this week on pbs on the pioneers of television series honored robin williams. it followed his career from his humor in high school, his work in stand up, his work on television and his work in movies. unfortunately the program ended on a sour note; it ends with pam dawber of mork and mindy fame asking the question, “why? why did he leave?”
wel pam, that’s another show unto itself. let me give you a brief overview. what authority to i have? none really. though i am someone who has come too close to making the very decision that robin made.
it all starts innocently enough; we experience some trauma, whether it is a loss of a job, a fight with the spouse, or some fender bender. for a period of time measured in days or weeks, the amount of joy we feel is less than the pain we feel.
if this imbalance isn’t corrected, the person can end up in depression. often times with work and sometimes medication, the person can experience a turn around; they begin to restore balance to their joy/pain equation. if not the slide continues.
as the slide continues, the depression gets deeper. it becomes harder to get out. if this slide continues it is no longer a joy/pain question, but perceived joy versus pain. i defined perceived joy as all the joyed currently being experienced by an individual plus all the joy they can imagine ever having.
if the slide continues, the pain comes close to perceived joy. the person enters a dangerous place. crazy thoughts come into their mind. they start to imagine an end game, how to seemingly correct the joy/pain imbalance they are feeling.
if the slide continues, the pain becomes greater than the perceived joy; they lose their battle. they follow through on their crazy thoughts. it’s not the suicide that takes them; they die from the depression that drove them there.
so pam, he left us because his pain that he felt became too great and at the same time, all the joy he thought he could experience became to small.
could anything been done? yes; robin’s joy could have been increased or his pain decreased. that’s a tall order; or is it? for some examples, take a look at would-ju-of. it’s really not that hard. maybe doing one of those things would have changed the joy/pain quotient just enough that he would seen another day. and that day could have made all the difference in the world.
Well said. . I think the most dangerous place is a mixed state as well which of what we saw from his personality I think he was in often. I describe it as wanting to die and fly at the same time. I think the highest suicide rates take place then cause the high gives the depressed person the motivation to take that leap.
I think the high-low you described can make happiness for elusive. I’ve had one day of rapid cycling due to a med change. I flipped sides four times. I found that day to be physically and mentally challenging and exhausting. I imagine robin cycle more quickly than that in a unmedicated state. His stage acts show him changing between personalities multiple times in 10 seconds bursts throughout a show. That had to wear on him. In the end, Robin’s life was the price we paid for such brilliance.