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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Good Morning, Robin

 

 

robiniwilliams

 

It’s now 5:20 a.m. and I’ve been awake for nearly an hour. Like most who heard or read the news yesterday that one of the most prolific actors and comedians ‘left the building’ by his own hand, I have experienced a myriad of emotions. My initial reaction- as my father always uttered when a loved one died, was “Ah, no.” It was as if someone had reached in and twisted my gut. Although I had never met the man in person, he seemed familiar since he initially entered my home in the form of a loveable, quirky space dude named Mork. Perhaps I felt a kinship with the character as someone who told her parents that she was ‘an alien baby left on their doorstep.’

His movies never failed to move me. Although I likely have watched most of them and enjoyed those that were Hollywood hits such as Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook, Good Morning, Vietnam, The Dead Poet’s Society and Patch Adams, it was the more esoteric that really touched me: Moscow on The Hudson, Toys,  What Dreams May Come and Bicentennial Man.  Each of those roles showed a different side of the man; his depth and range as an actor.

I remember watching an HBO special many years ago in which he flipped and flitted from one character to the next while guzzling bottle after bottle of water as sweat poured forth from him. He must have had a dozen of them on a table next to him. I wondered if he really did have that many characters within him and if he could truly tell who the real Robin was.

Last week, he came to mind and I told that story and commented that he likely experienced the symptoms of bi-polar disorder as had his mentor, Jonathan Winters. When I heard that he had voluntarily re-entered treatment for substance abuse, I cheered for him, since he said that he did it to avoid relapse. From  an article in the Huffington Post:

Williams has struggled with substance abuse since the 1980s. He previously admitted to cocaine and alcohol addiction and entered rehab in 2006 for  alcoholism after 20 years of sobriety. He later told ABC’s Diane Sawyer that his falling off the wagon was “very gradual.”

“It’s [addiction] — not caused by anything, it’s just there,” he said in a 2006 interview. “It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK.’ Then, the next thing you know, it’s not OK. Then you realize, ‘Where am I? I didn’t realize I was in Cleveland.'”

Depression and addiction can be among the most insidious diseases, confounding those who experience them and even those of us who are trained to treat them. They are masters of illusion, convincing those who live with the symptoms, that reality is one way when it is indeed, another.

Who knows what went through Robin’s mind when he made the decision to end his life? Was it a sense of darkness so profound that no amount of levity could burst its way through? Had he simply been a witness to all the joy he brought others throughout his career and not absorbed enough of it to sustain his own life force energy? Did he not know how loved he was by his family, friends and fans?

“Death is nature’s way of saying, “Your table’s ready.” May you eat, drink and be merry, Robin and may your cup always overflow with love.

Photo credit: MediaNews Group

 

 

 

 

  • Ilanna Sharon Mandel

    An open letter from
    someone who understands suicide

    Yesterday
    an icon died. Robin Williams died of an ‘apparent’ suicide. Today there is a
    rush of articles on the Internet about suicide prevention, trauma counselling,
    how to help a friend, etc. They will continue for a while, but then the sadness
    will subside and everyone will go on with their lives. I want to make a plea as
    someone who copes with suicide ideation, which Robin Williams probably did as
    well. It’s about that feeling we get when we know we’re not coping; the ideas
    flood our bodies and bounce around our minds like tennis balls trying to push
    their way through our minds. Everything begins to compete for attention.

    Yes, there
    is therapy. Yes, there are suicide hotlines. As one who knows both of them
    well, I can tell you that they work. Encourage people to talk to someone. Reach
    out. However, even when we do, there are those inevitable moments when we’re
    alone with our own thoughts and feelings. We can even be married with kids and
    still feel alone, or you can be on your own, and the feelings come. They stifle
    me; overwhelm me; whisper in my ears all the doubts I have about my life. The
    doubts creep in and then the sadness creeps over my body like an alien
    invasion.

    I don’t say
    there is nothing to do. There is, because I’m still here. Even though I think
    about it almost every day, my friends and my therapist help to keep me grounded
    in the world. They encourage me to find a reason to be here – to stay here. I
    deal with a lot in my daily life (as many do); crushing poverty, chronic pain,
    and a constant ache in my heart as to how my life turned into this situation.
    There are moments I believe I can make it through, but there are many moments
    when I’m in doubt. The problem with suicide ideation is that it eats away at
    your confidence. It keeps pulsating at the back of your brain – death would be
    better than this. “Why suffer this pain? Death is peace”. Perhaps it is. Perhaps not. I don’t know what
    death is. None of us do, but I know that it haunts me in ways it doesn’t for
    people who never think about suicide as I do.

    So, what can the world do for people like me? If you have a friend who copes with this,TALK to them. Don’t be afraid to listen. You don’t have to come up with the
    answers. Just listen damnit. We only want to be heard. Sometimes a big hug is
    even all we need. To feel loved, even for those brief moments. Don’t scold
    someone and tell them they’re being foolish. Don’t tell them that everyone has
    problems. Yes, everyone does, but that isn’t helpful. Listening in a kind,
    compassionate, non-judgmental way is helpful. Let the person know you’re their
    friend no matter what.

    Yes, we talk more openly about mental illness. Yes, we know it’s an illness and not
    something to be ashamed of, but there is still a stigma around it no matter
    what we say. It’s there, all the time surrounding us. This is why I’ve stayed
    silent. Until now. Now, maybe I’ll start talking about it. Maybe I’ll save
    someone’s life besides my own.

    I hope, in some way, this letter will help people to understand. I write this in the hopes
    of helping others to know what those of us who think about suicide experience
    each day of our lives. But, each day we’re here there is hope, and hope is what
    I live for.

    • Edie Weinstein

      Thank you, Ilanna, for your wisdom and insight into the topic that many fear diving into. I am glad that you are still here, making the world a better place <3

  • Yvette Muise

    Thank you Ms Weinstein.
    Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW
    “…nature’s way of saying, “Your table’s ready. ”

    yes, it absolutely is .

    • Edie Weinstein

      He was also quoted as saying “Spring is nature’s way of saying ‘Let’s party!’

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