Like so many, I was saddened to hear of the passing of Robin Williams. Isn’t it ironic that so many entertainers are victims of depression and substance abuse?
Thinking over the list of people that we have lost in recent years is like thinking over a list of the greatest talents of our times. Health Ledger, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Kurt Cobain, Tony Scott, Whitney Houston, the list goes on and on.
It made me think. Is perhaps the reason that so many entertainers succumb to these insidious diseases because they are so used to living the lie? We all do it to some degree. Say “I’m fine” when we are really not. Put a smile on when inside we are crying.
The pressure to entertain everyone has to be tremendous. To be the funny person when the world is crashing down around you. To make others smile when yours is so fake. It’s so easy to let depression isolate you. To make you withdraw from others for fear that they’ll see the suffering you try so hard to hide. To pretend so hard that you’re happy that you almost believe it. Until you’re alone and reality comes crashing back.
Someone told me that they think suicide is the bravest and most selfish choice a person can make. As unpopular as that idea is, I get it. To overcome the fear of death because life is just too hard take a certain kind of bravery. To leave those you love behind to deal with the aftermath takes selfishness.
Maybe it’s time we stopped expecting people to be perfect and happy all the time. Maybe it’s time we accept flaws and love people anyway. Maybe we need to take the time to do more than shoot a text.
Depression is a real illness. Accept it. Look for it. Step in and step up. None of us and none of those we love are immune.