Robin Williams - It’s All in the Eyes

Stacy Matson | Celebrity Health

You're only given one little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it - Robin Williams

Some people are experts at hiding their emotions.  They laugh really loud, they smile really wide, and they’re really energetic; the life of the party.  But, then sometimes they let they’re guard down and the sadness creeps in.  If you look close, you’ll see it around the eyes.  You’ll see a glimmer of how the person really feels because you can’t fake happiness with your eyes.  

In hindsight, the old saying, “The eyes are the window to the soul” couldn’t apply to anyone more than Robin Williams.  He has the saddest eyes.  Watch old interviews of him.  Most of the time he was lively and engaging and his blue eyes sparkled like the ocean; full of life and energy.  However, do a Google search and look at photos of him, not just press photos, you’ll see that his eyes are sad, empty, and far away.  Clearly the goofy class clown he pretended to be wasn’t who he really was.  Instead, he was a sad, sad man.

It’s no secret that Williams had many struggles throughout his life.  He often talked about his cocaine and alcohol addictions, his broken marriages, and he touched briefly on his battle with depression.   From what he said though, he seemed to have everything under control.  But, this is where hindsight and his eyes come into play, because it’s obvious now that Williams never stopped battling those demons.  Although, he was able to maintain his sobriety, the depression that he briefly acknowledged was overwhelming his life.

Remember his recent rehab stint?  Everyone thought it was because he was drinking or using drugs again.  But he wasn’t.   His publicist said that Williams admitted himself to the Hazelden Treatment Center this summer because he felt he “had nothing to live for.”  This was also confirmed by his wife who said that, Williams’ “sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with…depression.”

It’s no secret that there’s a dark side to comedy and that many comedians suffer from depression.  While in college my husband worked at the Improv and he talked about that issue a lot.  He said that many of the comedians he worked with were unpleasant to be around and were often struggling with drugs, alcohol, anger or depression.  In fact, one of his favorite comedians, Dan Bradley, committed suicide a few years ago also.  Sadly, these deaths are not anomalies.  There were many before Williams and, there will be more to follow.

I know it seems counter intuitive to think that some of the funniest men are also the saddest men.  But it’s true.  According to Deborah Serani, a clinical psychologist who works with performers who suffer from depression and other mental health issues said, “Comedy can be a defensive posture against depression.  For many comedians, humor is a counter phobic response to the darkness and sadness they feel.  And, creative people seem to have a greater rate of mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder.”

Not to say that only funny or creative people are prone to suicidal thought or actions.  Because there are millions of people around the world, from all walks of life, who feel that the pain of living is greater than the pain of dying; and they choose to end their lives.  Men are particularly prone to suicide because they don’t express symptoms in ways that are typically used to diagnose depression.  This is called “masked or male-type depression.”  In masked depression, the person will generally express their pain via addiction, anger, or other self-destructive behaviors.  In public these men are the likable, funny guys who seem to have it all.  However, the pain is always there it’s just invisible, unexpressed, and growing. 

And, although Williams’ death is tragic, I can’t help but think it was inevitable.  Suicide is a symptom and a result of depression.  Until people realize this there will be more depression related deaths.  How many?  It’s difficult to determine exactly how many people die from depression because the statistics only show how many people die from “suicides.”  The suicide number is easy to calculate though– it’s 38,000 or one person every 14 minutes.

So think about this.  38,000 Americans commit suicide every year, that’s more than those who die by homicide.  In fact, in recent years self-harm has taken more lives around the world than war, murder, and natural disasters combined.  We need to do more to help those suffering from this debilitating illness. 

Although depression is still a taboo subject, perhaps Robin Williams’ death will help us do a better job understanding the causes, put more resources into treating the symptoms, and help find ways to keep people from deciding that suicide is the only option.


Stacy Matson is a health enthusiast from Southern California and regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of the Best.

Introducing Stitches!

Your Path to Meaningful Connections in the World of Health and Medicine
Connect, Collaborate, and Engage!

Coming Soon - Stitches, the innovative chat app from the creators of HWN. Join meaningful conversations on health and medical topics. Share text, images, and videos seamlessly. Connect directly within HWN's topic pages and articles.

Be the first to know when Stitches starts accepting users

The Latest from Celebrity Health

Susan Lucci's Real Life Soap Opera
Susan Lucci's Real Life Soap Opera

I am the luckiest actress on the planet - Susan Lucci

Help St. Jude
Help St. Jude

I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver - Maya Angelou

Stick It to the Flu
Stick It to the Flu

Imagine the action of a vaccine not just in terms of how it affects a single body, but also in terms of how it affects the collective body of a community — Eula Biss, author of On Immunity

Stay Connected

Health Cloud