People being shocked that Robin Williams was depressed, quite frankly, shocks me. Why do so many still believe that those who are naturally funny, even to the point of it being qualified as a gift, can't be prone to bouts of sadness, just like anyone else? Further, how on earth are there still people - on earth - who ask such profoundly rhetorical questions like, "How could he be sad with all that money?" Really? Wake up. Happiness, it has been said, is not a fish that you can catch.
A listener sent me a quote that Robin Williams had made: "I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone." Blameful? Perhaps. But HONEST. A cry for help even. We live in a day and age where the funny person in your life who gets in a funk on a Friday night for no clear reason is deemed "high maintenance." A "drama queen/king."
We throw around the words "baggage" and "bratty," which either only succeeds in diminishing what that person is feeling or becomes a "cute" badge of honor, something they delight in seeing written on a coffee mug or t-shirt they're given.
Robin Williams taking his own life is a chilling illustration of just how insidious and overwhelming depression can be, but also - and more importantly - how lightly those around someone grappling with it can come to take it. Don't get me wrong: my heart goes out to his wife, who I'm sure feels some guilt, and has had her own struggles with his depression - asking herself why she wasn't enough, why he couldn't be happy, enjoy his immense success, etc. Other family members, and even friends, no doubt feel twinges of guilt as well. Someone you love falling in and out of depression can be exhausting and frustrating. You want there to be a quick fix, a magic pill (sadly, there are many of the latter, and they can only make matters worse); someone you love's depression can be...depressing.
Jimmy Kimmel tweeted his condolences, adding "If you feel sad tell someone." People do. In most cases, when someone is sad - especially to the point of depression - saying it isn't even necessary. It's obvious to those who love them.
Take someone's sadness seriously, dump the euphemisms like "high maintenance" and, while staying by someone's side 24/7 is impossible, keep an eye out for the signs you've come to recognize and when they rear their ugly head, call in the troops and take shifts.
I've snapped up my particular favorite Robin Williams role off YouTube for you to enjoy; everyone else will go with "Mrs. Doubtfire" or maybe even "The Birdcage," but for me it's