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Dark Days & Robin Williams

Dear Friends,

Like so many others around the world who are in shock and mourning the loss of the brilliantly talented Robin Williams, his death reawakens discussions about mental illness, depression and suicide. As a suicide survivor and as someone who has battled serious bouts of depression, I decided to step out from behind the curtain and share some thoughts.

The other day I was talking to my partner, Sam. I was telling him how grateful I was that I got to be alive. That it really IS a miracle that out of all the people who lived before me and who had to survive and have children, that one day two people would find each other and I would get to be a product of that union. The odds blow my mind when I think about it long enough. What reason do I have to ever be sad or sorry to be blessed to watch a sun rise, to walk on my own two legs (I’m not handicapped), to breathe without being plugged into a machine. I can take delight in getting a hug or finding I did have one cookie left when I really wanted one. I may be nearly broke. I might lose my home, but in the scheme of things I have so much to be grateful for simply because I was born and I get to experience all this juicy, wonderful and terrible stuff called life.

This is not a story about blindly being happy or that there can be no reason for feeing brokenhearted and depressed. It’s a reminder to all of us to yank our head out of our ass. To stop being consumed by being a consumer. To stop tap, tap, tapping on the phone keyboard ‘til our eyes burn. To quit beating ourselves up because we're too fat, too thin, too old, too this or that and start a path towards being gentle and loving with ourselves and others in a real and open way.

There are so many issues, so many concerns, so many fears, yet if you could clear those things away for a moment and take a step back and look around, you’re pretty fucking lucky to just be alive and maybe in all of that there is the seed of joy, ready to blossom.

I’ve been to the dark place many times. I’ve come very close to taking my own life more often than I’d care to say. In 1999 on a hot summer day in June, my father blew his brains out in my brother’s old room. He’d had many trials over his life and dark days, too, but in those days seeing a therapist or taking medication wasn’t a thing a “man” did. My father was a great provider for his family. He loved us yet scared us with his temper, but in the end he was a guilt-ridden, frustrated man who so wanted to be happy but couldn’t find a way to stop feeling bad about what he didn’t achieve. Because of that he was blind to seeing what he DID accomplish. He could never let go of having to prove something and as a result could never feel good about himself. It was a demon that he couldn’t shake. He was so creative and far ahead of his time that it still pains me to think about it. If he could only have seen what I saw in him.

©1970 Judith Feminella. Daddy going on another business trip with me and my brother at his side.

I wonder if that is true of Robin Williams? I can’t speak about this man’s life. I have lots of questions like everyone else. I think about how I want to feel jealous of my friends when I see them having success. I think they have it all and I have nothing. I think I’m not good enough because they have more than I do. I think about Robin Williams, a comedic genius with money, fame, access to whoever or whatever he wanted. He didn’t have to worry about how to pay the bills or if he had enough Likes on Facebook. He “had it all” by our standards, yet look at how things ended for him? He may have felt like his life was some sort of living Hell that was so painful the only solution left was to leave this mortal coil.

Looking at it from the outside it would be easy to assume he had no reason to take his life, yet what he did is exactly the reason why we need to learn from it. It’s so easy to think the other person has it so good when we don’t know what their life is really like. We don’t know what’s in their heart yet we’re willing to let ourselves feel like we’re not good enough or our life doesn’t have meaning, when we couldn’t be more wrong.

I know how depression feels like impossibly tight blinders. We can’t be reasoned out of not wanting to hurt ourselves in those dark moments. For myself what I have learned was I made a promise to my Mother that if I ever felt that badly I could sound the alarm and she would help me simply get to the next minute. If I could get to one minute, surely I could get to two and soon after that the darkness would slowly begin to wane. I could always depend on my feelings changing. Nothing is solid. I can just take another breath and another and I can get there even if I’m still wobbly for a long time after. The sky will be blue again. That’s a guarantee.

My mother died 8 years ago Friday. I don’t have her to go to when the dark times come, but I have all of you and I can’t tell you how many times your love has kept my fingers typing along, telling another story, when I thought so little of myself that I didn’t want to go on any more. I also don't feel so dark all the time. The more I focus on being grateful and in helping others, the less I feel bad about myself.

I’m so terribly sad that Robin Williams choice was to take his life. I know if he had reached out to any one of his fans, his friends, his family, they would have gone to his side. I wish Robin could have taken another breath, given it another minute. At some point there will be good days again. You have to have faith in that. If you can just open your eyes and let a tiny sliver of this beautiful world reach your heart you wouldn’t ever feel the need to leave it all behind. There really IS so much wonder around all of us it’s a terrible shame how easy it is to forget that.

640px Robin Williams 2008 sm

Unrestricted Image Creative Commons: Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA

I wish I could have said some of these things to my Father and I wish someone could have said them to Robin Williams, too.

And to all of you, my friends, thank you for being there. To those who suffer the dark days, please, please remember to have faith in that next breath and that soon your feelings will change. Reach out to friends and family for help or call any number of suicide prevention hotlines. People care about each other and want to help each other. You DO matter. Let someone help you. Then, when you feel you can, go outside and look around. Find a gem in a newly formed leaf or really enjoy the sweet smell of the air before it rains. Don’t take your life for granted and throw it down the drain. Relish it. Love it. Be joyful. Live.

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What a beautiful post! Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing your journey with us. <3

I too wonder why someone like Robin Williams who apparently had it all and made so many of us so happy would end his own life. Although I suffer with MDD (major depressive disorder), I also put on that smiling face whenever I have enough courage to go outside. I laugh and make jokes about everything so I can make those around me feel better. I'm a big "giver" - from the heart. I would rather donate to a needy, worthy cause then buy something for myself; this is what brings joy to me.

I love my husband who is truly sympathetic and understanding about my disease, because that is what it is a disease. Unlike my immediate family, he has taken the time to learn about the different facets of this horrible, mind-controlling monster. However, I will NOT let this beat me. I would never/could never take my own life nor would I ever even consider hurting anyone else. Besides my husband, I have 3 fur babies that NEED me (and I need them, too) and I promised all of them that I would be with them and take care of them FOREVER! I'm not going to break my promise to any of them.

The best medicine around to chase away "whatever ails you" is to snuggle with a fur baby :)

You're so brave. I'm really proud of you!!!!

*BIG PROPS* to you and you certainly have your priorities right ;)

Very nice, Robin.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Robin. It was just what I needed today.

Thank you for being so brave and honest, Robin.  So much of what you wrote resonates with me, from the temperamental, brilliant father -- mine, thankfully, did not use his gun, but I know he had many dark days and that he could also have gone so much farther in life than he did, a few things being different -- to the universal dark days we all have.  I have lost a family member by marriage and also a very dear friend to suicide, and there is not one moment of one day that I do not wish they had been able, somehow, to see through the despair to the whatever-it-was-that-life-had-in-store-for-them, that they, and we, will never know.

We all have days of despair.  For me, as hopefully for you, those days are the ones when I reflect on the fact that it's never all about me, and turn it outwards.  I also have beloved family members who depend on me for their food, shelter, safety, and love.  No one else but me would be the one they are bonded to and the one they know will be there for them.  If that isn't enough reason to keep going, then there just plain isn't one.  To me, caring for loved ones is the greatest reason any of us have for being here in the first place, and EVERY ONE of us can be in that position -- there are so many, many deserving living beings who ache for love and yearn for safe haven.  GO AND BE THE "someone" FOR ONE, OR MORE, OF THEM.  Be part of something bigger than yourself.  And I guarantee, you will wait.  You will wait when it all seems unendurable.  You will not do whatever it is that would result in them being made to mourn.

I wish Robin Williams had really know how much he was loved and how precious the gifts he had, and gave so freely to the world, are and will always be.  I wish he had been able to wait.  And I pray his tragic loss will make anyone out there who is feeling similarly go and seek help, and then lose themselves in something larger than themselves.  It is the only tried and true "cure" for those unendurable times.


No-one truly understands another person's mind and no-one really knows what they would or wouldn't do when suffering from depression. Suicide has dug a hole in my own heart and after going through the various stages of grief - shock, disbelief, misery, confusion, anger, I came to realise that a suicide truly believes at that precise moment in time, that death is the only option they have.  My acceptance of this has been a long time coming and now I try only to remember the good things. I do this with difficulty though as its hard not to blame oneself for not being able to prevent the death of a loved one and often those thoughts override the good things I try to remember

Robin, like me and many others, hearing news of a suicide brings up bad memories we try hard to forget but of course we never can. So all we can do is just keep on keeping on - trying to live a good life and holding dear those good memories.

RIP Robin Williams and thank you for all the joy you gave us

Barbara UK

Thank you Robin for writing this beautiful, vulnerable blog. You are so right... just take that next breath and feelings do change, one must just stay with it and who knows... one sees a blue butterfly or notice the way a ray of sun plays on a leaf. Sometimes that's all it takes.

Thank you for reminding me that not everyone looks at life the same way I do.  We don't always know the true thoughts and feelings of those around us.  We might need to listen a little closer and look a little harder sometimes.

I feel we all carry depression within many can cope & be strong others lose their way & feel like there will never be hope. Suicide is a huge cry for help that came too late. For many like robin williams comedian on the outside the turmoil on the inside is much greater then an average person. Im so sorry he had to take his life, he made us all  laugh shame  but no one listened to his pain behind the laughter

Thank you, Robin. Your post was truly beautiful. As someone who has constant bouts of anxiety. I can relate. Mr. William's death really stirred some old emotions up. 


You are right, we must not get caught up in those dark feelings. Just keep breathing, and don't let those dark emotions or thoughts rule you. To truly experience life, we must take the good and the bad. 

Robin, you are a beautiful soul who does so much good in this world. Please keep the faith and know that you are not alone. You are very special and very important to a lot of people who have your back. Afterall, we're all in this together and we're here to help each other.

Keep on keepin' on! You rock sista! Peace out.  :)

~"Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle."

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