About a year ago, I joined a mailing list for The Mighty, which is a website/blog for those who have a mental illness. I joined it because of my depression.

Today’s email from them reminded us that today is the third anniversary of Robin Williams’ death.  It really stunned me that it has been three years since we lost one of our greatest voices.

Robin, more than I believe he knew, was inspirational. The way he used his talent to make people laugh, to make people think, and because he seemed to be winning his battles with addiction and depression – all reasons I loved his work.

What is the lesson that Robin taught the world?  That’s gonna vary from person to person, but for me the big lesson is that reminder that you never know what is going on inside a person.  They may be full of humor, always smiling, always laughing … but inside they may be suffering.  Some people have a skill of wearing their emotions on their sleeves.  Others have the skill of hiding those emotions to hide the pain or to push others away.

No one knew how much Robin was suffering.  His family knew of his illness, but that night – when his wife told him “goodnight” she didn’t know that he had made a decision to move along, to stop the pain, to keep the illness from bringing others down.

That mindset, that the world would be better off if you weren’t apart of it, is something I understand.  It’s a twisted version of something Christ said in the Gospels. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25).  I remember how I felt when I attempted suicide years ago is this: “I can save my family and friends from the many ways I’ll mess things up by leaving this world, I can sacrifice myself for them and make things better.”

It is a really twisted thought because it ignores the pain caused to our family and friends by death.  I pray I never get that twisted ever again.  But can you imagine how much pain there is inside someone when they get that twisted?

There are other lessons that Robin shared, through his heartfelt delivery of a number of lines from his films:

  • It’s not about understanding. It’s about not giving up.” – Chris Nielsen, “What Dreams May Come”
  • “We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” – John Keating, “Dead Poets Society”
  • “To live. To live will be an awfully big adventure!” – Peter Banning/Peter Pan, “Hook”

That last one, from “Hook”, always gets me crying.  I’ve never been able to put my finger on why I cry when I watch it. Maybe because it reminds me of growing up and having to move on.  But maybe because Robin reminds us all how important and great the story of our lives can/will be.

If you feel low because of the anniversary of Robin’s passing, if you feel bad because the black dog is on your heels, if you feel that you’re alone … please remember that you are not alone.  You’re never alone and there is always someone you can reach out to.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.  You can also text “START” to 741-741.

And for Robin, continue and enjoy your rest my hero.  Keep on teaching us all how great a great life can be.