Robin Williams was found dead this morning in his home according to law enforcement officials in Northern California. It appears he took his own life. He was 63. Famous for his work in television and film, Williams had battled depression throughout his life. Including struggling with drugs and alcohol for many years. His family has stated that he has been suffering from a particularly severe bout of depression recently.
So many of the entertainers we love suffer from this dark disease. Many self medicate with drugs and alcohol but often it is to quiet the demons that haunt them. British actor and comedian Stephen Fry has been very public with his struggles with depression and has admitted that he has been close to suicide at various times. Wil Wheaton is also very public about his struggles with anxiety and depression.
While anxiety is far more my constant companion, I’ve spent time in the darkness of depression. I still find myself in the pit from time to time. It is a very hard place to climb out of. Well meaning friends say, “oh you’re so strong, you’ll be fine” but it’s not something that’s under your control. It’s something that overtakes you and then casts a filter over everything you see and hear. It colors your perceptions so you can’t see the light that is always there. Once you emerge, you suddenly remember what hope feels like but until you get there no amount of self-discipline can help you. At various times you may need medication, therapy or even just an insanely strong circle of friends who hold on to you while the storm tries to take you away. Understand though this is not something you have to face alone, nor should you. Harvey Fierstein said it best in his Facebook status this evening:
“Please, people, do not fuck with depression. It’s merciless. All it wants is to get you in a room alone and kill you. If you are feeling depressed reach out, scream out, make sure someone takes hold of you and helps until you are well enough to help yourself.”
The demons won in their battle for Robin Williams’ soul. They don’t have to. The best way to honor him is to help someone fighting the same battle or asking for help if you’re the one fighting. You’re not alone. Don’t let the demons win.