Robin Williams was an amazing actor and comedian. From the outpouring of love and sadness in social media on Monday, it was obvious that he brought so much joy and laughter to anyone and everyone he was around. Steven Spielberg said it best,
“Robin was a lightning storm of comic genius and our laughter was the thunder that sustained him.”
I grew up watching his movies, from Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire to Jumanji, Flubber, Bicentennial Man, Good Will Hunting, and Night at the Museum. He was also the voice of Batty in one of my all-time favorite movies as a kid, Ferngully: The Last Rainforest.
My all-time favorite performance of Robin Williams, though, was his comedic piece about golf. My family and I crack up at it every.single.time. Watch for yourself...*WARNING: obscene language*
Friends, family, and his PR rep confirmed that Robin Williams was suffering from depression at the time of his death. He even talked about his depression in a few interviews. That doesn't mean that he doesn't deserve to be grieved or that he was any less of a man/actor/comedian because of it. A lot of people suffer from depression. But depression and mental illnesses get a bad rap. So many people treat it as a choice one has made instead of as an actual illness. But they're wrong.
I struggled with depression a few years ago, and it was hard. I didn't want to participate in anything, I didn't want to see anyone, I didn't want to go to class or do anything I'd normally be up for. I despised having to go grocery shopping and leaving my apartment at all. I just wanted to wallow in my misery in bed and do absolutely nothing, talk to absolutely no one, and just be alone. I felt alone. I felt that no one could possibly understand what I was feeling. And when people asked what was wrong with me, I didn't have an answer. I couldn't say, "Oh, I'm just sad today for no apparent reason" or anything to that effect. I felt rejected and alone in more ways than I could even begin to describe. It was a very dark place to be, and I was scared.
I'll get more into my story another day, but this depression thing is real, and it's not something someone chooses. And today, I'm holding the world accountable. Friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, neighbors, anyone and everyone. If you know of someone that is struggling internally, don't be afraid to reach out to them. But don't judge them and make them feel worse, like they chose to be sad and miserable every single day. Encourage them. Let them know they're not alone, and that you're there for them, even if just to listen. Because I promise you, it helps. Maybe not a lot at first, but letting them know, time and time again, that you're there for them, they'll begin trusting you, that you actually mean it. You could save a life if only you would lend a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen and stop judging just because someone might be different than you. Newsflash: everyone is different than you. We're all unique, and we all suffer in some way. For some, it's internally against themselves.