In Memoriam: Robin Williams (1951 – 2014)

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I always find myself unable to express how I feel when someone in the public eye passes away, more so if that person is someone I admire and respect, as I often feel that what sorrow I feel is probably nothing next to their family and friends’. Which is more than certainly the case with the tragic news of Robin Williams’ passing away this week.

As have most people of my age, I grew up on so many of his films, and even now as a writer, I always admired what a strong character he was as a comedian and as a more established actor – he could go from playing a wise cracking genie in the Disney adaptation of ‘Aladdin’ and an eccentric Scottish nanny-in drag for ‘Mrs Doubtfire’, to his roles in the Academy Award winning ‘Good Will Hunting’ and as an inspirational English teacher in ‘Dead Poets’ Society’.

His timing, talent and huge appeal has created a legacy that will doubtless live on forever in the films or shows we knew and loved him in (that might be ‘Mork & Mindy’ for some of the older people reading this blog). Of course, the circumstances surrounding his tragic loss have only just come to light, and with it a series of queries about the raw issues at heart.

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I think in the Western world particularly, we deal with grief or depression or anything upsetting with such stiff upper lip, particularly in Britain. There is still such a stigma around mental health, but two things we’ve sadly seen from the last week is that A) it takes such courage in today’s society to admit when something is wrong and that you need help – and for some, there is no way they sadly feel able to do that and B) even all the success and fame and achievements you make alone can’t make you happy, and that we are all human whatever the situation.

I guess what I really want to say if you’re reading this today is that sometimes, it’s OK to not be OK. And if you have a problem, or if something is not right then please, talk to someone and get help, however difficult it may seem. It’s when you talk to someone and admit you’re not coping that you begin the road to ‘recovery’ as it were, and I don’t mean that to sound glib or patronising but it’s true. Because I’ve been there myself, and it wasn’t easy for me to admit things weren’t going right for me.

But to end on a strong note, I think what especially we can take away from this week is that, tragic a loss as this is, and though we have sadly lost Robin and his amazing talent, we should also remember that he used that talent to make other people happy, which is what has created his amazing legacy he has left behind. And if you do have a talent that makes others happy then please, please use it. The world needs more people like you now.

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