I'm not often moved by a celebrity death. Sure, it's sad and I feel sorry for their family and take a moment to hope they're at peace, but beyond that, it's hard to feel grief for someone so...removed. Celebrities don't seem like real people; they're separate from us and besides, they will often live on in the music, films or shows they made, as if they're not really gone.
So I'm quite taken aback by how I feel about the death of Robin Williams. I'm incredibly, deeply saddened and it's the only time I've cried over a celebrity death (OK, second - rivers were cried over Freddie Mercury).
I haven't seen that many of Robin Williams' films, yet he was a staple of my childhood, someone who has always been there, like a favourite uncle you look forward to seeing at family gatherings - kind, gentle, sometimes annoying, but always funny. He brought a sense of warmth and a genuineness that's rare, not only in the world of celebrity, but in all people. And his eyes - oh, his eyes. It's not often a person's eyes are so expressive and full of truth.
It is heartbreaking that whilst he brought joy and laughter to so many, he was battling with such severe unhappiness in himself. And I think that's why it's so upsetting: I relate to that sadness and know its chilling touch, how it becomes a black hole within, sucking you further and further into yourself, collapsing in and destroying all light.
I've seen outpourings of grief on social media today and messages of support for mental health. When you're battling depression, the loss of a fellow sufferer hits hard - just like it does when I lose a fellow cancer patient. It's gutting to learn that someone didn't make it, that as hard as they fought, the illness took them. It's usually the people you don't expect, too - if you only knew Robin Williams from his films, you'd never guess that he was severely depressed and an alcoholic. Therein lies the problem - you can't see depression and sufferers will often try to hide it away, or pretend they're fine.
Another person in my Twitter feed is struggling with their own mental health and is having huge problems accessing the help he needs. Depression has had wide exposure in recent years and I do feel that it's becoming more accepted as an illness, but the fact that help for those who really need it is still so hard to come by, is dreadful.
As clichéd as it sounds, if you're suffering, please remember that you're not alone. As dark as things can be, there are people who care about you and who want to see you well and happy. If you cannot talk to any of your friends and family, then please pick up the phone and talk to a stranger - often that's easier.
Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90
Mind: 0300 123 3393
National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255
There is also a wealth of information and help available online.
I could write for pages about this subject, but most of it wouldn't be helpful. Just know that help is out there and you most definitely aren't alone in how you feel. Wherever this post finds you, I'm sending love, support, and hope that your day contains at least a spark of light.
Depression can affect anyone - regardless of age, gender, background and circumstance. It can be hard to support someone who's depressed, especially if you don't understand it. It is also hard to look after yourself, if you're the one suffering, but a good rule of thumb is the same one I try to apply to everyone and life in general: be kind.
Fly high and sleep easy, Robin; "Genie, you're free".
|Image via blogs.disney.com|
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