Yesterday, I posted a Facebook meme alluding to how most people only saw laughter when they saw Robin Williams, even though he was very open about his depression. Just a few hours later, I found these videos from Stand Up for Mental Health. Here are stand up comics who have been diagnosed with some form (and in some cases, several forms) of mental illness. In almost all cases, their humor stems from their relations to people and the world around them.
It’s hard to pick a favorite here. I can relate to just about all of these comics. I hope you enjoy these videos. We could all use a good laugh–even when we want to cry.
I saw this on Facebook today and I had to share it. I call my blog Not Always Smiling. It’s an ironic homage to the stupidest piece of “advice” I ever got about my depression. I was once told that if I only smiled more, my depression would be cured. Yeah, right.
I’m sure Robin Williams had to put up with a lot of idiotic comments, too. I don’t know of anyone with a mental illness who hasn’t. Me? I’m tired of having to “fake” my feelings just on the off-chance that I’ll be understood. It takes up so much damn energy.
Robin Williams had a beautiful smile. And one hell of a sense of humor. He was actually quite open about his depression. But mostly, people just wanted the laughs and the smiles. Maybe he was too funny. Maybe he smiled too much. The sad thing is, no one will ever know.
Among Robin Williams’ many talents, he was also an excellent dad. For proof, look no further than his daughter, Zelda. Since her father’s suicide, she has handled herself with grace, as the family’s unofficial spokesperson. It hasn’t been easy. For a while, she had to shut down her Twitter account, because of horrible things people were saying to her there. Yes, even AFTER her father died. If he died from cancer or a heart attack or just about anything else, something tells me that she wouldn’t have faced all that ugliness.
This is a young woman who knows both the sting and the stigma of mental illness. That’s why her Tweets on World Mental Health Day were so impressive. She has already become a mental illness advocate, and a very good one.
She also clears up a big misconception about her father when she says that he openly fought his depression. After the news of Robin’s suicide, I lost count of the number of articles I read that said he was open about his past drug problems, but not his depression. That’s not true. When I was first diagnosed with depression 20 years ago, I was given a list of famous people who had “the big black dog” too. Robin Williams’ name was on it. Not only that, but he talked about it in many print interviews. In print, he could be more serious than he often was on television. I read many of those articles. They — and he — let me know that I was not alone.
I still have a hard time believing that Robin Williams is not part of this world anymore. But Zelda’s advocacy inspires me. We all know that Robin’s comic legacy will never be forgotten. It’s nice to know that his legacy of caring for others will continue as well. To Zelda, I have just one thing to say: You go, girl!
If there’s one silver lining in Robin Williams’ recent death, it’s this: maybe–just maybe–the loss of a beloved entertainer is the push we need get more funding for studies that show what causes suicide, as well as programs that could help prevent it.
Today, Congressman Tim Murphy is introducing a bill that proposes to do both of those things. I sincerely hope that this is more than an attempt to grab headlines after the death of a beloved celebrity. But, after reading Rep. Murphy’s informative op-ed in today’s Huffington Post, he sounds very serious about his commitment. He’s right when he says that previous suicide awareness campaigns have failed miserably. As proof, look no further than the myths that those of us with mental illness face every day. Rep. Murphy talks about three big ones here, but I know the list could be much longer.
Read Rep. Murphy’s Huffington Post op-ed here. And by all means, call your Congressional representative and urge support for this bill. I’m pretty sure Robin Williams will smile down on everyone who does that.