One of my favorite movies growing up was Mrs. Doubtfire. I mean, how could you not like it? A dude, dressed as a woman, an old and ugly one at that, spends the time with his children he is afraid he will miss after a bitter divorce. It was an absolutely hilarious movie, especially for a 12 year old.
But as it was told to the world last night that Robin Williams had died, and not to the hands of an ugly disease or a violent crime, but at the hands of himself, I begin to kind of process the whole situation.
Depression is real. It’s significant. And it is crippling.
I did what everyone does after a tragedy hits…I got on Twitter.
The tributes, movie lines, images and sadness poured out, tweet after tweet after tweet.
Each wondering how someone like this could fall into such a pit that the only way out was death.
This took me back to Mrs. Doubtfire. It took me back there because on the outside, Robin Williams was a old woman, playing a role that looked nothing like who he was under the fat suit and the make-up. He made himself into someone else, in those moments, in order to get what he needed. But inside, he was a dad, a husband, who longed for his family. But the outside world didn’t see that.
Unfortunately, that is what depression does. It convinces you to mask yourself, show the world a side of you that is refreshed, happy and alive, while inside, your heart is tied in knots, you are walking through the dark searching for a light and in those moments where you are alone, becomes debilitating.
Williams was one of the funniest men in the world. He made everyone laugh. He was ‘that’ guy. But no one could see the demons, the tears and the lack of joy he dealt with on the inside.
One guy I like a lot is Matt Walsh. He writes a blog that I read frequently. But this morning, he tweeted this:
“When we talk about depression we shouldn’t pawn the whole thing off on “chemical imbalances.” It’s not just clinical. It’s spiritual.”
He followed that up with a blog today declaring suicide as a “choice.”
While I agree it is a choice, it’s not as easy to categorize that as a common choice we make everyday.
Four years ago, if you would have told me you were a drug addict and you knew it was bad for you and you wanted to stop, I would have told you that you need to be strong enough to stop. Just stop.
I don’t say that anymore. After going through two years of rehab with someone that was close to me at that time, I learned that’s not entirely how it works. There is a lot going on in the mind that continually leads you to that next hit or injection. It’s not about just turning off the switch.
Depression can lead you to bad places, where the only ‘hope’ in your mind becomes checking out. The pain, the fear, the knots can control you. They can be mind-altering and in this case, deadly.
But this again is where Mrs. Doubtfire comes into play.
Depression is real and it should be looked at as that. But to get any of the help we may need from the grip of it, we have to be willing to take off the suit, the make-up and the altered voice…showing ourselves to those around us that matter. Showing who we truly are and how much we hurt.
Robin Williams could have called anyone in the world and they probably would have rushed to his side, told him they loved him and they were there. But Monday, in that moment of morbidity, the pit had gotten so dark that there only seemed to be one way out. How terrible a feeling that must be to see yourself not with a choice, but with an outcome to make it stop.
If anything, in his final curtain call, Robin Williams taught us one thing…
Take off the costume. Show yourself. Ask for help. Be vulnerable. For vulnerability leads to release, which leads to eventual healing. Never be ashamed for hurting. Ever. But please, never allow the circumstances of your present make you make a permanent decision such as this.
And if no one has told you today…
I love you…