As I drove home last evening, I pondered a thought that the whole world is mourning. And then I tried to recall when another human left this earth that had made such an impact on the masses. I honestly couldn't come up with one who truly touched as many lives. Laughter is a powerful thing and when someone makes you laugh, you don’t soon forget. Robin Williams was a genius comedian, loved the world over.
I am confused with my emotions. I did not know this man personally. Like most of you, I didn’t know all of the little quirks of this master-mind. We only know what we saw on the screen. Behind the scenes, we have come to realize, was quite another matter. How could we know his pain or suffering? How could anyone of us have helped? We couldn’t, yet I find myself wishing I could. If only….if only…the words haunt me from another time.
Ten years ago I knew very little about mental illness or what it is to be bi-polar, the manic highs and the deep, dark lows, depression that hits you like a wall and stops you cold. No one talked about it. No one really knew much about it but little by little it is revealing itself to the world. What an absolute tragic way for the world to open up to mental illness and depression. Will it take the death of someone well-known for each of us to finally open our minds and hearts and give compassion?
I was alone with my thoughts this morning which gave me time to think about those who suffer from addiction and mental illness. It seems the two can go hand-in-hand. What causes one person to be drawn to drugs and alcohol? Is it the rush? Is it a coping mechanism? Are those synapses causing such great havoc up there that one must seek out something foreign to calm them? Why one person and not the other?
We do know that over-use of drugs and alcohol can have adverse effects on the brain. I have a friend who is a caretaker for his brother because he literally fried his brains on drugs after the Vietnam War and now has drug-induced schizophrenia. There’s also an alcohol-induced form of Alzheimer’s. My Aunt had Alzheimer’s. She got to a point where she was no longer herself. Her body was the same, but her mind was not. She was no longer the person we all knew and loved, just a shell of what once was. Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain, as is bi-polar and other forms of depression. I have to believe that once a disease of the brain takes hold with its powerful grip, you are no longer the person you once were. You do not have control over what your brain is telling you.
No one knows what torment Robin Williams suffered. No one knows unless they’ve been there. I have to believe that he and countless others like him have reached the point of no control, for they would not choose to cause such heart ache to loved ones left behind who wonder why.
God speed Mr. Williams.