The World According to Robin Williams

Tribute to Mr. Robin William’s Life

Jenny (Garp’s Mother): “You know Garp, everybody dies. My parents died. Your father died. Everybody dies. I’m going to die too. So will you. The thing is, to have a life before we die. It can be a real adventure having a life” ― John Irving, The World According to Garp

By any measure the Oscar-winning comedian and actor extraordinaire lived his life as a real adventure; a tour de force, indeed. He made us laugh and cry. We were amazed by his comedic genius and shapeshifting ability to become the characters he played in heart, mind and spirit. Now, we are at a loss to explain to ourselves why Robin Williams, an amazingly talented person with so much to live for, decided to take his own life.

If a person has a severely disabling and painful physical disease that we can see, it’s easier for us to appreciate why someone might contemplate suicide to do away with physical discomfort and pain. But, the suffering of bipolar depression isn’t so obvious, so it’s more difficult for us to understand the extent to which bipolar people suffer.

Bipolar Depression can cause such mental anguish and suffering that as many as 1 in 5 people with bipolar disorder have committed suicide. This is a rate approximately 30 times greater than that of the general population.The mortality rate for bipolar illness is higher than many forms of heart disease or cancer.

Bipolar depression isn’t simply a sad mood. It is a disorder of brain chemistry. Once the brain switches off, the lights in the brain and body literally shut off; the mind, body and heart go dark, so to speak. Darkness takes up residence in every cell of the body, wiping out all joy and the ability to think about anything else but the desire to end the suffering.

People with the disorder are constantly trying to find the escape from the blackest caves of the mind. And, even in better times, the brain chemistry of persons with bipolar depression is so fragile that most of their days are spent managing swings of mood and energy levels. Working too hard, stressful life events, illness and nutritional and lifestyle habits can tip the brain from happiness to deeply sad in a heartbeat. Persons struggling with bipolar depression are trying to manage symptoms of the disorder fifty-four percent of the time. More than half of their lives are given over to the management of their disease (Bipolar Depression: Treatment Considerations, PsychologyInEverydayLife).

Bipolar depression is a serious disease, but it doesn’t have to be a prison sentence. It cannot be cured, but it can be managed. For information as to helpful treatment approaches to bipolar illness, go to the links that follow: Bipolar II Disorder: Misunderstood and Misdiagnosed:Bipolar Depression: Treatment Considerations and Bipolar Disorder: Not a Prison Sentence).

Thank you for sharing your extraordinary talent with us Mr. Robin Williams, even during times when you were suffering so greatly. We will carry your ideas and words forward in our hearts and minds. True to the sage advice that you gave as Garp to your wife Helen, as you lay dying in her arms, we will “remember everything” Mr. Williams. We will remember your comic and acting genius and how you made us laugh and cry. But, mostly, we will remember your ability to relate to our humanness and that you truly lived life as a real adventure. God Bless and Rest in Peace.

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5 Responses to “The World According to Robin Williams”

  1. The darkness is not the truth! Carpe diem! Seize the day! Gather ye rosebuds while ye may! I will always remember this line from Dead Poets Society. Your column is sheer blessing!!!

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      You are right Michael. Thank you. We have to keep seizing the day. I love the lines and the beautiful spirit of the film. He was so great in this role. To gathering ye rosebuds while ye may. Warmly Deborah.

      • I said this many times, “There are three people in this world that make me laugh:—Robin Williams, Reese Witherspoon, and Professor Stephen Hawking.” Like some sort of incantation the line always makes me smile. Sadly, the words have lost their amusing value—He’s gone.

        • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

          Hello Colden. Good to see you here. Most definitely a great loss. I can only hope he knew how much we all lived and respected him. Warm regards Deborah

        • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

          Hello Colden, boy this response is late. I’m getting back to many people today. Robin Williams made us laugh and cry. But what I loved most was the brilliant, poignant way he got us to face the existential issues that confront us all in movies like The World According to Garp, Fisher King, Good Will Hunting and Dead Poet’s Society. The man was fully alive, fully awake that is such a burden to face everyday. Nice to say hello to you here Colden. I have not forgotten our great talk together. Be well. Warm regards Deborah.

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