O Captain! My Captain!

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“I’m moving through my personal life like a hemophiliac in a razor factory.”
– Robin Williams

This week’s blog is a little late and a little short. I wasn’t sure what to write about; as I had nothing planned and didn’t get to write much during the last week. I was looking for topics, but I saw some of them appear on other people’s blogs and I didn’t want to be seen as copying. Then, early this evening I heard about Robin Williams’s apparent suicide. It’s the first time I remember crying over the death of a celebrity.

Why am I so devastated by the death of Robin Williams?

Aside from being a tremendous fan of his acting and stand-up comedy, Williams was a sort of personal hero for me. He was bipolar, but more importantly for me, he seemed to make the illness work for him for so many years. His mania brought forth some of his greatest moments and his depression and addictions provided him with material. He had overcome his addictions to drugs and alcohol, but eventually relapsed and went into rehab shortly before his death.

I saw him as someone who overcame his bipolar disorder and became a success. He rode the wave of his mania to a brilliant career, not only as a comedian and comic actor, but as a dramatic actor also. He could move people from laughter to tears, sometimes in the same film.

Granted, there are better actors and arguably better comedians, but his work and his success continued after he had battled through his addictions and his personal problems that were certainly related to being bipolar. I don’t know if his talent was despite his illness, or because of it, but I saw him as a success story. Maybe I was wrong. Not that he was success, but that he had somehow tamed his illness. The more I read about him, the more I found out how he constantly had to deal with his depression. In the middle of a brilliant career, at the age of 63, he committed suicide. Someone I thought of has a success story could not defeat depression.

This is why I’m devastated by the death of Robin Williams. It’s something to which I can relate. I’ve made it personal.

After so many years and so many successes and so many accolades, it still wasn’t enough to keep his demons at bay, to stave off that same dark depression that haunts me as well.

Here’s the truly devastating part for me: If Robin Williams finally succumbed to that depression, how do I ever stand a chance?

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One thought on “O Captain! My Captain!

  1. I’ve always thought the hardest part of being famous would be the loneliness and doubt. When you’re a regular person, you know more or less who actually enjoys your company and who your friends are. When you’re famous it’s almost impossible to know that. That’s one of the reasons I would never let my future children become a child actor/ actress. If you grow up not knowing who your friends are, how could you ever feel safe in the world? It’s also hard when you don’t really know who your friends are before you become famous, which was sort of the case for Robin Williams. He took up acting because his life was hard and imperfect. When he became famous, it made him successful but it didn’t take away everything before that.
    So in a way, it’s probably easier for us than it was for him. We don’t have that added pressure of being famous and can be a little less suspicious of people’s motives. Not saying that makes life any less difficult, just saying that this doesn’t mean you don’t have a chance.

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