On my way to work yesterday morning I was listening to the radio when I heard the news about Robin Williams. I gasped out loud. I didn’t know much about his private life and his struggle with depression. I only really knew what I saw of him in movies. I introduced my son to Mrs Doubtfire last year and he loved it. I also remember watching Mork and Mindy when I was a kid. He was a great comic, and entertained us all and I think when what you know of somebody is being funny, their death by apparent suicide is unexpected and sad.
My Facebook and Twitter stream has been full of other peoples thoughts about him too. He’s left a great legacy for us – his fans. We’re lucky.
I think suicide has touched us all at one time or another, some more than others.
I had a phone call from an ex manager one day to tell me about a colleague of ours who’d committed suicide. Apparently my manager became concerned when our work mate hadn’t come to work so went to his place to see if he was there. The door was propped open with a shoe and my manager found him – dead. I had no idea about my colleague’s private life, only that he had a young son and was divorced from his wife. I suspect that many of us are really good at hiding things. And I wonder how many people hide their depression in the workplace because they don’t want to be labelled.
I’ll never forget him because when I came back from my overseas holiday in the year 2000, he asked me – jokingly – if I’d come back pregnant. Unbeknown to him, I actually was pregnant and I nearly choked when he asked. I would have loved to have said, well, yes, I am pregnant actually, just to see the look on his face, but I was standing in my boss’s office and that’s not how I wanted to break the news.
A few years later I bumped into another colleague and chatted to her, and offered my condolences about her daughter in law who was tragically killed in a traffic accident. She told me about a person that we’d both worked with who’d committed suicide recently. I didn’t know this person that well but had picked up that she was a bit highly strung. Again, I had no idea of her personal struggles.
I don’t know what it’s like to suffer with depression. I know I go through down periods but I know that it’s temporary and that in a day or so I’ll feel better. I’m lucky. I like to think that if any of my friends are depressed and they need someone to talk to or help with something that I could be that person.
While deaths of celebrities like Robin Williams are awful, it does highlight that depression is real, and not something that you just snap out of.