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Robin Williams

August 12, 2014

I am presently lying in bed having just discovered the news about Robin Williams. It is 4.10am and I have had a few drinks. This news has upset me as I admired this very funny man’s acting and comedic abilities. It led me to reflect on the nature of depression and why some extremely successful and physically healthy people become so ill that they contemplate suicide. Stephen Fry is another of these seemingly gifted and financially secure individuals who has in the past attempted to deny us his talents and character as a result of the dark veil of depression descending on him. What makes those whom we admire and aspire to, become depressed in the first place. Surely they have everything we can only dream of.

I myself have recently felt “down”. Upon my bald scalp I have a sponge type dressing stapled directly to my flesh using 10 clips. This is to protect the second wound I have had as a result of the excision of a squamous cell carcinoma in three years. The first left me with major scarring to the right side of my face. This latest episode has resulted in a £2 coin sized excision from my scalp replaced by an equal sized graft from the flesh of my neck.

The reason for these persistent carcinomas is the fact that I am a kidney transplant recipient and as such I have to take immunosuppressant drugs which reduce my body’s natural resistance to such cancerous attacks. I have also recently been photographed with the intention of biopsying several more areas and am now terrified of the prospect that the cancer has become aggressive.

I take 27 tablets each day to control my blood pressure, regulate my heartbeat (I also suffer from atrial fibrillation), prevent the return of gout, thin my blood, suppress my immune system (anti-rejection) , control my calcium level, protect my stomach lining and lower my cholesterol.

I have a daughter who lived with her mother until recently and whom I saw for paternal visits throughout her life. Although not an ideal situation, these valuable moments meant I was at least able to influence her upbringing to a very small degree.

My wife and I have been lucky enough to have always had financial security to the extent an NHS salary and limited Police pension provide but have never thought of ourselves as well off. Perhaps like many others, we are wrong to believe that more money would solve all our problems. Although I’m sure it wouldn’t make them any worse. We love each other and I am so incredibly fortunate to have such a caring and devoted wife. She is most definitely my rock.

All in all I feel like I have had more than my fair share of life’s adversities thrown at me over the years, yet I have never felt what so many describe as depression. Down, upset, pissed off but never suicidal gloom.

Why is it then, that these incredibly gifted individuals ~ actors, musicians etc ~ seem to become depressed despite their incredible talents, apparent good health, lavish lifestyles, the financial comfort blanket that royalties bring and the adoration of their many fans. Even if they have failed relationships then surely they have all the rest to fall back on. It clearly cannot be anything to do with these things and there must instead be deeper and darker reasons for the brain’s catastrophic mismanagement of neurons which drive them to take such drastic actions.

Robin Williams has battled with drug addiction and alcoholism for many years and of course this may well have affected the signals being transmitted and received in his brain. But I still feel that with fame and fortune comes access to the best possible addiction clinics and rehab units – but you have to want to be cured and it seems to me Williams’ depression was the cause and not the result of his addictions. Which then still begs the question, why was he depressed in the first place?

I’m rambling. I am no expert, I am just a fan struggling to understand why so many heroes die like this.

I am truly sorry to hear about Robin Williams, he brought great joy and happiness to many people but his untimely demise only serves to remind us that the psychological scars life brings, whether real or imagined, can run deeper and be more difficult to heal than any physical trauma.

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