My first encounter with Robin Williams was as Genie in Aladdin. He was my favorite character. I connected with the loud, erratic craziness that made Genie. As an unmedicated, hyperactive child, I sometimes felt like a screaming blue giant in a room full of cringing Aladdins.
I ran into him again in Mrs. Doubtfire and again in Jumanji, a movie I watched over and over again. Little me loved Robin Williams. He became a part of my childhood.
As I got older, I watched What Dreams May Come, which still stands as one of my favorite films, and it cemented Williams on my favorite actors list.
I can’t say I’ve seen all his movies, but I can say that I love his characters in all the ones I’ve seen, and I always gave a movie with his name attached a watch. He’s never failed to make me laugh or cry or scare the crap out of me (I don’t think I’ve gotten my photos developed at a store since One Hour Photo. He put a whole movie to a fear I’d had for along time).
And Good Will Hunting, I cry every time he talks about his wife so passionately. Every.Time.
Hearing he died was heartbreaking. I’d never met him, but it kind of felt like a distant relative had passed or someone I used to be really close to. I teared up reading what his daughter wrote and other people who knew him personally.
I have been appalled by how some of the media is covering it. I don’t think it was necessary to give the details of his death beyond it being a suicide. It’s not our right to know things beyond that; that news serves no purpose but to invade a very personal and sad space he last existed in and shows just how far behind we are in accurately handling mental illness.
I am again flabbergasted at the ignorance of those who’ve never gone through depression but still feel like they hold some valid and all enlightening solution or judgement for those who have gone through it and succumbed to it.
It infuriates me.
I’ve been depressed; I spent a year in a black whole of isolation, where maybe I never contemplated ending my life, but I didn’t care if I got hit by a bus or some other quick solution happened. I, luckily, dug myself out, but I’m always on the precipice, and the fear of falling back in is always there.
I also have an ongoing anxiety problem, and I can not express to you the emotions that hit me when someone says things like ‘It’s all in your head; there’s nothing to fear; just don’t think about it.’
If it were that easy, mental illness wouldn’t be a problem. And these reactions are exactly why people with these problems never ask for help. When our issues are degraded, they become something that’s easier to deal with, successfully or unsuccessfully, internally. It is much easier to exist in a world where only we know our crazy.
There is no outside help for depression and anxiety if you're not willing to take it, and even if you do want it, sometimes it still wins. Williams fought it until he was 63. That’s a damn good winning streak, and it really sucks that it took him now.
My heart goes out to his family, to his kids. I hope they can find comfort in his memories and legacy.
To celebrate his life, I’ve been watching his movies, laughing as I always have and cherishing the fact that he lives on there, doing what he always did best.