That face? The one with the bright red ball on its nose? The one causing those children’s faces to beam for the first time in probably a long time?
That, somehow, is a face of depression.
We all have a scene we initially associate with Robin Williams. Mine is the video above.
I don’t think I’ve ever been more troubled or saddened by a celebrity’s death than when I was sitting at a computer last night and saw the news about Williams pop up on my Twitter timeline. It wasn’t like one man dying to me; it was a myriad of faces who I’ve come to love that seemingly had disappeared. But that’s misguided, because those faces last forever, especially the ones he so brilliantly portrayed.
The real face, the one that matters, is the one we no longer have here with us. Another took that one over. And that’s what troubles me.
I can’t say I’ve ever battled depression. Sure, I’ve been down a time or two. We all have. But to say I’ve consistently dealt with unhappiness in my own life would be a flat-out lie. I have friends, such as the remarkable Megan Armstrong (@meganKarmstrong on Twitter), who have seen darkness I hope to never encounter. The people like Megan, who have come out of that darkness to own it and be a champion for fighting it, are some of the most admirable individuals I can imagine.
Williams, unfortunately, could not come out of that dark place. And when I sit down to ponder that, I realize how much this disease can do. It frightens me.
How many of you did he pull out of some awful times with a simple joke? Or how about one of those trademarked manic freakouts he defined as a performer? Or maybe even a song with plastic dinosaurs as his group?
Maybe it wasn’t even a laugh that was the hand that yanked you out. Maybe it was just the dramatic, slow tug at every heartstring.
I could go on. I tweeted yesterday about multiple incidents I associate with this phenomenal artist, even when he was using a lobster above a pot as his canvas, saying, “I am not a crook. I am not a crook.” But this will never end if I continue. It won’t ease my discomfort that a man full of so much energy and passion for his art would end it all on his own. I shudder at the demons it takes to overpower that amount of sparks.
The only way I do know how any of this could be prevented is pretty simple. If you are at all depressed, hurt, or battling this monumental challenge of sadness too often, talk to someone. Get help. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. Contact me if you want. I may talk your ear off on sports, but I promise, I can be occasionally funny. I can try to help.
Laughter is something sacred to give and share in this world, one of the only cures that doesn’t take a scientific or medicinal form. Williams was like a tree of life for laughter, with each different role branching off into another person’s life to plant another hilarious seed. That will only continue to grow as more and more generations discover his genius. And yes, he was a true genius.
Pure, unfiltered joy filled the room that night. If only the man himself knew how much of that he provided so often. If only he saw all of the faces he lit up in his lifetime.
Rest in peace, Robin Williams. I keep hearing heaven has a beautiful course.