As a kid, I surrounded myself with Robin Williams movies without even realizing. Hook, FernGully, Aladdin, Jumanji, Mrs. Doubtfire. His voice work was phenomenal, and his reckless abandon was infectious. It's no surprise that he was often cast as an overgrown child; he spoke to us in a very direct fashion through physical comedy and wacky jokes that we loved but never quite understood. I wasn't sure what a "run-by fruiting" was but it still sounded funny coming out of the man in the dress's mouth. As an adult, I developed a hearty dose of occasionally crippling anxiety. Fear of abandonment, fear of intimacy, fear of everything I couldn't control; I had them all. I wasn't afraid of the present but I was terrified of the suddenly murky and uncertain future; my neuroses had taken over. There were moments where it felt like I was never going to get better, like I was never going to feel anything close to normal again. I didn't even know what normal was anymore, other than "the exact opposite of how I feel right now." I think that's the scariest part: potentially losing touch with who you used to be. You come to realize that there's no quick fix, no switch to flip that will turn your brain from unhealthy to healthy, from sad to happy. It becomes a lifelong process, both understanding what's wrong with you and determining how to get (and stay) better. So when I saw that Robin Williams had died today of a suspected suicide at age 63, my shoulders slumped and my eyes welled up with tears. A few years ago, I might've made some joke and quickly moved on with my life, but today I think I understand a little more why someone would live into their 60s and then decide that it just wasn't worth it. We've all heard stories about his lifestyle, the drugs and the insanity. Once he became a full-time actor it was harder to gauge his craziness, but during his standup days there was no denying that this guy was working through some shit. I don't know that Robin Williams' work was fueled by a desire to power through his dark thoughts via sheer force of will, but it's not a hard hypothesis to sell. No one snorts massive amounts of cocaine and runs around onstage like a maniac if they're feeling good about themselves, and very few people are strong enough to cast aside those demons for the rest of their days. We don't know what happened over the last few years to push him to this place; maybe he got tired of fighting. Maybe he no longer had the strength to battle back, and he never learned how to cope. Regardless, I can't stress enough to anyone feeling depressed or anxious or overall unhappy with their lives: talk to someone. A friend, a lover, a parent, a licensed therapist. For me, it was 99% about busting through that wall of fear, admitting I needed
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the way. It was about trusting that, after you've exposed your true inner self, the people you love will still love you back. I'm happy to say that at this current moment, I feel spectacular. I don't remember the last time I was this happy. But I know that it would be easy to slip back into old habits, to start thinking negative thoughts or retreat from the crucial, brutal honesty that has made addressing and treating my anxiety so successful. It took until I was almost desperate for any sort of assistance, medical or emotional, that I went to a therapist to discuss my issues. And I'm one of the lucky ones; my anxiety was never all-encompassing, it never stopped me from living. I never battled whatever Robin Williams finally gave into, but I can see why a lifetime of that sort of torment finally becomes too long. Losing the most well-known hairy comedian is a mighty blow to the rest of us equally hairy men. Losing him to suicide is even worse. You made us smile, Robin Williams, and it's beyond awful that this is how it ends.