photo credit: Charles Haynes via photopin cc

photo credit: Charles Haynes via photopin cc

 

I happen to be taking a much needed nap when the news broke. I woke up to several texts and other notifications. As I was responding to each text in the order they came, I noticed a notification from a friend on Instagram who sent me a message. The picture I used for the message thread was a meme created with a still image of Robin Williams in his iconic role of Mrs. Doubtfire. The caption says, “HELLLLLLOOO.” My friend said, “Omg! This pic is so sad now.” I immediately knew what had happened. However, I didn’t know the “how” aspect until my friend told me.

Robin Williams passed away of an apparent suicide as he had been battling depression.

It always catches you off guard when someone passes, especially an artist, celebrity, and public figure you’ve enjoyed and admired since your childhood. You instantly think about that person’s life, work, and the impact they’ve had on people. The sad news definitely hits you harder when you hear about how that person passes, especially if it’s tragic.

Like millions of others, I feel a tremendous loss. Come on. “Hook”, “Mrs. Doubtfire”, and “Jack” were some of my favorite movies as a child! If anyone provided a sense of fantasy and escapism, it was Robin Williams. He could do and play anything and everyone. Convincingly, at that! He truly made you believe that he was a kid trapped in a grown man’s body or he was an old, English woman who cleaned houses for a living. He was one of the most talented and versatile people to ever walk the face of this earth.

What makes his passing even sadder is what caused it: suicide as a result of depression. It’s like being over someone’s house and seeing that they have a pest problem. You don’t want to address it or bring attention to it because it’s a sensitive issue and you don’t want to possibly ruffle any feathers or make someone feel embarrassed. So, it goes unaddressed.

I once heard someone say that comedians make some of the best dramatic actors because they have a lot of pain and issues they deal with or have dealt with and use humor as a way to either escape from it all or hide their issues from the masses. It all makes sense. It can be hard being that person who lots of people look to for entertainment and laughter. You’re always supposed to be “on” and keep the jokes going. You’re always supposed to be happy and all smiles. A lot of people never think about the toll it can take on a person or never look beneath the jokes to see where they originate or what’s actually happening with the person. Most of all, a lot of people don’t take time to see if the “joker” needs any relief themselves. They often primarily take. How do I know? I’ve been there.

More often than not, I’ve been the super strong one or the one who can tackle just about anything that’s given. I’m also known as “The Funny Guy” amongst my circles of friends. I’m always laughing and joking. It’s just a part of who I am. There have been instances where friends just expected me to be animated and make them laugh when I just wasn’t in the mood for whatever reason. Although I love being a pillar of support for others as well as their comedic relief, sometimes it can be draining, especially when that energy isn’t returned as much. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re selfish. Sometimes they just can’t give you what you give them or to the degree that you give it to them.

I also know what it feels like to be depressed and have self-destructing thoughts. Sometimes life’s burdens can be a bit much to handle. You’re under lots of pressure to perform well and meet or exceed expectations in every area of your life, whether it’s school, job/career, family, friends, or relationships. When you pair that with taking negative comments from others about what they deem to be wrong with you and not being good enough, the kinds of thoughts you can have are unimaginable and overwhelming. It’s even worse when you feel that you can’t talk about anything with anyone because either a) you have no one you can talk to period, b) you’re afraid no one can really help you, or c) you’re afraid of what others might think or say. So, you just keep everything hidden and think about finding a way out of it all.

Thankfully, my faith, strong mind, writing, music, and true friends have gotten me through dark times (and not all options were available at once). However, not everyone is fortunate enough to have any of those things. The untimely death of Robin Williams reminded me of my own experiences and the importance of being kind to others. Treat others the way you want to be treated and shower them with love even if they don’t appear to need it. It’s usually those with the biggest smiles and hearts that need the most care. Just take it from me.

Mr. Williams, I understand. May you rest in peace.

Your Brother in the Livin’ Like Maya Movement,

Herbert

About The Author

Herbert is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science in Advertising and currently resides in Chicago. When not doing consulting work, he enjoys writing, reading, volunteering, music, and television, among other things.