The One Where Robin Williams Fucking Dies

I’d think it’s fair to say that nearly every depressed person in America has had the same thought within the last 24 hours: If it could happen to Robin Williams, of all people, it could happen to me.

He was rich, he was famous, he had a good life, a distinguished career, a loving wife and happy kids. He was America’s class clown, for fuckssakes. If it could take down such a comedic giant, it will rip through me like a tornado through a Texas trailer park. 

I had a friend who posted on Facebook last night something to the effect of that behind his laughter there was always a visible sadness, which was made him so real, so relatable. And it’s true. Goddammit if he didn’t wear that sadness so close to the surface it’s almost unbearable to watch now. 

And I think that will be his lasting legacy. Not the suspenders or the clown nose or his manic late-night performances, but that nudged America in the right direction in the conversation about depression, like how Rock Hudson is now at least partly known for finally getting America to talk about AIDS. 

I’ve been lucky to have fairly understanding people in my life. I haven’t had anyone say anything so stupid as “How hard is it just to be happy?” Or “Just cheer up!” While there’ve been strides in getting the country to better understand depression, there is still a large portion of this nation who feels like depression isn’t really a disease, all you need to do is just “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” Hell, I still fucking think that way about myself all the time! How fucked up is THAT? That even I believe that bullshit still? The self-abuse you can inflict upon yourself in this area is frightening. 

My social media feeds are, of course, full of tributes to the man’s life, but I’m very encouraged that there are almost as many posts about depression—understanding it, recognizing signs, hotline numbers, etc. Of all of them, easily the best one was THIS

I’m not fucking kidding. Go read it. That list is SPOT FUCKING ON. I started weeping when I read that list. Simply because it was the first time I realized that, literally, millions of other people have been going what I’ve been going through. I’m not alone. I can’t tell you how freeing that was. 

So now people are talking about it, understanding that depression is such an evil and powerful cunt that it can take down the funniest man on earth. Thank you, Robin, for helping us see that. Maybe a mother with a depressed son reads that list and a lightbulb goes on over her head that her son is actually in real trouble and needs help. Maybe a wife who is considering leaving her husband because he simply shut down on her now suddenly understands that what’s happening to him is beyond his control. So thank you, Robin. 

And thank you for the four decades of laughter and the tears. The world is a smaller and sadder place with your passing.