I read a lot of people implying something along the lines of “If I’d been Robin Williams I’d have just been happy to have made it”.
I feel a huge sadness over Robin Williams’ death, and also, a touch of anger that his demons got the better of him and deprived his wife and young children of his compassion and humour in such a devastating way.
The facts remain:
Depression can be in anyone’s life – it touches most.
Fame is not a good goal to be pursued – it will never bring happiness.
Suicide is to be talked about in wise ways – not the way the shitty media cover, this and mass shootings… as a mawkish grief-spreading cancerous feeding frenzy.
Being misunderstood is a part of any life where you express a view in public.
No matter how carefully we choose our words, no matter if people we trust express their deep understanding of what we are saying, and therefore how we feel, they can at best only scratch at a temporary surface.
Those who we do not know, but who read our material, can build amazingly false pictures of who we are – and in turn publicly cement a false version of us in their public’s eye. It has happened to me often on a very minor scale, abusive tweet replies sometimes resulting from a complete misreading of a text apparently well understood by others.
Do you see the fame catch here?
Thousands of people on social media are asking, “Why?” as if they had some understanding of what it was like to be Robin Williams.
No one could ever know, but perhaps it involved the following:
Going home from a stand up gig that went incredibly well, but now there’s no way and nowhere for that buzz to be sustained. You are alone, and you know that none of those people who applauded have any idea who you are or how you feel.
You have been told you have an illness called depression, but when it is at its worst, it lies to you about being a permanent inescapable hell. It is a very good liar, it uses the most honest part of YOU to lie to yourself. It can do this right after your greatest high…
The lies we tell ourselves when we are young often include the one about fame, “I will make a name for myself! – be recognised”.
Whereas those who have made it as movie stars generally dread being “recognised”.
Why do you think that contradiction arises?
The cliché is that you are looking for the love from the world that you didn’t get as a small child. This cliché carries a lot of weight.
You cannot get love from strangers, and the illusion of their love can make you feel less loved than ever…
Only the love of self that incorporates an understanding of your whole self – and the unconditional love of another is critical to that – can be satisfying.
The tragedy for the public who feel something they describe as love for the famous who made us laugh and enjoy ourselves so much, is that we do have a genuine loss, it is a small bereavement. I feel it now.
The wise teachers I had as psychotherapists taught me a lot about this. That no matter how much we may feel we have “got our act together”, or become some kind of top class Zen student, these deaths of the famous can still kick us in the teeth.
My long term therapist, Jeremy Hazel, was learning his trade when George VI died. His teachers noted that nearly every client, Republican, Royalist, orphan or otherwise, reacted as if they had been bereaved of a father.
We should take note of this with regard to how we will be in the UK when the Queen dies.
Just as we note why and how we feel, as the King of Comedy has died.