Robin Williams: The Hardest Role To Ever Play

Dear Mr Williams,

I didn’t know you, and I won’t pretend I did. I know your struggle, though. I know what it feels like to wake up and want to go right back to sleep. I know what it’s like to not want to face the day.

I bet someone’s said to you, “you have no right to be sad, you have everything.” They didn’t understand how much it broke your heart to spend the majority of your time hurting, to feel worthless. Did they think you weren’t aware of how lucky you were? That the good things in your life didn’t make the depression that much harder to handle?

I can almost guarantee you’ve sat in your car, debating whether or not to walk into a room of your friends, anxiety ridden because you’re scared, and you don’t know why. So you took a deep breath, put on a smile, and became the life of the party. No one ever had a clue you felt uncomfortable.

Everyone loved you. Your eyes sparkled and your smile lit up a room and people wanted to be around you. Little did they know how much it took out of you to be that person. Little did they know about how little they knew of you.

Some of your depression was your own fault, guilt for choices you’ve made, regret you couldn’t get over. Some, though, some you just couldn’t control. You longed to know what it felt like to just wake up happy. To know what happiness actually meant, because every time you felt “happy” you didn’t know if that was how it was supposed to feel…it almost became better to feel sad, because you knew how to handle that emotion, you knew it was real.

Mr. Williams, you lived in a world that has its’ own skewed version of reality. Most people just wanted something from you; your talent, your time, your money. I would say it was pretty easy for you to live in that world, you never really had to figure out who you were. Each event, each time you spoke, it was just another role to play. Give the people what they want. That’s so easy for a depressed person to do. Smile, laugh, go through the motions. Then go home and wash it all away, try to breathe. Lay back down and think about doing it all again tomorrow.

I’ve never self medicated, so I can’t speak for you from the side of addiction, and I would never try. I bet you hated yourself for it, though. And my guess would be it scared you to take a pill to balance out the chemicals. After all, the pills they gave you probably weren’t so different from what you were addicted to…just another way to chase the pain away, to numb what won’t go ¬†away, no matter how hard you work at it.

It was embarrassing, wasn’t it? To be the man that made people feel so full of life, but to be so…unable to live your own? No one wants to be the one to admit they’re damaged goods. I get it. You stop making choices because no matter what you choose, you never felt fulfilled. Depression is a sneaky bitch, isn’t she?

You tried hard not to wonder, “why me?” No one wants to be pitied, and no one wants to talk about the bad. You tried to play the hand you were dealt. Somewhere along the way there was trauma. I know it wasn’t deserved, and I’m sorry that life broke you.

You never wanted to be seen as someone who hurt too much, or just couldn’t take it. You didn’t want people to think you were freeing yourself from the pain. You weren’t trying to free yourself, you just didn’t know how to fall any farther and perhaps from your point of view there just wasn’t ever going to be a net to catch you.

It got to a point where you became okay with the bad things that happened to you, and the bad decisions you made, because hell, what’s one more? It doesn’t matter, anyways.

It breaks my heart to know how much misinterpretation there is about your condition. Mostly because no one really knew what was going on in your life, and the ones who did owe us no explanation. But also because people assume that you must’ve felt alone and miserable all the time, and that just isn’t true.

You felt joy. You knew love. You had good friends and family. The whole “not being able to love others without loving yourself” is such a crock of shit, isn’t it? I know I personally, love so many people, even on my worst days.

Depression isn’t misery. It’s wanting something that for some reason, is just always out of our reach. No matter how hard we try, we can’t catch the carrot being dangled under our noses.

I bet it was hard to play some of those characters. When you’re depressed, you feel other people’s emotions deeply. It isn’t all hopelessness, it’s such empathy and sympathy for others. It’s taking on their pain along with your own because you get it. You get them and you don’t ever want someone to feel the way you do. So you learn to spend your time making others as happy as you can, at the expense of yourself. That’s how you played those characters so well, you’d spent so much time studying the emotions of those around you.

You were iconic, Mr. Williams. I never realized how very much I adored you as an actor and loved your work until yesterday. I could go through all the amazing characters you played, and the same movies everyone’s posting about. Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire, Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, Good Morning Vietnam, Aladdin, Jumanji. We all know them. The list could go on forever, so I’ll stop there. (Except for one that’s been forgotten in all of this, a little gem called Jack.) I will however applaud you on the role you had to play everyday.

Mr. Williams, and I say this with all due respect, you were not a victim. I know that’s now how you want to be remembered, and I know your disease isn’t what you wanted to be known for. But to play the role of a happy go lucky, cheery, completely enthralling person day after day when you were in so much pain…that, sir, was the hardest role to ever play.

The world breathed a collective sigh of sadness with your passing, Mr. Williams. And I know this is easier said than believed, but you were so very loved. Thank you for giving us as much of yourself as you could. I’m so very sorry.

Respect and adoration,


“I’m cool… I don’t have very much time these days so I’ll make it quick. Like my life. You know, as we come to the end of this phase of our life, we find ourselves trying to remember the good times and trying to forget the bad times, and we find ourselves thinking about the future. We start to worry , thinking, “What am I gonna do? Where am I gonna be in ten years?” But I say to you, “Hey, look at me!” Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day… make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did. “…Jack, 1996
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