I woke up this morning like many others – got out of bed, grabbed a drink, put the news on. And then, like many others, I sat staring at the screen as I heard the news that Robin WIlliams was dead, from a suspected suicide.
Robin Williams felt like a huge part of my childhood. From Aladdin, to Mrs Doubtfire, and later on to Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, and all the other roles he played so well, he made me laugh and cry. And, like many other people, I’d never have thought he would go like this.
That’s the problem with mental illness though. Oftentimes, it’s the one who look most together who are struggling
In my late teens, I looked, to a lot of people, like a girl who’d got it all together. I had a place at a prestigous university (God alone knowa how that happened – I was not a model of industry at the time!), I’d led the church youth group since I was 16, I had great friends…yeah, the list goes on. I could’ve been going places.
The problem is though that I was dying inside. Underneath it all was a terribly frightened little girl who couldn’t let people see the real her, in case – well, it was all to much to contemplate. So I hid myself behind a smokescreen – and when that didn’t work out, I tried to kill myself.
I have no idea what was going on inside Robin William’s head when he made that choice. I do know it’s not one made easily. It’s one that you make when everything is just too much. You can’t be normal anymore, and you’re scared of what will happen when it all breaks down. You hae yourself – the self that depression feeds to you, anyway, but you don’t know how to live, or how to be, any other way.
It’s taken me a good 10 years to get to a point where I don’t hate myself. Most of the time, anyway. A very long time to be glad that I didn’t succeed. I am glad, mostly. But in the middle of the night when the voices shout their loudest – yeah. I can still see why that would be an option.
We’ve lost a magical person in losing Robin Williams – a true mensch, and the world will be poorer without him. But here’s the thing. The world would be poorer without any one of us. Without me in my corner being Lizzi, the world doesn’t look the same. And without you, and your gifts, and your own broken beauty, the world isn’t the same either.
So please, ask the question. Ask the “are you ok” question and listen – really listen – for the answer. And for those who really, really aren’t ok – please know this. It’s easy to say and hard to believe and I know it, but I’m going to say it anyway. Even if you feel like crap, even if you’re totally convinced the entire world would be better off without you – you are valuable. We need you. We love you.
Please hang around – even if for just a few hours more. It’s going to be brutal. But it’s also going to be beautiful.