ve often said I don’t think I would survive that. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.
      I do believe that the more we talk about depression the better it is for everyone; those that suffer the condition and those that suffer with having a loved one in that kind of pain. It’s always a relief to know you are not alone.

  2. Yes it is. So misunderstood. No we are not crazy…Yes, I have taken my med today…so sick of the outside uneducated ignorance. We are simply overwhelmed and need help to create the path to finding answers. Someone to lean on…hug…bitch at or just listen to us. Everyone has depression periods…its when you can not get out of those “slumps” that you need medical intervention. Acknowledging and asking the simple question “Hi there…how are you today”? Could very well be the most important question you ever ask.

  3. Beautiful words. Im from Uruguay im not a native english speaker so im going to be short on this one.
    Eventhough i was just another fan, wiliiams is the only actor who touched my heart several times with his laughter, and kindness.
    I felt only love and compassion coming from him, And when i knew he killed himself i cried a lot, and everynight after i come from work, i put some movie and i cry and cry all the time for him.
    Somehow he was so empathising man that i felt his death badly.
    With him gone, i felt that my last piesce of childhood its gone with this beautiful soul.
    I only wish that god protect him and give him all the love and acceptance he desesperatly needed.

    • He did elicit deep feelings from so many, myself included. He seemed to have such a big heart and a kind spirit. I cried for him too. I wish he could have felt all the love people had for him.
      Thank you for reading my post and for your comment.

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