(Credit: AP/Dan Steinberg)

Written by: Laura Chapman

Robin Williams – Can We Learn From His Passing?

When someone as bright, vital and sparky as Robin Williams passes away, after the wave of initial shock passes we look to our own lives and put the focus onto ourselves – some may say it is selfish, but it is simply human nature and the way we operate.

The Nature of his illness and the manner of his passing was such an inherent bolt from the blue – even though many people knew he’d been suffering from severe depression for some time. No-one really expected he might take his own life.

For me, it simply brought my own issues into view. I’d known, I think, deep down, for a long time that my moods had been overly erratic and very “all or nothing”. I was either floating on an absolute cloud of utter elation and joy, that nothing or no-one could stop – or I was right at the bottom of the pit, with absolutely nothing or no-one to help me get up. I did know a little about depression and low mood and in all honesty simply thought that that was what I had – and that that was how other people suffered when they had depression.

I’d met up with a friend of mine for coffee and we happened to bump into an acquaintance of hers who stopped to join us for a while. We spoke about our shock at Robin’s death and she just casually mentioned that she hoped more people would now speak out about conditions like depression and bipolar disorder, going on to talk, quite frankly about her own issues. My friend, after she’d left us, explained that she’d been diagnosed with Hypomania and had spent time as an inpatient. The caveat came when she said “You know, you two are really similar in a lot of ways…”

That was, as silly as it sounds, my light bulb moment. I made myself go and speak to my doctor. I was really scared, and it frightened me – but eventually, to hear the words “you have bipolar disorder” was, a huge relief.

If we can take any hope, any positivity from the death of such a talented and loved actor and comedian – it should be that it has given others the courage to speak out and speak up. If you’re struggling with depression, seek help. You’re absolutely not alone. Have courage.


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