So I’m surfing on Twitter, like I usually do, catching up on tweeting, when something struck me so potently. A tweet declares the passing of Oscar winner and comic genius, Robin Williams. Within the next 10 minutes this is confirmed to be correct. You hold your breath for a moment. Pause. Startled. I think about childhood, because he became a part of your childhood. I’ve watched many of his films, including Popeye, which was fantastically adapted, and Mrs. Doubtfire. They were fascinating to watch, because he was like magic. His performances—touching, poignant and phenomenal—pulled you in, in every film.
The one movie that always touched my heart was Jumanji. I could so relate to Alan when I was a teenager. I was too young to watch it in the cinemas and watched it at home. Somehow I knew this movie would stay with me. And it really did. It introduced me to a powerful performance by Bonnie Hunt. Williams’ ability to improvise dialogues is truly astonishing. His genius shone brightly. Especially his ability to spread joy and laughter—laughter is the best medicine—I recall from Patch Adams, because before that, I wasn’t aware of this saying.
I hadn’t known until now that he was suffering from depression. The fact is, I never imagined him departing the world at 63. This is tragic. He became our smile.
I have suffered from depression as a teenager. It’s very difficult to pull yourself together. It’s not a choice. You don’t see reason because you become consumed by feeling depressed, hopeless. Suicide is not an option; it’s an action out of depression. For some, the only way out is suicide. With cancer, if the symptoms are detected early, it can be prevented. But what about depression? Because in this day and age, the digital social network never really detects depression. We talk about the world, the things in life, the past, present and the future. But what we really don’t do is, listen. The suffocating cries of the suffering. Collapsing under the weight of depression.
Depression is a mental illness. Loneliness gives birth to depression. But for Robin Wiliams, depression could also have been about regret. A personal struggle. I came across an article by Decca Aitkenhead, The Guardian, Monday 20 September 2010. The title read, Robin Williams:
‘I was shameful, did stuff that caused disgust – that’s hard to recover from’.
What I found so emotionally intriguing was the fact that instead of discussing his new film at the time, he wanted to talk about his battle with drugs and alcohol – and recovering from heart surgery. What’s really important is how you feel throughout the span of your life, and that you can talk about it with at least one person. I don’t know if I’m making any sense of this, but I want to encourage people to listen out, and maybe we can change this. For people who need someone to confide in, it would be good if someone was there.
I want to close by adding a quote by my dear friend and emerging author who herself has suffered from depression and thoughts of suicide, Ksenia Anske from her blog WRITER AND DEPRESSION,
“Talk about it. Share your stories about it. Break the stigma and the shame associated with the topic of mental illness.”
It is wonderful to see Robin Wiliams being honoured by powerful media courage and everyone around the globe, through social mediums. Memorializing the iconic star. With each performance, he leaves a part of himself behind. His ability to craft characters so human, they were fragile and yet equally powerful, he made them believable. Farewell, great actor, comic genius and mostly, a wonderful human being. The worlds funniest man alive that ever lived.
— M. Aamir
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Post edited by my dear and wonderful friend/mentor, Dionne Lister. Always grateful to her.