Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21,1951-August 11,2014)
It was one of those days where the subject of my article was dictated by circumstances beyond my control. A great actor and comedy giant, Robin Williams was found dead in his home this Monday. Cause of death is suspected to be asphyxiation ( basically denying the body of oxygen which in turn impairs breathing and leads to death). He is suspected to have committed suicide by hanging! The question is; what could have driven a successful 4 time Academy award nominee and one time Academy award winner, 2 time Emmy award winner, 4 time Golden Globe award winner and 2 time Screen Actors Guild Award winner who seemed to have the world at his feet to commit suicide? It is incomprehensible! Robin Williams, aged 63, established a successful career in both stand-up comedy and feature film acting. Many of us grew up enjoying his role as the voice of Genie of the Aladdin fame in 1992 and Mrs Doubtfire (my personal favorite) in 1993 among many other fantastic films in his body of work. It is also ironic that he appeared in the video “Don’t worry, Be happy” by Bobby Mcferin.
For someone who brought smiles and laughter to the face of many, It is such a tragedy that Mr Williams should die the way he did. It is now obvious that he was an unhappy man whose unhappiness led to depression. The truth is that there is always more to people than meets the eye. The fact that a person is always smiling doesn’t necessarily translate to them being happy on the inside. Sometimes the most bubbly people are the saddest, their exuberant mien a facade. Robin Williams battled alcoholism and cocaine addiction at times in his life and never really shied away from talking about his battles. He was also married thrice in his lifetime. We may never really know what exactly led to him deciding to take his own life but one thing is sure; He had his demons. This is not the first time this is happening, celebrities who many view as “living the dream life” stun us all from time to time when they decide to end it all one day because they are suffering from depression. These are people who many of us envy and would give an arm and leg to be in their “idyllic” shoes. Not all that glitters is gold friends!
If people in the developed world where they have all the basic social amenities, treatment and rehabilitation centers for addiction and clinical depression appear to still struggle with this psychiatric disorder, what then is the hope of the common man in a third world country who has more than enough reasons to be depressed? Sometimes I get depressed when things are not going well and it affects my general outlook to life, so I have faint idea of what people who are chronically depressed must be going through. Clinical depression (which is a prolonged feeling of sadness, fatigue,worthlessness and loss of pleasure or interest) can however lead to suicidal tendencies, which is why it is important that it is treated.
In the developing world, we don’t have adequate healthcare for clinical depression which is why I think it is important to explore the option of talking to a confidant, mentor or counselor who is in a position to keep our spirits up whenever those negative feelings start to creep in. As individuals and members of a larger society, let’s pay closer attention to family and friends. Be kind with your words (this goes particularly to the cyber bullies) because everyone is fighting a battle however small and you never really know how sensitive a person may find certain jokes. Our words are powerful and should build up and not tear down. Encourage others. Be a good friend. Learn to be grateful. Sometimes what you are depressed about is someone else’s prayer. A constant attitude of gratitude is the antidote to keeping depression at bay.