The news of Robin Williams passing hit me hard last summer. I was checking my texts while walking out of a Twelve Step meeting when my daughter messaged me.
“Mom, Robin Williams died!”
My tears were immediate.
Only weeks before, I had offhandedly posted on Facebook about his June treatment in rehab.
Go, Robin! I think I wrote. Go, Robin – get well!
Whether from his addiction or depression, I wanted him to heal. After all, I felt like I knew him. Didn’t you?
Didn’t he make you believe in interplanetary rapport as an alien in Mork and Mindy?
Didn’t he inspire you as the wartime DJ who brought smiles to soldiers in the midst of misery in Good Morning, Vietnam?
Didn’t he make you secretly wish he was your father-slash-nanny as Mrs. Doubtfire?
Didn’t you just swoon at his prose-loving, word-weaving portrayal of John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society? (Okay, maybe that was just me.)
Even as he made flawless comedy, there was a distinct sadness behind his laughing eyes – a palpable melancholy. Flowing from the same mind as such beautiful and authentic art, there lay the dormant specter of depression.
Several news sources stated that his last stay in a rehabilitation facility “came too late for him.” Every time I read
that sentiment, it broke my heart anew. I am not sure I believe that. It is never too late for hope to take hold, and I wish Mr. Williams had been in a state of mind to realize that.
Didn’t he know that things always, always get better? It is a law of nature – things get bad. And then they get better. But his spirit just ran out of patience waiting for the better to arrive.
He was, by all accounts, a good person. Unfortunately, being a good person has precious little to do with suffering depression and addiction. If anything, sufferers of both struggle mightily since they are generally sensitive to those around them, attuned to sadness and anger and joy – all of the empathetic humours. Addicts and alcoholics often self-medicate with booze and/or drugs in a futile attempt to stop feeling hopeless. Of course, more hopelessness ensues as the addiction surges like a dragon, breathing more fire on the already-scorched earth of one’s spirit.
I’ve never attempted to take my own life, but I have battled depression a few times – deeply enough to consider death by my own hand. At one point, I remember thinking – very nonchalantly – that I just didn’t want to exist anymore . . . that I would honestly be doing my family a favor if I just ceased to exist. The most terrifying thing about these thoughts was the aplomb with which such thoughts present themselves.
I was all cried out, all screamed out, all worn out . . . and really tired of being disappointed. I could not imagine ever being in a non-exhausted state and living with an ability to get up in the morning and dress myself without resentment for having to do so.
It is a dark, lonely place.
I hated living in this flawed body, with chronic pain – both physically and emotionally. The flat, casual tone of my suicidal thoughts alarmed me enough to seek help.
I cannot tell you what would/should/could have worked for Robin Williams. Or for you.
I can only tell you what works for me. (Notice I didn’t say “worked.” Mental illness is often not a “one-trick pony” – depression can and does recur.)
When the demon of severe depression rears its fiery head, I employ the same Twelve Steps that saved my life when I got sober . . . particularly those steps that focus on faith, surrender, soul-searching, acceptance and a willingness to get well – that willingness to press on for One More Day.
Even though things seem pretty crappy in the moment.
Take one single day at a time, because the law of nature is that things do get better. You just have to ride out one more day and rely on the God who tells you He loves you even in those times – especially in those times. No matter who you are, He has a plan for your life that would just blow you away if you knew about it ahead of time.
You know the old platitude, “Don’t give up before the miracle happens”? There is truth in it.
Don’t give up before your miracle arrives, and take one single day at a time.
Hopelessness is an illusion. There is always hope.
The world needs me, and it needs you. It needs your message and your energy – that fingerprint of your love influences the lives of those who love you and the world around you.
God knows we could have used more of Robin Williams on this earth.
Rest in peace, Mr. Williams. I feel I knew you.
Rest in peace, knowing you brought joy to millions of people . . . knowing you endeared yourself to countless
people in your 63 swashbuckling years on earth. The world needed more of you. Even so, rest now. God be with you and give you Shalom everlasting.
Go, Robin – and be well.
Jana Greene is a Jesus freak, wife, mother, recovering alcoholic, author and blogger at http://thebeggarsbakery.com. In 2001, she surrendered her will to Jesus and is still surrendering on a daily basis. She writes to let others know where to find the Bread of Life. She lives with her husband, daughters and kitty cats in North Carolina. To see the Twelve Steps and their Biblical comparisons, go to http://celebraterecoverygabc.com/12-Steps.html.