Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mental Illness Awareness: Remembering Robin Williams

The public life of Robin Williams is a legacy of extraordinary talent.  I grew up with Mork and Mindy, and we all have at least one (if not more) favorite Robin Williams' films.

We now  know that the private life of Robin Williams included mental illness. I am sure we will learn that he sought treatment and that his family did everything they could to provide support in his struggle. Millions of people have a mental illness and are fighting every day to survive.

Robin Williams did not survive mental illness, and many others will die this year from the disease.  Mental illness is a brain disorder.  We rely on our brain to help us take care of ourselves, to give and receive  love,to find meaningful work, to make multiple decisions on an everyday basis. Mental illness distorts thinking, perception, and decision making.

Family and friends who love a person with a  mental illness work very hard to help prolong life. Like supporting a loved one with cancer- They lean in, encourage, drive to appointments, stay up all night, comfort, seek help, and do everything possible.  Psychologists, psychiatrists, and treatment centers are as dedicated as oncologists in seeking solutions and recovery.

It is the greatest fear of friends and family that our loved one will commit suicide.  But it is not up to us. Despite the love of family, treatment, and life success of Robin Williams, it was ultimately his decision to end his life. We are all sorry about this choice, but it was not ours to make.

Robin Williams' death has begun a conversation--  Let's continue to talk about how to improve funding, treatment, and support for people suffering with mental illness and the  families who love them.

I miss having Robin Williams on this earth.  I want more stand up, more movies, more laughter- I know his family wanted more time with him too.  Wishing them peace.

Resources for help:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)  is a powerful source of advocacy for the mentally ill and their families.  Their motto is "every mind matters," and they demonstrate this belief by offering groups for caregivers, mentoring for families, and referral for people affected by mental illness.

Crisis Numbers: Oklahoma HeartLine-405-848-CARE, National Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK

Suicide Prevention Post