On April 4, 1994 Kurt Cobain killed himself. I was almost 18 years old. I knew he was depressed because I was told he was. I shed a few tears that day, but mostly only because he was a musician I liked and he was dead. But seriously? He had it all, didn’t he? Money, fame? What else did he need?
On August 11, 2014 Robin Williams killed himself. That was just yesterday and I’m now 38 years old and I’ve shed many tears over a man who I’ve never met. Why? Is it because he was an Academy Award winning actor and comedian that I liked and he’s dead? No, it’s because depression claimed another one, and I this time, I understand it.
This morning at my job, a co-worker said “Robin Williams had it all and he went and killed himself. I don’t get it.” I simply replied with “No, you don’t.” I also knew there was no use in explaining it, and in fact his lack of understanding and lack of sympathy at that moment angered me too much to get into a conversation about it.
I have seen an incredible outpouring of emotion and sentiment on various social networks over the past day and it does my heart good. I’m glad attention is being given to mental illness and to the horrors of depression. I sincerely hope that something good comes of the death of Robin Williams.
Kurt Cobain and Robin Williams did seem to “have it all.” They had money, they had fame, they had great careers, and they had families. But, what some people don’t understand is that none of that mattered. They brought happiness to this world and to us, but they couldn’t bring it to themselves. THAT is what matters.
I’m using these two celebrities as examples because I see the contrast in my own outlook towards it. In 1994 I believed one could just “snap out of it” and be happy. Yet, I was the one in the high school Speech and Communication class just two years earlier that was not making eye contact, not raising my head, and not speaking at an audible level during a few presentations. I was the one sitting in the corner during a cooking class because I “didn’t feel like doing anything.” Looking at that those specific things now, I realize that I was depressed then and I didn’t acknowledge it.
I DO acknowledge it now. I talk about it as much as I can. I write about it when I feel the need to. And as I’m sure I’ve said before, I don’t just do this for me. I do it for anyone else that feels depressed. I know I’m not alone in this. Yes, I am quite often very lonely, but I know I’m not alone. I want YOU to know that as well. You are not alone either.
Robin Williams lived for 63 years. He was always one of my favorite comedians. And when he did a dramatic role, he was amazing. As I stated earlier, he won an Academy Award. It was for his role in Good Will Hunting, which is absolutely one of my favorite movies. He played a psychologist and in an incredibly powerful scene, he finally breaks through to Will and tells him again and again “It’s not your fault.”
It wasn’t the fault of Robin Williams that he was depressed. His depression was the result of various factors. My depression is the result of various factors. Kurt Cobain’s depression was the result of various factors. But it wasn’t their fault, and it’s not my fault. We are the result.
I’ve had many differing emotions on the topic of suicide. Very often I’ve considered the person that takes his/her own life to be selfish. How dare they leave us? How could they do this to their family, friends, fans, loved ones? And, then Robin Williams, a man who “had it all” killed himself at age 63. And all I thought was that depression claimed another one. And while my heart does go out to his family, friends, fans, and loved ones, this time I understand why it happened.
Throughout my most depressed times, I have never wanted to die. But, there’s been times I didn’t want to go on. I’ve never wanted to not be alive, but I’ve certainly wanted my pain to be over. Robin Williams also wanted his pain to be over, and now it is.
I know I’m bouncing around a bit during this entry and I’m repeating things, but this entry is going to be more from the heart that other entries I’ve done. I’m not going to go back and edit, remove, or redo paragraphs like I sometimes do. This one is going to be as it is. Because it needs to be. Because this time, a celebrity death hit me incredibly hard. Because this time it’s bigger than just the death of a celebrity. It’s about something a lot bigger than that. It’s about something that needs to be addressed. Because this time, I GET IT and it’s about time other people do as well.
Kurt Cobain and Robin Williams brought joy to so many people, but they never felt it themselves. I repeat, they had fame, money, and success, and none of that mattered.
If only either of them realized it wasn’t their fault.