JT HABERSAAT

 
 

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Depression

I never got to meet Robin Williams but I know several people who did. They all without fail insisted he was a genuinely friendly and at times private man. He was a fairly incredible comedic actor of course, but in all honestly it was his serious roles that always impacted me personally the most. Many of these were over the top, which is exactly how his comedy manifested - manic, unhinged...genius masquerading as spur-of-the-moment inspiration. I often found him a bit exhausting and even irritating; same goes for Jim Carey (even more so). Yet the knowledge that both were prone to episodes of depression was a given to me.

Many comics can be pointed at having the 'two personas', i.e.: stage comic and in-private person. Sometimes this is true - I for one think that in the case of manic personalities such as Mr. Williams, Chris Farley, etc. that there really is a true 'show off' element that cannot be turned down. For the majority of comedians suffering from depression, however, I honestly feel the symptoms manifest through their material, rather than simply mask unhappiness through hyper glee. It's why so many of us are cynics. Atheists. Escapists. Or as I like to say...no-bullshit realists.

Needless to say, I'm no psychologist. But having dealt with depression for most of my adult life (and yes dealt...it's a constant course of simply dealing with it or not, mores than 'suffering'....there are bad moments and long stretches of almost no symptoms at all), I can say....I get it.

Robin Williams had a fairly envious career. Movies, television, stand up, even dramatic Oscars. "How could he not be happy?" I've never been rich, but there have been moments when I have been fairly secure. After money no longer becomes a struggle, I have to imagine it melds into the reality of what it's always truly been - pieces of paper we attached value to. Make no mistake, not having $ sucks. But 'things' are ultimately just things, and after the worry of paying the bills lessens I have to imagine a 'what now?' void can easily manifest.

In all honestly, I'm not even sure where to go with this. A million comics are writing a million meaningless bogs right now, this one included. But I felt the need to write something. For those of you without depressive tendencies, know that it is not 'just feeling really bummed out'. And that there's usually nothing to be done but wait for the storm cloud to move on. And that it inevitably does. Thanks for your patience.

For all of his comedic brilliance, I've always felt that the 'true' Robin Williams was revealed in a pair of distinct cinematic scenes - his breakdown at the beginning of Mrs. Doubtfire in court over the realization that he was losing his kids, and the anger in Good Will Hunting when Matt Damon speaks of his deceased wife. That felt like the 'real' Robin Williams to me...the one hiding under the 'Patch Adams' front. 

I hope you rest easy Mr. Williams. I wish I had the opportunity to shake the hand.