Robin Williams was incredibly, uniquely funny. He was talented actor, staring in movies and TV shows. He was also a very successful stand-up comic having last appeared in Phoenix in 2009.
Williams wasn’t just a star though. He was a recovering drug and alcohol addict who also suffered from mental illness.
His struggles to deal with both were well-known, as he often spoke of and made jokes about them. He knew they were a large part of his life.
On Monday, it appears Williams’ struggles got the best of him. He was found dead in his California home at the age of 63.
Williams, like many who suffer from addiction or mental illness, realized he was in for lifelong struggles against them. He had abused both drugs and alcohol for years, finally quitting when his son was born in 1983.
He was able to stay sober for 20 years, relapsing in 2003 while filming the movie “Insomnia” in Alaska.
After that, he kept drinking for another three years, explaining it this way in an interview with the Guardian.
“Most of the time you just realize you’ve started to do embarrassing things.” He recalls drinking at a charity auction hosted by Sharon Stone at Cannes: “And I realized I was pretty baked, and I look out and I see all of a sudden a wall of paparazzi. And I go, ‘Oh well, I guess it’s out now’.”
Williams went back to rehab in 2006. He stayed sober, working hard to stay that way. In July of this year, he even went back to a rehab clinic to “maintain his long-term sobriety.”
As hard as he worked, his addictions and mental illness were always present in his life. It was a part of him he was never able to fully shake. Instead, he coped with them even at 63. It’s a reminder that even he can’t make mental illnesses go away.
Williams’ publicist, Mara Buxbaum, told the Hollywood Reporter, “Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss.”
On a personal note, this hits close to home. As someone who has struggled with mental illness throughout my life, I’m aware of how difficult the struggles can be.
Unfortunately, it seems, as of this writing, depression got the best of Williams.
Professionally, Williams made millions of people laugh. Now, may be also serve to remind us how difficult it is to conquer the struggles of addiction and mental illness.