Losing Robin Williams—The Dark Side of Those Who Make Us Laugh

 

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Suicide. It’s a topic that’s been on most of our minds as of late. I was BROKEN when I found out about Robin Williams. It’s like this bright shining star just snuffed out, leaving only a black hole of crushing emptiness behind. I feel terrible for taking him for granted, selfishly assuming he’d always be around.

I haven’t yet cried because I’m afraid I might not stop. My fondest childhood memories involve Mork & Mindy. Growing up, I’d watch Williams’ comedic acts over and over and over, studying his timing and how he could do what he did, because to me? It was MAGIC. In fact, I can honestly say he was my earliest mentor. I learned to laugh and make others laugh, and, since home and school were living nightmares, laughter was my lifeline.

I’m no expert aside from having suicide issues in the family. Also, years ago, I suffered horrific depression after being on the phone with my father when he unexpectedly died. No one realized he had cancer until after the autopsy, because he was always making everyone laugh, always smiling and making us smile…until he was gone.

While I won’t get into a discussion regarding suicide and depression, I’d like to address some reasons many were so sideswiped when Robin Williams took his life. Obviously I can only speak from my own perspective as a humor author and chronic class clown.

Humor is Birthed From Pain

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Ever notice the high mortality rates among comedians? Self-destruction is common. One reason is that humor is an amazingly powerful defense mechanism. I switched high schools six times and was poor, thus the target of every group of Mean Girls (which come standard). In my freshman year I turned inward and fell into terrible depression. Then I learned how powerful humor could be. It could be a weapon.

The right turn of phrase could decimate an attacker.

Humor can also be body armor. Funny people use laughter to minimize pain so we can cope. Maybe we come from a background where we aren’t allowed to express hurt, pain, sorrow, disappointment, and so making jokes becomes a way of staying sane. Or maybe there is so much pain that humor is the only way to keep from overloading. This is common among police officers, soldiers, doctors, and any profession bombarded with tragedy.

Gallows humor.

Never Let Them See You Sweat

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Yep, my family, LOL.

I’ve been guilty of this (being the comedian of the family). I love making others laugh and never lose my sense of humor. When I was admitted to give birth to The Spawn, the attending nurse crashed every single vein trying to get an IV in me (until I politely asked if my mom could do it—she is an RN). The nurses missed inserting my epidural (the needle that goes into the spine) seven times. Yet, to the end and through every contraction, I had everyone laughing, even though I was in agony.

When I was 22, I finally had to have four impacted wisdom teeth removed. I couldn’t afford an oral surgeon and so the dentist gave me the anesthesia and proceeded to chisel all four teeth out of my jaw. My roommate who brought me said all she could hear from the room was the staff laughing to the point of tears. Apparently through gauze and anesthesia I was still a riot.

Laughter has been there to help me contend with the fear and pain, but this coping mechanism has a dark side.

False Assumptions

S-E-X-Y!

Making light of my broken nose. Hey, it was kinda funny…

I know it’s my own fault others don’t necessarily take me seriously when I’m hurting. How could they? I’m cracking jokes and making everyone happy. I’m a giver. I don’t know if life is worth living if we aren’t laughing. And if we’re going to be in pain, why not bear it with a smile? People & circumstances can take away anything but our attitude, right?

The problem is that others see that smile and might not understand that we do need help and likely aren’t going to ask for it. Or us being “funny” might make it seem we’re not in as dire of a situation.

Just ask the people who tried to get me to an ER last week when I had my first violent reaction to peanuts.

Givers love to give. Comedians live to make others laugh. We love it so much we’re often blind to when we are empty and the darkness is there to pounce when we’re at our lowest. As a community, one of the things we can all do is learn to be better at actively listening. WANA was built on this principle—WE ARE NOT ALONE.

I’ve been doing this myself. Talk less, listen more. Joke less, hear more, be honest. Listen for subtext. If we ask someone, “How are you today?” at least stick around long enough for an answer. Ask the next question.

Lack of Boundaries and Rest

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I find it interesting how the corporate world expects to be able to reach us 24/7. Meetings and “work” creep into our Saturdays and even Sundays. But how would our job feel if we showed up with our kids to work? What if we read a novel or took a nap?

Oh, what? No quid pro quo?

My husband gets business calls before we are even awake. 99% of the time, it’s over matters that could wait. We’re interrupted at dinner, on weekends, during church. When are we going to say NO? I now turn off my phone on weekends. I just…can’t.

Most of us—even the funny folks—are running around on fumes. This is when depression sets in even if it isn’t clinical. Humans were not designed to run fill tilt 24 hours a day. Those of us with a gift for making others laugh likely just don’t show symptoms as early or at all. A lot of us “don’t want to bother” anyone.

Also, a lot of us jokesters have set up expectations in others that we will always make them smile. When we can no longer do that—when we are too spent or hurting—we retreat. We don’t want to disappoint.

Situational Awareness—Take It To H.A.R.T.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons. Bansky's "Peaceful hearts Doctor" courtesy of Eva Blue.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons. Bansky’s “Peaceful hearts Doctor” courtesy of Eva Blue.

Are we hurting, alone, resentful, or tense? In this go-go-go-go life, we should be mindful to stop. Take a break so we can check our condition. We wouldn’t drive a car and ignore red lights flashing. CHECK ENGINE. FUEL LOW. NEED AIR. Why do we do this to ourselves? And for the other funny folks out there, joking about the CHECK ENGINE light is no laughing matter.

This is why I’m so tremendously grateful for all you. I might hurt, but I’m never alone and you guys keep me company so a lot less tense.

The hurting? Yeah. Covered in hives and want to scrape off my skin with a carrot peeler (go to doctor in an hour). Resentful? Benadryl kinda making me resent everything, including sounds, light and those annoying air particles that insist touching me. PERSONAL SPACE! And bugs farting. How are the spiders and fruit flies so flatulent?

What are your thoughts?

Do you do tend to minimize by joking? Maybe laugh off things you shouldn’t? Do you retreat if you can’t be entertaining? Do you feel desensitized to pain because of coping so long with humor? Do you have friends of family who are like this? Maybe that you need to watch more carefully?

I miss Robin Williams. The world is a far darker place without him. I hope he’s somewhere he can see how much we all loved him and how devastated we are to be without him.

 

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  1. #1 by Morgan on August 18, 2014 - 3:38 pm

    His life and his death are a powerful testimony to the brilliance and tragedy of the comedic perspective. There Shall Never be another Robin.

  2. #2 by Dambreaker on August 18, 2014 - 3:41 pm

    While other blogs are pointing the finger with regards to suicide in general. This points at the bigger scope of reality.

    Bravo..

  3. #3 by tucsonmike on August 18, 2014 - 3:43 pm

    Reblogged this on I am an Author, I Must Auth and commented:
    Kristen hit the nail on the head.

  4. #4 by jillhannahanderson on August 18, 2014 - 3:45 pm

    Perfect post about something we tend to ignore. My girlfriends and I talked about this last weekend, and all the “comics” we know personally who are hiding behind their jokes. “The Tears of a Clown… when there’s noone around”. The song said it all.

  5. #5 by Lucinda E Clarke on August 18, 2014 - 3:45 pm

    I had a terrible childhood and wrote about it in “Walking over Eggshells,” but yes, I use humour all the time to cope with the pain which will never go away. I like to make people laugh, and I too was the class clown. My monthly column is satire and my greatest heroine is Dorothy Parker. So I can relate to what you said Kristen.

  6. #6 by Julie Glover on August 18, 2014 - 3:50 pm

    When my father was in the hospital the last time, I found myself using humor to stay calm. It’s that “if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry” thing, I guess. I think that kind of humor can be good, as long as you don’t stay there all the time. I believe everyone needs time and space to let go and express the hurt.

    Great post, Kristen. I too remember Robin Williams first as Mork — on Happy Days actually. And I loved introducing him to my kids through Jumanji. So many great memories. Another life gone too soon.

  7. #7 by Joanna Aislinn on August 18, 2014 - 3:51 pm

    Not so sure I fit the comedic role, but I do tend to find the humor when a situation is in the negative. B/c I tend to be positive, sometimes I’m surprised at how long it takes others to notice I’m down–at which point, I am usually VERY down. I’m blessed not to suffer clinical depression, but I’ve had some situational buyouts that have most likely given me an idea of what clinical might be like. Loved, loved, loved Robin Williams. Too bad the world isn’t teeming with more like him. It would definitely not be suffering the horrors we’ve been seeing daily, here and abroad.

    Thnx, Kristen, for this post, and for your giving, caring ways.

  8. #8 by shoe1000 on August 18, 2014 - 3:53 pm

    Robin expressed our shadow better than almost anyone else of our generation. We needed him and now we feel the void because who is going to do it for us now?

  9. #9 by lalouziane on August 18, 2014 - 4:00 pm

    Reblogged this on Swamp Sass and commented:
    From a blog that I have found very helpful on many levels.

  10. #10 by lalouziane on August 18, 2014 - 4:03 pm

    Excellent article. Very well done. I too use humor to deflect. I make others laugh, I put them at ease. It’s my little gift to everyone. I also know about depression. I feel that you see into the dark depths of the human soul. You understand. You’ve done a good thing with this article.

    I have also taken things for granted. It hurts when those things you thought would always be there for you, are no more.

  11. #11 by Kelly Roberts on August 18, 2014 - 4:11 pm

    Send in the clowns, baby. Send in the clowns.

  12. #12 by allisonfine on August 18, 2014 - 4:16 pm

    This is insightful and very touching. I was a humorous person but not the class clown–I performed a lot and in my 40’s I discovered the comedic actor in me, but by then I was primarily a writer so performance took a back seat. I was never very witty or clever on the spot–whatever wit I have comes out in the writing process, but in everyday life I was the girl who wore her heart on her sleeve, and I am still am that person–although girlhood is long gone and at 65 we’re into old age here! At any event, what struck me was the realization that humorous folks who make us laugh are usually using their comedic performance abilities to cover anger, shame and tremendous pain. It’s a defense mechanism. The problem is that we live in a society where everything is commodified–especially people and their talents. Because of this, those who touch us with the truth through humor with the kind of genius Williams had are scooped up quickly by the powers that be–the producers, directors, writers who want to use people like this and their talents to make money. Williams became, in my eyes, a performing monkey and no one ever addressed the deeper gestalt underneath–which is true of many artists and performers, so he’s not alone here. In addition, filling in between the lines, it sounds to me like the end of his life was being surrounded by people (including his wife, perhaps) who made him feel more lonely, and the diagnosis he received recently may have just been the final straw that pushed him over the edge. Peter Coyote, who, like me is a practicing Zen Buddhist (he is a monk I am an unofficial nun) spoke brilliantly about ways Robin could have moved through this season of his life, but he didn’t have the right people and support around him to do this, and maybe, he just wasn’t able to get there. He will be missed because in spite of what I have said, his ability to cut through the garbage and clarify the human condition with laughter was absolute genius! We have all been made better by his presence on earth!

    • #13 by Grace Grażyna Tallar on August 19, 2014 - 8:11 am

      Making so many assumptions about public person might be dangerous thing. I believe that it is exactly what Robin Williams wanted to avoid – “psychoanalysts” among his viewers. ” Performing monkey” – this term seems to be pejorative and not adequate to Robin’s class and talent.

  13. #14 by John Holton on August 18, 2014 - 4:19 pm

    My mother (who I loved dearly, despite everything) looked at us with scorn any time any of us tried to be funny. As such, my brothers and I developed this warped sense of humor that helped us get thru it all. Come to think of it, we were the only ones that thought we were hilarious…

  14. #15 by Cheryel Hutton on August 18, 2014 - 4:26 pm

    You always make me laugh–and make me think. I’ve learned so much from you, not only because of the wonderful content of your blog, but also from the way you blend information and humor. It has been very freeing to see you do this, and realize I could too (repressive childhood).Keep up the good work Kristen!

    And if you need me, I’m here.(((hugs)))

  15. #16 by pattynicnac on August 18, 2014 - 4:42 pm

    Being entertaining can be exhausting! It’s so hard to be “on” all the time and not allow ourselves the down time we need to recharge. I know I experience this when I’m “on” – others don’t always understand my need to recoup but I do it anyway. Thanks. Nice post! Reminds me how lucky I am.

  16. #17 by Muffy WIlson on August 18, 2014 - 4:44 pm

    I have never been moved to tears by anyone’s death outside my family, and even then, some of those didn’t break my heart; I am even looking forward to some of my relatives embracing the ‘Big Chill’. But, Robin? Something died inside me, too, when he died. I don’t focus on, nor do I discuss, his depression or refer to his death as suicide because I would be effected just as profoundly, no matter the cause of his death. I am Robin’s age, actually, I’ll be 65 in September. When he flew in as Mork and discovered life on Earth, I was discovering my life, too. He was funny, irreverent, inexperienced in the ways of we Earthlings. Hey, me too! We found our way together. He was a roller coaster ride and I had the time of my life with him. I saw every one of his movies and own most of them. I cannot say that about other entertainers. He was like a brother from another mother that I would stand in the corner gossiping with about other family members, laughing at their expense, our fodder for life. His death moved me to tears, sobbing in fact, and I am not embarrassed to admit it. We grew up together and I will miss him. If you have never seen his, “What Dreams May Come” do so. It is the search we all live daily. His star burns a little brighter at night and I am saddened by his death. Permit me to reblog this wonderful article on my MuffyWilson blogspot site.

    • #18 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 18, 2014 - 4:52 pm

      Repost away! I know. I’ve seen every movie and performance. I feel like part of me has died. But good things, great things came fr his life and will blossom from his death.

  17. #19 by Liz Crowe on August 18, 2014 - 4:46 pm

    Anyone who has dealt with a family member who has bi-polar disorder or depression knows that it’s a real balancing act–the person is “Up” or they’re “down” and when they’re medicated they’re pissed off because they’re “neither.” It’s an awful disease. I listened with dismay to Terri Gross’ Fresh Air (NPR) interview with Robin williams last Tuesday from 2006 (I think) in which he was so unbelievably “up” he actually declared that he had “no mental issues whatsoever.” I wish I had heard the interview IN 2006 because to me it sounded like a classic “manic” phase. The man was a comic genius. But I am not at all surprised now (after hearing that interview especially) that he suffered from manic depression and resisted it. I am actually writing a character into my new series who suffers similarly and how his large family tries to force him to medicate to the point where he rebels and stops taking anything. thanks for this lovely post, as usual.
    Liz

  18. #20 by tracikenworth on August 18, 2014 - 4:59 pm

    He was one of the best. I’m sure wherever he is, he has the arms of love wrapped around him and can at last, be at peace.

  19. #21 by Michelle Morrison on August 18, 2014 - 5:12 pm

    Great post about something that too often is swept under the rug. Robin Williams will be missed. Mork & Mindy meant a lot to me, as has his other work. It’s so very sad he felt he had no other options.

  20. #22 by Michelle Morrison on August 18, 2014 - 5:13 pm

    Reblogged this on mchllmdm and commented:
    Some good thoughts here.

  21. #23 by ontyrepassages on August 18, 2014 - 6:04 pm

    The day after he died I watched clips of his performances all day and cried. I cried partly because he was such a huge loss as a performer and human being, and also because he was someone else who lost the same battle I’ve fought all my life. I’ve suffered depression for as long as I can remember. Sure, there were the blue days and the days when I didn’t want to leave my bed, but also there were the nights when I was kneeling on the bathroom floor with a knife on my wrist or huddled in the corner rocking back-and-forth trying to recover all the reasons why I should live. For the last several years since I started learning to manage it without the drugs that made me insane I’ve been fairly open about it and have blogged about it a few times. In those quiet, reflective moments it’s reflected in the eyes. Robin had it. I recognized it 35 years ago because it was the same look I saw in my own eyes when I looked in the mirror. These days I watch my diet, get enough sleep, exercise, meditate, practice yoga, and hope that’s enough. For now it is and I’m happy. Thank you, Kristen, for addressing the topic from the heart.🙂

  22. #24 by sheilaenglehart on August 18, 2014 - 6:18 pm

    Reblogged this on Sheila Englehart and commented:
    This comes from a writer’s blog, but the content is extremely important.

  23. #25 by Lynda Jo on August 18, 2014 - 6:48 pm

    I love this thoughtful response to a seemingly senseless death. All I can hope is that Robin Williams is now at peace. Perhaps we should be high-five-ing and saying Go Robin! See you when we see you!!

  24. #26 by sharonhughson on August 18, 2014 - 6:54 pm

    Humankind: masters of defense mechanisms. I know I joked a lot around my mom’s bedside in her last weeks. Then I went home and cried myself blind.
    The problems come when we have nowhere to be real. I appreciate your authenticity, and I hope and pray you actually have a time and place to just break down and let it all hang out. For me, it’s with my husband. Another reminder today that I don’t appreciate him half as much as I should.
    Hope the doctor gave you something to kill the itch and clear up the hives. Thanks for another insightful post.

  25. #27 by tattoogirl on August 18, 2014 - 7:41 pm

    I’ve always hid my pain and depression behind a smile and a laugh. Joking around and being the life of the party helped me retreat from my deep dark sadness. If I couldn’t be happy, at least I could make others laugh and enjoy themselves. Lately, I’ve been going through so much, it’s become increasingly difficult to hide my depression. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t have to! I’m trying to get out of bed (it’s hard with the cancer, I always think–at least I have an excuse to sleep all day!) and do at least one BIG productive thing a day. It’s hard, but you gotta get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’. (The Shawshank Redemption, of course…)

    • #28 by Cate Russell-Cole on August 18, 2014 - 9:25 pm

      Don’t hide it, get help. You will be surprised at how compassionate and supportive people are. It will get better… I’ve been where you are many times and while you can’t see the way clear of the pain when you’re stuck in it, you can and will find your way out. (hug)

  26. #29 by Rebecca Meyer on August 18, 2014 - 7:44 pm

    You are never alone, and none of us are. I think that is an important thing for us to remember. I myself don’t usually laugh things off, but I make light of things or pretend I am happy, even if I don’t feel it. I have my defense mechanisms and shields. Writing is my therapy, because I don’t usually talk about negative things to others often. However, I have had many, many friends who were the “comedians,” and ALL of them had dark demons that they were fighting. While they were the funniest people I’ve ever known, they were also the most deeply depressed people I’d ever known.

  27. #30 by Cathy Archibald on August 18, 2014 - 7:52 pm

    Kristen, Loved your blog! I can SO relate to what you are saying and I thank you for putting so eloquently into words, what I have felt much of my life. Thank you so very much! I am sure this has touched many a heart!! Robin Williams was also someone I greatly admired!! His passing was beyond sad. My mother used to say that when someone takes their own life it doesn’t help or heal them nearly so much as it destroys those that are left. I hope that Robin Williams has found peace and I also hope that you have found peace in your life.

  28. #31 by KimberlyPen-L on August 18, 2014 - 8:00 pm

    Bless you, Kristen, for sharing your hurts and humor. You reminded me of the time I lay in the middle of a highway with head, face, and arm injuries and joked with the EMTs as they cut off my clothes and put inflatable (aka shock) pants on me. The attorneys of the guy who had hit me with his truck tried to use my humor to prove I wasn’t hurt that bad, despite the fact that I lost consciousness as they loaded me into the MedEvac ‘copter. I assured them that that was how you could tell my stress level – by how wise I cracked. Guess it worked – the driver’s insurance company paid me $100,000 for his poor driving. (of which I actually got to keep a little after paying hospital and lawyer). Glad you use your humor for good! Thx, k

  29. #32 by Amanda Headlee on August 18, 2014 - 8:07 pm

    Reblogged this on Amanda Headlee and commented:
    Due to the passing of Robin Williams last week, I am reblogging this post because it perfectly captures and describes the feelings that may be hiding behind the laughter.

    Depression is a debilitating and ruthless disease. It should never be taken lightly. Many people do not allow their depression to externally manifest and they lock it deep in their hearts.

    For those who do not suffer, always remember to spread kindness and show love to everyone. Leave no stone unturned.

    In each passing day, tell someone who you may know, or a complete stranger, that you appreciate their presence and place in your life. Let them know that they are not alone nor do they have to hide their suffering.

    Never allow anyone to feel so alone. It can take something as small as a smile to save someone’s life.

    For those who do suffer, know you are not alone. There is always somebody who has his or her hand out to you, ready to pull you from that dark place to make you safe. Do not hide. Know you are loved.

  30. #33 by jessiemartinovic on August 18, 2014 - 8:54 pm

    learning some tough lessons about being there for myself FIRST and then and only then can I be there for others, great post, very thoughtful and true🙂

  31. #34 by Jinxie G on August 18, 2014 - 9:16 pm

    I was kind of a late bloomer on the joking through the bad times. In high school, I was the shy quiet one everybody thought was a snob. In reality, I just didn’t want to deal with anyone because I was already dealing with my alcoholic single mother. When I go to the ER, I’m either a raging b*tch or making everyone laugh. It depends on the level of pain and how much (or little) sleep I’ve had because of the pain.

    But depression? Yeah. I’ve been stuck down in that well a few times. It’s not easy climbing out. And I never allowed anyone to see where I was in that respect.

  32. #35 by Sheila (Book Journey) on August 18, 2014 - 9:26 pm

    “Or maybe there is so much pain that humor is the only way to keep from overloading.”… you hit it right on there – when you said this I thought, “This explains a lot about me.” Great post.

  33. #36 by Cate Russell-Cole on August 18, 2014 - 9:27 pm

    I’ve considered blogging about all this, but my heart’s too heavy to even touch it. Thanks Kristen – both for being there for me when I needed my friends a short time ago – and for a helpful post.

  34. #37 by Mira Prabhu on August 19, 2014 - 12:28 am

    Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    The Dark Side of Comedians (Kristen Lamb)…i think of a tale i heard ages ago…this is my version: a vast and glittering throng of aristocrats watch a formidable obese dame dressed in jewels and crushed red velvet make her majestic and ponderous descent down a long marble winding stairway…suddenly she trips…and plummets down those stairs…the sight is so funny people can’t help bursting into peals of laughter…the laughter stops suddenly when they discover she is dead….

  35. #38 by Judi Ring on August 19, 2014 - 1:46 am

    I just posted on my Facebook page about this. I was wondering if it had been possible to let him know how much he was loved, would that have helped his depression? Wish I could have helped. This wonderful man made such a difference in and touched so many lives.

  36. #39 by Deborah Makarios on August 19, 2014 - 2:06 am

    Reading this made me realise for the first time that my wittiest moments are seldom my happiest ones (though neither my wit nor my sadness were on RW’s level). Food for thought, certainly.

  37. #40 by Rhoda Baxter on August 19, 2014 - 2:59 am

    Gallows humour. Yep. I do this. A while ago, when I was finally signed off work with stress related illness/depression, my manager said “But you seemed so happy. I had no idea”. I guess if you don’t laugh, you cry. But not crying doesn’t make the problem go away.
    Good post. Thank you.

  38. #41 by patriciaruthsusan on August 19, 2014 - 3:28 am

    Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    This is a great blog and a great post.

  39. #42 by patriciaruthsusausan on August 19, 2014 - 3:36 am

    I reblogged this on Musings On Life & Experience. I dearly love your blog. My daughter is a comic actor and performer with Second City Theater Company in Chicago. She was deeply hurt by the death of Robin Williams. My husband is bi-polar as Robin was so I felt bad, but was not surprised as those sufferers are often suicidal. I also found early that humor relieved hurt. What you write about is so true.—Susan

  40. #43 by Grace Grażyna Tallar on August 19, 2014 - 8:13 am

    Very insightful article. A lot of compassion and life wisdom. Thank you,Kristen.

  41. #44 by Maryann Miller (@maryannwrites) on August 19, 2014 - 10:40 am

    Like you, I was devastated when I heard of Robin William’s death. We did lose a tremendous talent. I also agree with what you wrote “Humor can also be body armor. Funny people use laughter to minimize pain so we can cope. Maybe we come from a background where we aren’t allowed to express hurt, pain, sorrow, disappointment, and so making jokes becomes a way of staying sane. Or maybe there is so much pain that humor is the only way to keep from overloading.”

    In my family we have used humor and laughter as a coping mechanism many times, and some of my funniest friends I know used humor as armor. I think we need to do whatever it take to handle the challenges that come our way, and it is sad when the humor no longer works for people like Robin Williams.

  42. #45 by Sarah Brentyn on August 19, 2014 - 10:46 am

    Thank you for this, Kristen.

  43. #46 by hipsterstories on August 19, 2014 - 12:10 pm

    Great post. So many comedians use their humor as a defense mechanism for coping with their internal or mental issues. They shine on stage and then can barely function when not performing. It’s quite sad.

  44. #47 by Ed Hoornaert on August 19, 2014 - 12:26 pm

    I’ve never heard an official diagnosis, yet from my experience I have no doubts that Robin Williams was Bipolar (formerly known as Manic-Depression). If you ever wonder what Manic-Depression is like, recall Robin doing one of his mile-a-minute routines, and then his sad death. Recall also that the disease is closely linked with the classical phrase, ‘mad genius’, for he was that, too. For most of his life, until the very end, he managed to channel his illness into wild, breathless creativity–and for that, all of us are grateful and enriched. RIP, Robin.

  45. #48 by andrewgodsell on August 19, 2014 - 4:32 pm

    Reblogged this on andrewgodsell and commented:
    Great piece, prompted by the death of Robin Williams, about comedy masking depression

  46. #49 by authoratw on August 19, 2014 - 4:35 pm

    Great homage and way to shed light on serious issue. I was watching an old interview with Robin Williams the Oprah Winfrey Show, and I had forgotten how all over the place he was years ago. It is actually amazing that he did not succumb to drug abuse or end up some other way. I still feel horrible about his death, and he has left a void. There will not be another Robin Williams. JoyWSimone

  47. #50 by dianaflegal on August 19, 2014 - 7:06 pm

    I have cried often. He had a way of making us all feel like he was our best friend.
    So miss him already.

  48. #51 by theowllady on August 19, 2014 - 7:39 pm

    Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.

  49. #52 by elizabethjulia on August 19, 2014 - 11:31 pm

    Great post. Thank you for bringing awareness, so many are unaware that a cheerful laughing face can often just be masking a magnitude of pain on the inside.

  50. #53 by Al Stacer on August 20, 2014 - 5:33 am

    If he hadn’t made me laugh so often and so hard, I would still treasure the light he brought and touched me with in “Good Will Hunting”. Kristen, laughter may well be the best medicine. Thanks for providing a forum to remember a life that gave us so much healing…

  51. #54 by pancakelady3 on August 20, 2014 - 3:02 pm

    I’d love to make a pithy comment here but I have 200 plates spinning right now and I am not allowed to let them drop…

  52. #55 by Alan Jankowski on August 20, 2014 - 8:43 pm

    Yeah, I can most definitely relate to all of the above…well, except the peanut allergy, and giving birth to the spawn…but most of the rest, yeah…and I too have been dealing with depression for a number of years…
    I have said recently, that given the number of articles that have come out recently, the one good thing that has come out of Robin William’s death is the increased awareness of mental illness, and how it can affect anyone regardless of social or financial stature…even the comedians…and of that much, I’m sure Robin would approve…

  53. #56 by Anjum on August 21, 2014 - 1:37 am

    I miss Robin Williams too! This was a very true and nice post.
    I joke around sometimes and when I don’t; I expect people to be serious. The sad part is that they treat it in a humorous way. It’s frustrating. So, it’s like I am alone when I joke and also when I don’t. Too bad!
    I liked the fact that people give you company here and listen to what you have to say. I want to do that too! You write really nice! I loved it!

  54. #57 by Donna Marie on August 21, 2014 - 8:01 am

    I miss Robin Williams, but I never knew just how much until I read your blog. I admire him, and always wondered about the lack of life in his eyes when I watched Flubber. And he was never the same ever since. His smile never touched his eyes, and I cannot help but think why. He was so good at making us laugh that I never would have guessed that he was suffering from depression. I also had a friend who always laughs, but would turn morose and exude such negative miasma when no one is looking. And she will deny it to death that she is so. As with the gift of laughter, Robin has given us yet another treasure: worldwide awareness of depression. I miss Robin. I wish this was just a bad dream, and he would be saying “Goooooog Morning, Vietnam” when I wake up.

  55. #58 by Ash on August 21, 2014 - 8:43 am

    Excellent post!
    It’s good to see people starting to understand this.🙂
    These people recognize the need in others from years of living rough and then others can’t recognize the need in them. We’re all starting to pay more attention.
    Robin is sorely missed. He was wonderful.

  56. #59 by Tamara LeBlanc on August 21, 2014 - 10:20 am

    Wonderful post, Kristen…sad and thought provoking.
    Thank you for sharing,
    Have a wonderful weekend,
    Tamara
    PS, you’re gorgeous even with a broken snoz🙂

  57. #60 by Grigory Ryzhakov on August 21, 2014 - 4:30 pm

    Well put, Kristen. I always thought how sad Robin William’s face was, there was always the depth there that he seemed unable to share with anyone, as if he could never find anyone who would understand it. Maybe it’s just my impression of it. I grew up in Russia watching his films, he was and still is broadely respected and loved there. The world would miss him terribly.
    I completely relate to what you have said about humour being a defence mechanism. I find it hard to write dramatic stories without humour, I get depressed. I need humour to stay sane, even if nobody else understands my jokes. Lol
    Kristen, I think that you should publish more humorous non-fiction and not just for writers, you have to say a lot about life and you already have a platform. Needless to say, I have read your books and I will read you next ones🙂

    • #61 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 22, 2014 - 6:12 am

      (((HUGS))). I think I will do that. Will you beta read?

      • #62 by Grisha Ryzhakov on August 22, 2014 - 8:06 am

        of course, I will be honoured, but surely you’ll be perfect straight away ))

  58. #63 by redheadedgardener on August 22, 2014 - 11:02 am

    He was wonderfully humorous a great talent.

  59. #64 by Louise Berlin on August 23, 2014 - 9:17 am

    Thanks, Kristen. As someone who fortunately doesn’t suffer from depression, I admit I was pissed at Robin Williams for causing so much pain to his family (not to ention all of us fans around the world). Your post gave me a greater understanding into how someone who feels the need to be “on” all the time, would get to the point where he or she would just run… out… of… gas. And if you can’t imagine letting others see that darker side of you, then you might very well think there’s no other choice. Based on his quote about being with others who make you feel alone, I do hope his family doesn’t take that too much to heart. As a dear friend said after his wife committed suicide,” That was not the person I married – she had changed completely.”

  60. #65 by Rachel Thompson on August 24, 2014 - 11:27 am

    It’s not just comedians, highly artistic/creative people often struggle. Look at Hemingway, Oscar Wild and many more.. There is a fine line between art and insanity and we cross that line back and forth. I tried suicide twice and still fight the urge. I know what Robin felt.

  61. #66 by M T McGuire on August 25, 2014 - 9:40 am

    Such a good post. And shingles… ugh. I so feel for you. Shingles is the pits. I had it all over my back and left boob (nice). I am pretty sure it arrived in the place of a nervous breakdown so I was kind of glad in some respects but eeesh it took ages to go. You’ve clearly clearly had a hard row this last few months. Maybe shingles is your body’s way of throwing a hissy fit without involving your brain. I hope you feel better soon. I used to have an electric blanket and it was a godsend to wrap it up in that. Keeping it warm seems to really help. The itching and scabs were aweful too!

    Cheers

    MTM

  1. Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged – Mourning Robin Williams | Misterio Press

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