Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Some of us conquer depression, or at least find ways to cope; some of us don’t.

Oscar-winning comic actor Robin Williams tried the coping thing. Apparently, it didn’t work. Reports are that he committed suicide yesterday. My mother mentioned Williams’ death after she watched one of those morning shows where the hosts have a coffee mug Superglued to their hands. (Are they sponsored by Folger’s?)

“Robin Williams died.” That was it. She went back to sipping her own cup of coffee.

That left me to surmise the cause of death. And, sadly, I made the assumption that most of us make when a celebrity who isn’t particularly old dies. “He’d gone back to rehab recently,” I said.

“Yes.” Again, that was it. My endlessly chatty mother had gone tight-lipped. A first. No rambling Girl Guide speech about the evils of drugs, no judgment about fame and all the bad in liberal Hollywood, no wistful statement like, “He seemed like such a nice young man when he was Mork.”

She let the drugs assumption stand. My mother held back. Depression is still a hush-hush word.

And I know what she was thinking. Robin Williams had depression and killed himself. My son doesn’t need to hear that. Don’t put those thoughts back in his head.

Because if I suddenly want to revisit a childhood game, let it be a round of Follow the Leader with Robin Williams. The man and I were never united in some sort of Jonestown pact. I couldn’t even sit through a full episode of his last sitcom, the unfortunately named The Crazy Ones.

There is no connection.

Except in my mother’s mind.



canoetoo said...

I was strangely saddened by the news of Robin Williams' death. I sometimes found his stand-up a bit too manic and exhausting. Even in interview situations, he was always riffing this way and that. He always seemed unable (or unwilling) to answer serious questions put to him. This often made me wonder about who the real person was in there.

Rural Gay said...

No doubt, Robin remained intensely private even as he seemed to crave public attention through a comedic persona that grew tiresome to many of us.

Still, thinking back to some of his movie roles--Awakenings, Good Will Hunting and even Mrs. Doubtfire--he was a far greater talent.

I just hope he opened up with his core friends and family. The manic public figure obviously had some overwhelming demons. I continue to believe there is a stigma attached to mental health issues and, while there may be a greater breadth of services, the depth is lacking.

There is much to learn and discuss and I hope that Robin Williams' suicide will bring something positive in the aftermath.