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The Brilliance of Robin Williams

As a person who has survived Depression for the last 30 years, I’ve been watching the world react to the tragedy that is the passing of Robin Williams.

He was a brilliant man, no one can deny that. His unique brand of being is unparalleled in life as we know it on this planet at this time in history. Even Jimmy Fallon cannot imitate him properly, though he’s come closer than anyone else has ever had the balls to attempt.

He was a compassionate, kind man as well, as shared with us by celebrities and regular folk alike.

Yet in the end he was just as human as any of us, and I think that’s what scares us. Especially those of us who deal with varying degrees of depression daily. If there was a “Home Free!” from Depression, any of us would think Robin Williams was “SAFE!”

It’s nearly impossible to take on an enemy that morphs itself into a smorgasbord of pain personally designed for each individual it attacks like a demon conjured up by Stephen King. Depression is personal. It wants to take *YOU* out, the person, without regard to the fact that success means annihilation for itself as well.

Depression is a cancer of the mind.

Of course, there are ways to survive it. Even more incredible; there are ways to outlast Depression, and even to manage to thrive in spite of it. Robin Williams was a master at this. We need only to look at his charity work to see his attitude of generosity. He made the best use of his up-times he possibly could. Just look at the legacy he left for us in his prolific history in film, video and stand up, as well.

He surfed Depression. That was his brilliance.


He left us a legacy to inspire us. He set the bar astronomically high for the rest of all of humanity to aspire to as human beings. Even more so for the more than 16 million adults who have had a major depressive episode. Most incredibly, he did it with his mind tied behind his back.

In the end, I believe he made a calculated, pragmatic decision. I’ll say more on that in the future, perhaps.

For now, I’m as angry as anyone that he took away the possibility of so many more years of potential joy he could have given us. But that’s the selfish part of me, of us, speaking. As human beings, we mourn the loss of *potential* as much or more as the loss of the person. It’s natural. It’s why it hits us so much harder when children die than great-grandparents; the little ones had their whole lives ahead of them.

We, the collective public as a group, are mourning the loss of what we imagine to be the possible potential Robin Williams was expected to produce over the next 30 years that we could have reasonably expected of him to live. I’m not sure I got the grammar on that last sentence right or not, but you get my drift. Bob Hope lived to be 100. Mickey Rooney passed this year at the age of 94. People who make laughter should live longer, right? Laughter is supposed to be the best medicine, right? Right. Except when they’ve got a mental illness that makes them as awesome as they are.

Like Robin.

We all watched, we all knew there was something different about him. He was someone who completely embodied the term “No Limits”. If his brain had a transmission, its gears were stripped long ago. Robin was freestylin’ from the early days. Anything that burns that hot consumes fuel.

Sometimes that fuel comes from drugs. Robin had his battles with that but crossed the finish line clean as his wife has said publicly.

It also comes from applause.

I think it’s safe to say that Robin Williams lived to please the world. He knew the secret: Everyone is in pain. Make the world safe for another, you make it safe for yourself. Tell the truth as you see it, because no one else sees it like you, and if you get the chance make someone laugh. Because laughter truly is the best medicine. It’s the foremost treatment for keeping depression in remission. Unfortunately, it’s not 100% effective.

Let us not miss out on the lessons this man’s life has to teach us. We owe him that.