Moore Thoughts: Williams' death shines light on mental illness

Published on Saturday, 16 August 2014 23:26 - Written by John Moore Guest Columnist

Robin Williams died.

Celebrities are as mortal as the rest of us, but Robin wasn’t like the rest of us. That’s why the news of his death was such a shock to most of America.

Anyone younger than 40 grew up with Robin Williams. Those of us older than that remember the first time we saw him.

I first saw him on television in the 1970s on the show “Happy Days.” He played a space alien named Mork.

He exploded from the screen.

He later had his own show with actress Pam Dawber called “Mork and Mindy.”

From there, his career was a shooting star. He sold out large venues with his stand-up comedy, made dozens of movies and hundreds of TV appearances and raised lots of money for charity.

The news of his death quickly made its way through mainstream and social media, and within minutes, the disbelief had set in that someone who had made so many of us laugh until we cried was gone.

Robin had taken his own life. That was the shocking part. He loved others, but he fought loving himself.

He’d been public about his struggles with depression and the substance abuse to which it was connected. But no one expected someone who seemed to be such a happy person to end it all.

Anyone who’s ever dealt with depression knows exactly what Robin battled. Depression is an evil foe. It puts you in a place that seems empty and hopeless. A place you want to leave, but you cannot.

The CDC estimates that 1 in 10 Americans report depression. If 1 in 10 report it, you can assume there are many more who don’t.

Many who have depression don’t realize it. Others do. Reaching out for help isn’t easy, because that’s not what people who feel hopelessness do. That’s why it’s important for everyone to know the signs and symptoms of depression, so that we can reach out to them.

It has been said that out of something bad, something good can come. I’ve heard that all my life, but I don’t think it’s always applicable. Here, it is. Robin’s death has brought an awareness to mental illness that needed to be brought.

Virtually all families have someone who suffers some form of mental illness, yet we almost always try to hide it from others. Keep it a secret.

Mental illness is a disease — a treatable disease. You shouldn’t hide it, you should seek help.

There is a free event called the Peace of Mind Conference, scheduled for Sept. 20 in Tyler. It is sponsored by the Mental Health Grace Alliance and is free and open to the public. Its purpose is to help people who suffer from any form of mental illness, and their family and friends, to connect with others who also fight a daily battle similar to theirs.

Registration is available at www.peaceofmindtyler.com .

 

Read more John Moore at johnmoore.net/blog.