Robin Williams never publicly disclosed that he was mentally ill, but with the recent release of his autopsy report and the findings of antidepressants in his systems, I am going to assume that he struggled with his mental health. I can recall hearing about his death and feeling a great deal of sadness in that we had lost another one to the battle. He has inadvertently become a face of mental illness and in doing so, brought the issue to the forefront of social media.
Why does it take a tragedy to get people talking about mental illness? It’s happening every day, every second out there for millions of people, yet it still remains one of our “dirty little secrets” that is taboo to talk about. Even after the shock of his death, people continue to struggle with the topic of mental illness, preferring instead to continue burying their heads in the sand about the issues facing our world today.
As a society, we need to accept that an illness of the mind is real and can be as life threatening as an illness of the physical body. We need to speak as openly about mental illness as we do diseases like cancer and heart disease. Conversations need to happen so people can stop living in the shadows of shame and step into the light of compassion.
What will you do today to change your attitude about mental illness? I challenge you to find a way to do your part to stop the stigma and raise awareness. Reach out to someone who may be struggling and let them know that someone cares. Help someone become a face of recovery and hope that can inspire others.
I am a face of mental illness. I’m also a voice that will be heard. And I believe that the voices of a few can and will open the minds of many.
RIP dear man. I’m sorry that you lost the battle, but please know that you will continue to be a voice for many.