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RIP Robin Williams


dogwelder
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Interestingly, Robin's death seems to be causing a number of people to be more frank about their own mental struggles. I just got done reading about Chris Gethard (who I believe is Greggulator's brother) talking about his.

 

Indeed this is my brother. He actually performed improv with Robin Williams and wrote about it here.

 

My brother's really come out about his mental health struggles. I'm super proud of him because he's helped more than a few people cope with their own issues.

I'm one of them. I always struggled with a lot of emotion control. I had a few really bad depressive episodes. I've never been suicidal or anything to that magnitude, but I've had more than a few stretches in my life when I just can't face the world. I've had a bunch of out-of-control stretches where I couldn't sleep for more than 30 minutes a day but was ridiculously productive until what I was producing didn't make any sense. And during these same time periods I also realized I did things like bought three new suits or 25 albums or 100 books or something like that. 

(Money management is a REAL difficult side-effect of bi-polar and a super unappreciated one. There are so many stories of people going bonkers with their credit cards during manic episodes and amassing a ridiculous sum of debt. That's not something that's going to improve mental health. Thankfully, I've never spent more than I have.)

I had an incredibly awful break-up when I was in my early-20s that destroyed my self-esteem. I will spare you the details, but never, ever date someone who will go out of their way to crush your will to live if things don't work out. I saw a doctor then who was really great. He helped me out a ton and we talked about the symptoms of bi-polar I had. He was REALLY conservative about giving out medication, so I didn't go on anything. Instead, he just taught me how to take things a a minute at a time and to try and enjoy life in order to handle the crap we have to face.

(This board was a definite help. There are a lot of kindred spirits on here into the same kind of music and, duh, rasslin'.)

 

I really lost the map when I was 28. I was really up-and-down emotionally for that year and had a bunch of major life changes -- getting engaged/married, finishing grad school, new jobs, buying a house, embarking on a hobby in comedy. I was fired from my job (writing about hearing aides -- ugh) and just hit an emotional wall. My brother really looked out for me -- he could relate, obviously -- and I was diagnosed as bi-polar. I no longer could exert the energy needed to keep myself in a stable state-of-mind and he saw that more than anyone else. So I got more help and got on medication and it changed my life.

Seriously, screw anyone who says that stuff doesn't help. I take medication every morning. I still have my ups-and-downs but I have clarity and focus. I recognize when I'm manic and depressed and take measures to get myself back in order.

But taking those first steps IS hard. It's sort of a guessing game as to what kind and how much of what medication is needed. There can be some unexpected side-effects that can make stuff even harder fora  time period. Health insurance stuff can also get really confusing with that and, if you're brain is confused (which is what mental illness is, essentially), it adds to the frustrations.

But once things click, life all of a sudden becomes a lot more clear. I control what I suffer from as opposed to it controlling me. That doesn't mean it goes away entirely -- it doesn't -- but it does make it a LOT easier.

I wish I got help way earlier than I did. I would have had a much higher GPA in high school and college. I wouldn't have been fired/pushed out of a bunch of jobs. I would have been more patient and wouldn't have accepted a lot of jobs. I would have saved a lot more money. The one good blessing is that, although I certainly strained relationships with some people, nothing ever broke. Any of the friendships/relationships I lost when I've struggled the most have been with people who were essentially my triggers so shedding them was a positive.

I also quit drinking because of this stuff. You really can't drink and be on medication. I have a few times and it sucks and I can't even really explain it. So I made a choice: What's better for me? Being able to have a few drinks at the bar or stay on my medication and be able to live a somewhat normal life? It's a really easy, clear choice.

 

There are a LOT of comedians I know (in addition to my brother) who have some sort of mental health issue. It's a common thread (and is a main reason why hanging out with a group of comedians really sucks and a big reason why I stopped performing.) The only thing worse than a sad clown is a sad clown who doesn't even make any effort to try and not live like that.

(I don't mean that about Robin Williams -- he tried a lot of times. But it doesn't work all of the time. But when people who know they need help don't try and get help... that's the part that really sucks to see.)

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I'm planning on going into this later, but it took a series of panic and anxiety attacks last year which finally got me to seek help. And this was for depression issues I'd had since at least 1982.

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I think the thing about medication is that we don't really understand how or why a specific cocktail helps, just that sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. And sometimes it works for a while and then stops, which was my case. At 19, going on a heavy dose of Zoloft saved my life. By the time I was in my 30s it was doing more harm than good, but nobody really realized it until a pharmacy fuckup resulted in me having to go a week without. It's such a ludicrous crapshoot, and too often we don't acknowledge that the first thing we try may not be the right one, or that what was right ages ago may be toxic now.

I have been off meds for nearly 18 months, and am now going to talk to a psychiatrist about trying a new one. Don't know what yet, but a month with more very bad days than good ones, topped with one of the first people who I realized was funny BECAUSE he was hurting all the time losing the fight, has scared me properly.

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It's really nice to read about people opening up about their issues with depression.  I don't take medication, but feel for those that are going through what they're going through.  I hope that this brings a bit of self-awareness to those that might need it.  It seems that you guys have been self-aware and I wish you all the best with that.

 

I'm also seeing a lot of stereotype about comedians.  There's a lot of people who believe that all comedians have issues and are depressed.  The deaths of certain comedians over the years has kind of fueled that, and Robin's is the strongest case.  On the one hand I feel that's unfair, as I'm sure there's a lot of comedians that are just fine in every way.  Or maybe it's a high percentage of them that have issues.  Or all of them.  I think there will be people that will reconsider their enjoyment of comedians in general.  They might be more inclined to use this stereotype to feel sorry for them more than anything.  I'm not a comedian, and certainly don't know which ones have these issues.  But if Robin's death leads to them taking better care of themselves, then it could be a good thing.

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I would say this about stand-up comedians, having been one myself for almost 10 years or so, and being related to a pretty well-known one:

It's a really personal form of expression. It's probably the most personal. Every other form of theater involves portraying a character. Musicians can hide behind an instrument. Even singers can shield themselves behind a microphone. But stand-up? Unless you're a conceptual comic, then it's just you unburdening something about your personality to the world.

That alone shows some type of unfulfilled need for attention. That in itself isn't a problem -- everyone likes having positive affirmation, and getting it via laughter is something humans really do enjoy seeking out. But when the need for attention becomes something desperate -- that's when it can get problematic.

The other part is that a lot of comedy comes from some sort of darkness. And being stand-up can be so ridiculously personal, that means a lot of comedy comes from someone unburdening the darkest thoughts they are willing to share. That's not a problem, either -- everyone gets angry or has been enraged or the like. But when it's really dark... that's frightening.

Stand-up comedy attracts a lot of needy people who have dark thoughts.

I know a lot of comedians who are really fully-formed people with positive thoughts about themselves. But I also know a bunch who have a lot of pretty obvious issues of varying degrees.

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It's brutally upsetting and frustrating that a dude who made so many feel happy couldn't do the same for himself

 

Recognize that there are remarkably awful and evil things going on in the world. Also recognize that life ain't fair, nor makes sense, but this is some soul-crushing bullshit

 

Fuck you, depression. Fuck you, suicide. And most especially fuck every goddamned person who looks down on mental illness as if it were a weakness, or considers suicide a "coward's way out"

 

I'll try to make this quick: 

 

Here's a link to Robin's 2010 interview with Maron that Johnny referenced. Worth an hour of your time

 

Norm McDonald posted a series of tweets today that summed up Robin's warmth and humor beautifully

 

Anna Kendrick posted a tweet that I found moving for some reason

 

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Lastly, via Questlove's Instagram:

 

 

 

Man. The smallest gesture can mean the world to you. Robin Williams made such an impact on me and didn't even know it. He named checked all of us in the elevator during the 2001 Grammys. I know y'all think I do this false modesty/T Swift "gee shucks" thing to the hilt. But yeah sometimes when you put 20 hour days in you do think it's for naught and that it goes thankless. Grammy time is somewhat of a dark time simply because you just walk around asking yourself is it worth it or not: all the sweat and blood. I just felt like (despite winning grammy the year before) no one really cares all that much for us except for a select few. Especially in that environment I'm which people treat you like minions until they discover what you can do for them...if you're not a strong character you run the risk of letting it get to you. This particular Sunday we were walking backstage and had to ride the elevator to the backstage area and we piled inside when suddenly this voice just said "questlove.....black thought....rahzel....the roots from Philadelphia!!!! That's right you walked on this elevator saying to yourself "ain't no way this old white dude knows my entire history and discography"....we laughed so hard. That NEVER happened to is before. Someone a legend acknowledged us and really knew who we were (his son put him on to us) man it was a small 2 min moment in real life but that meant the world to me at the time. Everytime I saw him afterwards he tried to top his trivia knowledge on all things Roots associated. Simply because he knew that meant everything to me. May his family find peace at this sad time. I will miss Robin Williams. #RIP.
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http://thedailybanter.com/2014/08/norm-macdonald-may-just-written-best-tribute-robin-williams-yet/#.U-rGiIgfkUo.twitter

 

Sorry if this is posted already but this Norm Macdonald story is hilarious and touching and worth repeating.

 

I don't generally get involved with celebrity death threads, but it has to be said that now looking around it's absolutely staggering what a huge percentage of western civilization this guy touched in some small, silly way. It seems like almost everyone has a favourite Robin moment or two.

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The details that are coming out are...not pleasant, to put it mildly. God, he must have been absolutely desperate to die because he seemed to pick one of the most painful ways possible. The whole thing is just horrifying.

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He was so, so nice to everyone in the LA Comedy scene. Always coming to shows, always staying to watch everyone and going out of his way to be present backstage and in green rooms. He would politely ask for ten minutes and then just be a ball of nerves backstage, then go up and just destroy. Just a delight to be in a room with. Pretty much every comic here has a Robin story and they're all so, so positive. 

 

I didn't have a lot of interactions with him directly, but one night he popped into a show, shook all of our hands, introduced himself, and they put him on last. He called back to and discussed everyone's set that had gone up before him. Riffing on their jokes, 'arguing' with their points. He had watched EVERYONE and really, really paid attention. I can't name very many 'higher ups' in this scene that would do anything like that. Really sad today.

 

A relative of mine used to book some comics at the local comedy club up in Marin. He was eating sushi across the street from the club and popped in afterwards. Of course he was asked if he wanted to perform after all the comics had did their time. He kindly obliged and did an hour set for about 20-25 people. Truly a class act and great comedian.

 

 

Mark Pitta and Friends?

 

A buddy of mine did a goodbye show at the Punchline in San Francisco before he moved to LA, and Bobcat Goldthwait (another class act) was going to do a set. Bobcat brought Robin, and Robin performed, did 10 minutes. My buddy was moving to be closer to his dad, who was suffering from dementia, and most of his set was about that. Afterwards Robin just gave him the biggest fucking hug and talked to him about how a brave a set it was, and just kept the hug going when my buddy broke down again. So, so cool. Such an amazing guy. 

 

 

No, small little venue in San Rafael called "New George's" at the time.

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I think the thing about medication is that we don't really understand how or why a specific cocktail helps, just that sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. And sometimes it works for a while and then stops, which was my case. At 19, going on a heavy dose of Zoloft saved my life. By the time I was in my 30s it was doing more harm than good, but nobody really realized it until a pharmacy fuckup resulted in me having to go a week without. It's such a ludicrous crapshoot, and too often we don't acknowledge that the first thing we try may not be the right one, or that what was right ages ago may be toxic now.

I have been off meds for nearly 18 months, and am now going to talk to a psychiatrist about trying a new one. Don't know what yet, but a month with more very bad days than good ones, topped with one of the first people who I realized was funny BECAUSE he was hurting all the time losing the fight, has scared me properly.

The latest and greatest in SSRI technology is called "Brintellix." They will probably start you off with something a little further down the food chain, but there are TONS more options these days back when you were 19.

 

I'm currently in a phase where the med I was on that was doing so well just suddenly stopped working, and we've been 3 years without finding something that puts a dent in it. I'm on a stiff dose of Brintellix right now and it's not touching it. My shrink has kinda given up on me/been a victim of his own success and doesn't really care about me as much as getting me out and the next guy in. Yet I'm pretty unsure anyone new could do better. My Treatment-Resistant Depression is REALLY treatment-resistant, unfortunately. I really would like to try ECT before losing my job and my insurance, but I dunno if that's gonna happen.

 

I tried to have a discussion with friends about "thresholds," how people like Robin Williams who don't hurt for meals kill themselves and yet guys literally fishing for food out of a trash can ferry on forever. It's strange how one person's "horrible" is another's paradise. I know I'm not fishing for food out of a trash can. If it gets to that point, that's my cue to skidoo. RIght now, it's barely tolerable, but tolerable.

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Zelda Williams was getting flooded by trolls who were sending her "pictures of her father in the morgue".  

 

She has deleted all her social media presence.  

 

Fuck people. 

 

And fuck social media.

 

Phil Hendrie basically described deep depression as basically feeling like you are running around like you are on fire, and suicide could be the only form of release.  

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So, I rewatched Good Will Hunting... And Christ almighty was Williams amazing in it.

Now I'm all sad again.

That movie hits me on a whole bunch of levels as I can strongly relate to the Matt Damon character. But Robin Williams was by far the best part of it.
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My all time favorite movie, and the interplay of Williams and Damon anchors it. "My father was an alcoholic. Mean fuckin' drunk. Used to come home hammered, looking to whale on someone. So I had to provoke him, so he wouldn't go after my mother or little brother. Interesting nights were when he would wear his rings." "Mine used to lay a belt , a stick and a wrench on the kitchen table and say 'Choose'." "I'd have to go with the belt there." "I always picked the wrench." "Why the wrench?" "... Because fuck him, that's why."

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