Last year’s news on Emotional Health has shown some true understanding. Big stars got involved in the movement. Lady Gaga discussed mental health openly with Prince William, Katy Perry shared personal moments on video, JK Rowling has been in the media declaring her suffering with depression, Russell Brand release his new book ‘Addiction’ and Jane Parks – UK’s youngest lottery winner Tweeted her stresses to the world.
Even with all this media being share, Robin Williams is still topping the headlines frequently since his tragic suicide in 2014, that shook the world.
We all make jokes out of tragedy as a way of coping – Robin Williams being a top master of creating exactly that sort of humour, yet with depression in real life, we simply ignore it.
Robin Williams’ death was such irony to the humour that he had displayed for many years. There was always that deep and sensitive side to his acting, that showed a real connection through his eyes, with the pain people feel in real life.
In Mrs Doubtfire Robin Williams portrayed brilliantly, the pain of separation from his children, losing his home and his wife, while trying to find himself again through his work.
In Good Morning Vietnam he showed the stress of war, the pain of trying to fit in and connect with people in a whole different world, losing people around you and coping with PTSD while still trying to put on a brave face for the public. He also played out the pain of falling in love, through the barriers of war, language, culture and age.
In Good Will Hunting he talked of the pain of growing up in an abusive family or trying to make it in the world when you feel different to everyone else, or his part of having lost someone you love dearly. He showed the pain of finding yourself again, when you feel like everything you’ve lived for has gone. Again, finding that purpose was a key part to overcoming his own depression, helping Will Hunting to overcome his demons.
In Dead Poets Society he showed the anxiety of seeing young man destroy himself emotionally due to the pressure of his father, when all the help was there. He just had to ask his teacher for help, yet didn’t. Supporting the other students through emotional challenges while dealing with his own challenges, and the red-tape of the educational establishment.
In Patch Adams, he portrayed the actual mental health patient, who made changes, regained his life and career, only to have another tragic change happen that took away his faith again. He portrayed brilliantly the pain of seeking a purpose in life and the joys of achieving the same. He showed brilliantly, the vulnerability that comes with having empathy for others and the strength it takes to keep that empathy out in front.
In each role, Robin shared the true nature of depression, emotional intelligence, and empathy with perfection. That doesn’t happen without experiencing all these emotion in real life.
Robin Williams’ films, although funny and entertaining in parts, are written and acted to send a message – to make the world a better place, and for people to NEVER give up.
Watching any of these films, teaches us the signs to look out for. The subtleties of stress, anxiety and depression. The emotional blindness that can prevent someone being saved from suicide. The simple things you can do to make a massive difference in someones life – including your own.
His films only help if we listen to the real message between the humour. The message that comes from his heart as much as his acting.
All these films highlight the need for more emotional intelligence, the need for compassion, the need to talk and the need to listen.
My own son was almost another statistic as young as eight. His journey with depression has guided my journey with emotional intelligence and a deeper empathy with Robin Williams’ films.