Category Archives: Mental Health

An evening with Robin Williams

I started a bit of a thing a little while back, with the passing of Rik Mayall – a tribute day. I take a day out of my life and dedicate that time to the appreciation of the artist who has passed, and left a hole in the world behind him.

I organised Mayall-Fest; an amusing event in tribute to a genius and pioneer of British comedy. I filled my fridge full of beer and threw the house open to all comers. We had the Young Ones, Bottom and Blackadder on the playlist, though we didn’t get through nearly all of it – I of course picked up the beer-and-comedy baton the following day…it’s only right and proper, you see.

Utter bastard.

Utter bastard.

It was a splendid day. We laughed our arses off. The comedy was funnier than I actually remembered it being, but I guess that’s no surprise since I was a small child the first time round. We drank, we laughed, we revelled in each others’ company. It felt fitting.

Today has been very different. Today I have had a day dedicated to Robin Williams.

I didn’t tee this up in the same way I did with Mayall-Fest, which was meant to be a riotous, outrageous celebration of the riotous and outrageous comedy that Rik Mayall brought to us. Today felt more sombre.

For those of you that have been living under a rock, or don’t have internet access, Robin Williams died on 11th August 2014. I will add the ‘allegedly’ tag in here for the sake of protocol, but he allegedly took his own life, at the age of 63. He had suffered with depression and substance abuse for many, many years, and had clearly reached a point where he felt he couldn’t continue to exist in this world any more.

This has been a real shock to the rest of the world, and a wake-up call to a lot of people. How could a man so successful, so FUNNY, so clearly bright and intelligent, a man who brought joy to so many… How could that same man be experiencing so much pain that he chose to end his own life? It’s almost unconscionable, and it is extremely difficult to make any sense of it.

But that is kinda the point. There IS no sense to depression.

Anyway, back to my day. I didn’t set this up in the same carnival spirit as I had with Mayall-Fest. I had quietly decided that it was something I wanted to do, and my sister came along to share the day with me. I had lined up my personal Robin Williams favourites – Good Will Hunting, Good Morning Vietnam, and Mork & Mindy. We ended out adding Mrs Doubtfire as the last on the list because my sister recommended it.

I knew that Good Will Hunting had emotionally destroyed me the first time I watched it, so I put that first in the running order, and then stacked up what I believed to be comedy afterwards to mitigate the sting.

How very wrong I was.

I understand that as humans, we are very good at overlaying our own perceptions on top of things, and seeing things that are not necessarily there. Even with that in mind, the pain seemed to leak out of the eyes of Robin Williams in everything that we have watched today.

Even the summations to Orson at the end of Mork & Mindy seemed to be a plea from a bruised soul, wanting the world to be a gentler place.

I knew in advance that Good Will Hunting was going to set me off, but I have cried more times today than I was prepared for, and my chest and throat ache with sadness. The last thing we watched was Mrs Doubtfire, and the last words of the film were Robin saying “Good bye.” I know I have a tendency to be a soppy sod, but that set both of us off again.

How many wonderful people that you know are battling with demons inside themselves? How many people who bring the average Awesome Factor of the human race up are actually trying really hard to find a reason not to leave it?

I was linked the following video via Upworthy, and I genuinely urge you all to watch it. It helps to make a little sense of the senseless, to give words to something that people often find hard to explain, and to shed light on something that is not visible for a lot of people.

Take care of yourselves x

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