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August


Robin Williams, Super Hero. Wednesday August 13, 2014

And so this morning I woke to the shocking news that Robin Williams has left this earthly planet. A loss. A huge loss. A talented and beautiful man. We all have a favourite film don't we? Whether it be his thought provoking performances or his funny ones, his madcap ramblings or his quiet thoughts that he made public, it cannot be denied that he wore himself on his sleeves, and his trousers, and his shirt. My life, for one, will be less. I adored it all. Like many, I could see pain underneath the smile. I could see regret within the eyes that did not always manage to maintain eye contact. I could see shame in his shadow. I do not claim to have walked a path anything like his, but, when you have pulled on the 'I'm entering the building' mask for many years you begin to recognise the make-up.

I like that his passing has been felt by so many. Worldwide. Everyone is shocked. Everyone talks of how happy he made them. One girl said that he made her happy over and over and that the first time he made her sad was 'his' last time. He made everybody happy. Happy with humour but also happy with acceptance. If he can be so happy, in the face of his demons, then so can we.

Something else I have seen much through social media today is phrases like "omg, but he was so happy", or "why couldn't he just tell someone he felt so bad", or "please people, if you feel so bad you get to that place, please just call a counselling service and save yourself". I've read "poor, poor man", "how desperate", "how sad to find yourself in a place where you have no options". Whilst all of this is true it is not right.

(Before I continue, I am not condoning suicide at all, if indeed it was.)

It occurred to me that perhaps the "stigma that surrounds mental illness" is a stigma because of these phrases. Whilst they are meant with love and with compassion I feel these phrases only compartmentalise mental illness when it needs acceptance. For Robin Williams to have lived with his demons for an indeterminable length of time is truly heroic. He has formed an enormously successful career, held down the day job, worked through relationships with people, drugs and alcohol, parented, been public, been private, all whilst wearing the enormous coat of depression. It is an enormous task. It can be like holding a tsunami, using every fibre in every muscle not to give in to its strength. That takes equal strength. It takes superpower! He has held the tsunami for year upon year. He held it back trying to prevent it from taking him under and instead of saying "poor guy, it got him", perhaps we should be saying "On my god, what a hero! He held that tsunami for so long, he held it away from people as much as he could, some people got sprayed, some got soaked, but millions felt the sun instead of the water, he held it on his back and he did it for years."

He is my hero. He has super powers.

Love from The room above the garage.
A Moodscope member.


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Comments

Di Murphey Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 12:57am

Dearest Room Above the Garage ~
I absolutley adore your description of Robin: "For Robin Williams to have lived with his demons for an indeterminable length of time is truly heroic."

Yes, he did live with them. And, he made fun of them, made them appear palatable, doable, someone you might live next to. And, he allowed us into his world of pain and nightmares.

While I am beyond-words-deeply-saddened at the loss of Robin, I am exquisitely touched by your legacy of writing, his body of work, his lessons left for all of us, to choose or not to choose, to pay attention.
Warmest regards to the Room Above the Garage,
Di

Scattered Glass Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 6:10am

I am so glad you said this, it is so true. The last thing you can do when you feel so depressed you want to end it, is to reach out. I found a facebook group called defeat depression and I nearly posted on the wall. You can't. It is a disability, it is like saying to someone physically disabled, you can beat your paraplegia, or your autism. It is said to cancer victims, who are portrayed as fighters, then losers when they die! Some days I feel ok, other days I want to die, hide, run away, all three. You are so right, it is about acceptance. Saying reach out, is just another way of saying, snap out of it, and I know that people mean well, but they just don't know what it is like.

Thank you again for being a voice of reason and compassion.

Mary xxx

G Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 6:18am

Your thought echoes mine: that he had fought depression for so many years. That's the first thought when I read the news. And I wonder if any people without mental illness could imagine how tough the journey was. Thanks for highlighting Robin's will and remind the rest of us that we aspire to continue this struggle with our superpower.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 7:04am

He was a comic genius and that often accompanies depression. Poor man, he was so brave and, as you say, truly heroic. Suicide can be so alluring when one is deeply depressed. I have sympathy for those who choose and succeed, only they know the blackness that leads them to that decision. Thank you Robin for giving us so much pleasure while you were in so much pain.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 7:19am

Indeed it was heroic of him to hold it back for so many years. But what is true courage is to say "help me, I cant hold this tsunami any longer". Many of us have the power to hold back a tsunami, but not all of us have the possibility to ask for help.

He has super powers and I admire him, but for me its never heroic to commit suicide. Its to ask for help, getting better, falling back again and keep on going.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 7:46am

Sometimes you get to a stage where the pain is so great, when all you want to do is end the pain and asking for help is too much. I don't think this post is saying he was heroic to commit suicide but that he was heroic to battle on for so long.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 7:50am

Robin Williams, what a talented man?? a great loss to the world.
I applaud his life & remember him with affection & smiles but realise that he struggled through it all. He gave so much while his demons tried to take him over, what a genius. Depression is such a cruel condition, invisible to most but always there waiting to consume us. Miss you Robin ??

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 8:20am

Thank you so very much, RATG. You have expressed beautifully what many of us feel about Robin Williams and what we could feel about our own struggles but rarely do. I am very sure that this is the most sensitive and compassionate obitary of him I will read. Thank you.

Claire Catterall Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 9:02am

Thank you that was wonderfully put. It's shifted my focus from being sad about his death to being happy he lived as long and as much as he did.

e Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 9:14am

well said. no doubt he chose life every step of the way until he could chose it no longer...you are right about his heroism.

Julia Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 9:16am

Thank you RATG. I am away at the moment so time is limited for accessing the internet. But lovely to see you in print on the daily blog but so sad it is about Robin William's depression and his decision that he's had enough.

Les Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 9:54am

Great Stuff RATG.......

I believe part of his legacy will be once again opening the world to challenges of mental health - Tony Hancock (44) / Kenneth Williams (62) along with Millican / Fry / Walliams / Cook / Cleese / Dee et al

I wrote a long Robin poem yesterday - here is just the start of it.

"A brilliant man of endless talent.
Took his life in his own dark way.
An actor who could bring such life,
A light has gone out in the world today,

He changed my life,
With the films he made.
Good Will Hunting,
The best in that decade.

He played the psychologist,
Who would help others.
Will, so bright and yet lost,
Hiding his talent under the covers.

"It's not your fault",
Was the crucial line.
He repeated it to Will,
Time after time.

To watch the film,
Helped me with my pain.
That sequence with Will,
I cried again and again."

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 11:06am

Room above the garage, this is so beautifully written.

Tere Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 12:23pm

When our daughter heard the news, she called me, sobbing. To me, she gave him the greatest compliment in the world: he helped her understand her father. See, her father is a comedian. Only I can see the deep depression under it. When our daughter realized there are other silly people in the world, she realized her father IS silly. He's funny, and warm, and feels deeply. Just as Mr. Williams obviously did. We are all mourning him. He was OUR Princess Diana. Really. He died just as horrifically, and we will miss him terribly. There will not be a huge funeral, but we will hold him just as deeply in our hearts, and will tell our children's children about him. We will look for Mork and Mindy episodes. We will search out his movies. We will show how much and how deeply we cared about him AND his work.

Only people with deep depression, *I* believe, can be that funny. It's a coping mechanism. I see it in myself, I see it in my husband, I see it everywhere.

Rest in final peace, Mr. Williams. Please know that your life meant something to the world.

Suzy Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 12:43pm

I really felt this post RATG. Thank you. Also appreciated the comments of Scattered Glass.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 12:57pm

A friend expressed the following about suicidal feelings...
'I've often wondered if thinking about it brings a measure of relief because it's like we can see a way out - albeit a temporary one, plus it almost gives us a measure of control back, it's like saying you will defeat the depression but, of course, it's totally topsy-turvy because defeating depression via suicide you are only defeating yourself..'

I really appreciated those expressions because it was nice to know that many (probably more than we can ever know) ache for a way out at times but that, thankfully, most find a way through. It's so true, unless you have experienced that level desperation it can't be explained away or measured or put down to a simple 'Get help!' At that moment in time the depressed one really truly believes that the world would be better off without him/her.

The effort of continuing can be monumental for a severely depressed person. You're right, Robin Williams was a super hero for persevering like he did.

May we all persevere too.

Jackie Jones Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 2:13pm

I was really saddened by RW's death especially as it was a suicide. Because depression was mentioned, I looked him up, & sure enough, he was diagnosed as bipolar. I had guessed that he was..On facebook I posted a link to a list of famous people that have suffered from bipolar - Amy Winehouse, Stephen Fry, Nina Simone, Sinead O'Connor, Frank Sinatra, Beethoven, Elgar, Russel Brand, Jim Carrey.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_with_bipolar_disorder The list isn't comprehensive by any means. But I can't help but feel that their brilliance as performers and artists is because of their bipolar not in spite of it.. Surely anyone who suffers from moodswings, knows what it is to feel that life isn't worth living.. But the other side of that coin is, that we also what it is to feel totally alive - a feeling which I experience as regularly as the other.. As a bipolar, they embody extremes of life, that most 'ordinary' people don't ever experience, which I think goes into their brilliant performances. If a bipolar's moodswings are far more extreme than mine, then I can only wonder at how many have survived their chronic lows.. RW did well to last to 63..

Most of the famous people on the list have also admitted to some form of addiction - some more famously than others - I wonder if any research has been done on that? Being bipolar and a coke addict can't get more extreme!

Richard Harrison Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 2:16pm

Do not forget Kurt and Nick Drake.
Like Williams, they were shining lights.
The paradox? To persevere is to fight to the end.
We teach our children this in sports, right?
I am very fortunate.
Moodscope, you are treading a fine line here.
R

Claire MMG Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 2:38pm

A beautiful tribute to the wonderful Robin Williams, room....You are a very talented writer, make sure your nurture that talent. x

Les Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 4:59pm

Hi Richard

Picking up the sports analogy if I may.

80% of children have stopped all sports by the time they are 14 (US research) as they know they cannot win! No perseverance there.

And so the obesity grows due to the win/lose mentality. People will persevere if there is something to persevere for.......for me, after 23 years of depressive bouts (up to 6 months) and one suicide attempt, broken marriage, lost career et al......????

Sport - especially team sports is about learning about values, teamwork, sharing, enjoying and personal responsibility. Team sports if taught well, teaches what academic subjects do not. Interdependency not independency.

Today the Head teachers association announced that they are going to create their own league tables which will include sport and the arts.....as they seek to grow more mature young adults. While the government in general simply want to show our academic abilities.

No point in 'persevering to the end' - system, family, community, person - if the end is the death of too many things or people.

If Robin had persevered - we would not now be talking about the challenges of mental health - as much as we would wish he had not taken his life. The talk of being selfish to commit suicide is now rife in the media after Alan Brazil on Talk Sport said it was 'selfish'.

Like Spike Milligan he could have persevered and died a mixed up lost and lonely man.
"I have got so low that I have asked to be hospitalised and for deep narcosis (sleep). I cannot stand being awake. The pain is too much... Something has happened to me, this vital spark has stopped burning – I go to a dinner table now and I don't say a word, just sit there like a dodo." Spike Milligan

I believe Moodscope should offer different views and thus at times tread a fine line....you have to be comfortable with discomfort, if you are to grow, learn or progress...person, family, organisation, country or world.

The more we talk about opinions of mental health the more we will learn.

RIP Robin Williams

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 5:03pm

Thank you for writing such a lovely tribute to Robin Williams and starting the difficult conversation about suicide. I wish that those who feel they have had enough of life would find the strength once again to carry on further. By taking their life they hurt tremendously the people in their lives who cherish them and are left missing them and feeling awful guilt for not seeing the signs and being able to help.

My brother and I both have mental health issues. He has been hospitalized as a result a few times but I am fortunate to have only been housebound for a few weeks at a time when the bad uglies have been aroused. A few years ago he was in a very bad state and was suicidal. Thank goodness he knew that he could not leave his two sisters behind without telling us what was happening to him. He begged us to let him go. We were able to get him to medical help and back to a stable point. I cannot imagine what it would be to lose him like that.

My heart goes out to the Williams family for the pain they must be suffering.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 5:29pm

RATG - Had been trying to put it into words - you found them - Yesterday I did tell my husband that but for his love I probably would not have had the strength to carry on... "normal" people don't see depression as a killer like eg cancer - no, you can't pull yourself together when you are than deep... you just have to grab at what is there if you can bob up above the waves - I was lucky and Paul was there! Robin was not so lucky (this time). BIG HUG to all who need it!
Sue

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 6:06pm

I don't understand the condemnation of suicide as "selfish". When someone commits suicide, as opposed to being suicidal, they have gone beyond any ability to rationalise their emotions and subsequent actions and, in my view, deserve compassion.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 7:20pm

This is very thoughtful and true....he is a super hero for fighting it for so long....when someon dies of cancer, often the obituary reads that they died after a long valiant fight with their disease...... I have appreciated the articles reminding everyone that depression is every bit as much of a disease...it is not a moral stigma....or demons any more than a pernicious at this time I curable disease....he was a super hero..he valiantly fought his disease for most of his lifetime and also fight to keep it away from the rest of us..... God Bless Robin Williams......

Melanie Lowndes Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 9:26pm

Lovely post RATG - Thank you!

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 9:30pm

There is nothing selfish about suicide:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katie-hurley/theres-nothing-selfish-about-suicide_b_5672519.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 9:49pm

Thank you Di :-)

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 9:51pm

Beautifully honest x.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 9:56pm

'Robin's will'...I like that G. I have a good friend and I've always called him G. Muppet news flash.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 9:58pm

Very true words.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 9:59pm

I'd say he asked for help many, many times, received it and worked through it.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:02pm

Thank you very much Marydoll...I'm complimented indeed.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:03pm

I'm smiling about that.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:06pm

^ this! 'He chose life until he could choose it no longer'...

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:07pm

Hello, and thank you.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:09pm

Hello Les, please can we see the full version? Glad to 'see' you.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:11pm

Thank you, it's only my honest feelings but saying that means a lot.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:13pm

Genius indeed. An overused word but not in his case.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:16pm

I think similar...the depth of talent comes from a deep place.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:17pm

Thank you Suzy.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:20pm

Very interesting thoughts from your friend.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:22pm

Addiction is often in the mix...chicken and egg I wonder...

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:31pm

It would be me, not moodscope, treading a line. I don't see it as a line, merely an opinion that for mental health to become accepted, as other illnesses, we should be viewing his passing with the same respect and dignity that we would for a diagnosed terminal illness. The method of his passing is horrific and deeply sad, but irrelevant.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:33pm

That had made me smile :-)

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:35pm

I wish each of you strength. A loving family.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:37pm

Paul gets the 'chocolate of the day' from me :-)

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:38pm

100%

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:42pm

Precisely this. He battled valiantly. And that has my respect.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:43pm

:-)

Anonymous Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 10:52pm

I've never done this before and so apologise for not knowing blogspot etiquette. If I've over replied then i'll learn! For now, thank you for having comments and opinions, it's the stuff we build upon. The compliments mean a lot to me. Thank you for it. Sleep well Robin Williams, sleep well my fellow water holders and...nanu nanu.

Les Wed, Aug 13th 2014 @ 11:24pm

What feels right for you IS right for you...... :-)

I asked Caroline to send you the full version...I think it wold be too long for a blog.

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for." - John Keating, Dead Poets Society (1989)

Anonymous Thu, Aug 14th 2014 @ 12:05am

Top man^

Anonymous Thu, Aug 14th 2014 @ 2:50am

Amen Roomie. This is a life threatening illness. He battled it valiantly for decades. This talented, generous brother of OURS will be sorely missed for many years.

If you are feeling hopeless tonight, please call someone. You belong to us too.
Margaret
Pgh

Scattered Glass Thu, Aug 14th 2014 @ 9:16am

thank you, that is kind of you to say.

Julia Thu, Aug 14th 2014 @ 9:28am

I am not an expert on suicides and the only fact I do know about it stems from working in prisons where suicide was catching. If one girl took her life, for sure, others would follow. Perhaps Richard was thinking this when he wrote that Moodscope was treading a fine line. This comment in no way detracts from the sadness of robin Williams death. Personally I agreed with Richard. But Les' point about kids and sport was an interesting one. I really do think one should perservere with one's life as there is always a chance it will get better. But who am I to know? I have never been suicidal.

Anonymous Thu, Aug 14th 2014 @ 3:06pm

Lots of talk about fighting demons. If we are fighting demons someone out there must be able to help us heal ourselves. Is depression a spiritual illness? Might prayer ministry help us?
Creative people seem to be more vulnerable to depression. How can we be helped to avoid falling prey to depression in the first place. Might it be that society looks very closely at the way we are nurtured? Yes, right from the beginning before we were born. Creative people are sensitive and need to be treated with respect, kindness and gentleness. Away with aggressiveness full stop!
RIP Robin

Anonymous Mon, Sep 1st 2014 @ 10:33am

wow amazing way of talking about Robin Williams. How true it is there with the way he was able to swing from one person to another. I loved his movies and will sadly miss the wonderful person he was. A shame he didn't have the right people helping him in the medical profession. I feel so lucky to have the help and support I do have above all God is there too.

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