Over the past few days I have tried to put into words how Robin Williams' passing has affected me. No, I did not know him. I never even met him. But how cool would it have been to meet him?! His smile, comedy, and words however shaped many memories of my child- and young adulthood. Through movies like Aladdin, Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society, we discover themes of friendship, innocence of a child, family reality, life goals, love lost, and finding a voice. To see all of these things is such an easy way to look at life. Many of us know this but not many of us actually live like this. Because it's easier for Hollywood to show us in an hour and a half these ideals, than for us to change our lives and influences. We all enjoy thought of ideals while the film is rolling, but after it is over go back to real life; actors do the same thing.
With all of that said, Robin's death hits me so much harder than you could imagine. Not for the man on the screen, but the man behind it. We now all see that the great and mysterious Oz was just a small scared man behind the curtain standing and feeling so alone. That is what the disease of depression is. No money or fame or amount of people surrounding you can change that.
On social media we throw up photos of all of our lives, the happiest moments at least, and statuses to make others laugh. Behind the screen, we are able to use our words to bring happiness, show our greatness, cast whatever judgement we feel empowered to, and hide other things we wish for the world not to know. People with depression can go through their whole life behind that curtain and no one could know what actual struggles they feel inside.
I know all this because I have felt all of this. I have felt the sadness that even with my caring husband, beautiful son, amazingly supportive family and friends, there are days when I have felt so absolutely alone. There have been days when walking away from it all seemed like a good answer. Heartache that physically ached my chest. It is not because I do not get enough love and attention. It is not because I am selfish and need more to be fulfilled. It is not because those around me aren't good enough. It is because sometimes I am battling something else, something greater than me.
My happiness and positive attitude isn't a complete coverup for a dark twisted soul either. I am happy. I try to remain as positive about life as I can. I love those in my life with all of my heart. And I try with my whole being to love and appreciate everything in my life. Some days are just easier than others.
What most people know about me is that I am married to a talk, dark and handsome man and a mom of a very beautiful three year old boy. I live in New York City, but Plymouth will always be the only home for me. I love going on adventures and photographing my whole life. I teach preschool, but get such a buzz from working in theatre. I love and miss my family and close friends from home every day. I am passionate and creative. I do love making people laugh and feel good. And what the world sees on social media is me; it is not a cover up, it just isn't the whole me.
What most people don't know about me, well until now, is that every Tuesday afternoon I leave work a little early. I head eighteen blocks uptown and ride the elevator to the tenth floor. For one hour a week, I sit in a room and laugh, cry, rhetorically ask questions when I know I'm too afraid to answer, and feel a sense of pride when I find myself using methods I have been learning to find emotional triumph. I see a therapist. I have chosen to seek help. Some weeks I leave understanding myself better, others I leave feeling like a freshly opened wound. As life is every day changing, so is this process. Some days are always better than others. For all of us.
I don't see the loss of Robin Williams just another celebrity death. I also don't see it as a suicide. I see it as a wake up call for mental health, to provide guidance to those struggling their own thoughts and feelings, and a look into what others without depression may not fully understand. He didn't kill himself; he lost his battle with a mental disease that many people struggle with every day. I am in NO way putting my own issues out there for a poor pitiful me. In fact, I am grateful I have found a professional who I trust and can confide in to help me navigate through this part of my life. There are others out there who have already lost all their hope. I am lucky. I have so much hope in my heart. I just hope that others can find that person, medicine, sport, outlet, to help them through the dark days. I hope that the world starts to take action more regarding mental health issues. Instead of judging one another, we should be supporting each other.
So when Oz is revealed, what do we do? Do we judge them for putting on a facade, blame them for once giving us happiness and hope, shun them and deem them selfish for being afraid and feeling alone and just pretending this whole time? Or do we hold out our hands, help, listen, and offer hope in their own dark times?