Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Robin Williams

An Update…Plus My Thoughts on Ferguson Shooting and More on Robin Williams

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Folks, it’s time to do a little catching up. And as I haven’t blogged very much in the past week, I figured now was as good a time as any to do just that.

What have I been doing with myself? Some editing, some writing (though the writing has been like pulling teeth). Some book promotion. Lots of baseball-watching — the Milwaukee Brewers have continued to play well, for the most part, and I’ve enjoyed that.

As always, I’ve been keeping an eye on current events. The stuff going on in Ferguson, MO, is appalling — an unarmed African-American teenager, Michael Brown, was shot to death by a policeman, and the circumstances behind this seem murky at absolute best. Brown had apparently just stolen some cigars (or possibly cigarettes) a few minutes before this happened, and no one knows for certain whether or not the policeman who shot Brown knew that. But the response seems disproportionate to the crime from everything we know right now.

Worse yet, the response from the Ferguson Police Department was about as badly bungled as it could be. Tear gas was shot at protestors for what seems like the flimsiest of excuses. And at least two reporters were arrested, merely for being present in a local McDonald’s while preparing to write their stories.

Fortunately, the state police have now been called in and things seem to be calming down in Ferguson. The fact that United States Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed someone to look into the death of Brown has also helped quell the unrest.

Compared to that — Hell, compared to the unrest in Israel, or the ongoing crisis in Iraq — my struggles with writing and editing seem remarkably trivial. Which is one reason I haven’t said much.

Also, I have to admit that Robin Williams’ death really disturbed me on many levels. It’s not just that a very funny and brilliant man is dead; it’s that someone as bright and funny and wealthy as Williams still wasn’t able to get the health care he needed despite trying with all of his might to make himself well.

The latest revelations about Williams and his health include the fact that he was battling Parkinson’s disease in addition to everything else. It’s been alleged that this may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back . . . but no one will ever know for sure.

And again — my struggles with writing and editing, or anything else — pale before the life-and-death drama of Robin Williams. So it’s hard for me to come up with something to write about under the circumstances.

That said, I hope to have a review for you later today of Victoria Alexander’s 19th Century English romance, THE SCANDALOUS ADVENTURES OF THE SISTER OF THE BRIDE, over at Shiny Book Review. (For those of you waiting for my take on DIGITAL DISCONNECT, that’ll have to go next week. I’m still sorting out my thoughts there.) Maybe a frothy romance might make everyone feel a little better for a little while . . .

But if not, it’s good that the attempt is made. (Yes?)

Depression and Robin Williams — A Remembrance

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Folks, over the past day or so, I’ve seen many, many tributes to the late comedian/actor Robin Williams (1951-2014). Some were funny; some were touching; some were things that should’ve been said to Williams before he died.

One thing that’s been said, over and over, is that Williams suffered from severe and unremitting depression. This is alleged to be the main reason as to why he’d turned to substance abuse in the past (he was a recovering alcoholic and cocaine addict), but it’s also possible that the depression got much worse due to the heart issues Williams suffered in recent years (he had an aortic valve transplant in 2009).

The mind and the body are linked. We all know this. So when your body is not doing well, that feeling of illness can be reflected in your mind also.

And it’s just that much worse if you’re someone who fights depression and anxiety . . . I know this due to the struggles of my family and friends, past and present.

I’ve written about depression before (see this post about the late Mike Flanagan if you don’t believe me). It’s a difficult subject to discuss, because so many of us don’t want to talk about it. There is a stigma attached to depression, as if the person who’s feeling depressed actually wants to feel so bad . . . and treating a depressed person is so difficult, so challenging, that even if a patient fully cooperates in trying to get better, some of them just don’t.

Thus Robin Williams.

Ultimately, Williams will be remembered for his comedy, for his acting, and for his personal generosity. He was a brilliant, caring, kind-hearted, and generous soul who brought happiness to many despite his own struggles against depression and addiction.

But what I will remember most about Williams is how open he was about everything. His struggles. His joys. His failures. Williams was an American original, yes, and a genius, too. But he mostly was himself, and he owned up to his failures as easily as he talked about the much more fun stuff — his numerous successes.

Williams’ wife and family have asked that people do their best to remember Williams as the creative, funny and brilliant man he truly was. But I can’t do that — mostly because I think that leaves far too much of who Williams was on the table, unaddressed.

Instead, I’ll remember him as a complex, interesting, mercurial, honest, and compassionate creative artist, who lost his long battle with a pernicious disease — chronic, severe depression — after a valiant fight.

I hope that now that Williams is in the Afterlife, he’s getting caught up with his great friends, Christopher and Dana Reeve, and so many others who preceded him in death . . . and that he has found the peace he’d sought all his life at long last.