By Daria M. Brezinski, PhD
There is much speculation about depression, demons, anxiety and suicide around the death of Robin Williams. After 35+ years of working with individuals under these conditions, there is never any one issue that motivates them to finality. A microscopic and macroscopic view of all events is imperative for understanding. Individuals, like Williams, who offer a thousand percent of themselves to the public need the equivalent time to recoup that expended energy. In the mind of the entertainer, the notion of perpetually ‘being on’ as a public persona is an imperative, especially when you are considered brilliant and sharp. In my professional opinion, although he relapsed with his addictions, which is a normal occurrence, I believe he had a handle on his demons. Therefore, presented here is a different perspective on suicide that may be more realistic than those hypothesized by the talking heads in the media.
A highly disturbing element in all of this is that Williams’ medical team did not observe the multitudes of ‘red flags’ and put him on ‘suicide watch’ to thwart his attempt and surround him with those who love and care about him instead of being alone. The sad state of affairs is that celebrities are handled differently by their medical teams than the rest of us. In therapy circles, his death would be considered a perfect storm because all of the ingredients for deep depression towards suicide were evident:
- Open heart surgery is a predicator of depression, roller coaster emotions and uncontrollable weeping as well as a transformation of personality type- President Bush senior has uncontrollable tears while Dick Chaney relentless rage. With Ellen Degeneres, Williams declared his new weepy nature over the slightest of things. In addition, medications would have been part of the post-surgery protocols.
- William’s age of 63 falls in the highest range of men who commit suicide.
- Having financial difficulties from his divorces and law suits, generosity towards others and organizations, at an age when he could have been retiring and cutting back, necessitated working harder. Generosity was his nature especially financial. If his finances diminished, he would lose a portion of his identity.
- This led to his entering into TV with a weekly sitcom, several movies, play on Broadway and a stand-up act to pay the bills.
- His sitcom was cancelled adding to his sense of failure.
- Individuals, who are overworked, exhausted and tired, regress to old habits. He recently left a stint in rehab due to his relapsing, where he presumably was prescribed anti-depressants.
- Tired, overworked and full of worry, he most likely had difficulty sleeping and could have been on sleeping medications.
- Antidepressants, sleeping pills and heart medications are all contraindicated which means that his mind may have been confused, clouded in judgment and not thinking clearly. Antidepressants alone are predicators of suicide.
- No one really knows how Williams’ intimate relationships were functioning. With two divorces, a slew of dalliances, and sleeping in separate rooms with his current wife, as well as a manic disposition, he like many comedians, while ‘on’ with the public, has a different state of being at home. To be an intimate with such a genius is a precarious relationship. Perhaps this marriage was failing too.
- In most of his recent pictures, he does not smile and lost the twinkle in his eyes.
- The greatest secret, according to court documents from years ago, Williams suffered from a severe case of Herpes HSV2 (genital) presumably from his ‘free spirited’ antics during the 60’s which millions his age now suffer. Joking during an interview with Johnny Carson about having mouth sores (HSV1), he alluded during his early career to this condition. Over the years, my clients have demonstrated certain patterns of symptoms with the later stages of herpes that the medical profession has yet to consider in diagnosing patients. Although the medical establishment has done little study on the severity of this condition over time, patients have conveyed a litany of recurring complaints. After the initial stages of visible genital sores disappear, the virus moves internally, and the afflicted become unaware of attacks. Patients complain of lower back, groin and leg pain. Eventually, the virus attacks the central nervous system. Most patients are unaware that their body ticks, tremors, migraine headaches, memory loss, cloudy mind, fevers, weepiness, liver issues, need for greater sleep and rest, depression, digestive problems, inability to deal with stress are all due to the severity of the movement of herpes within. Only adherence to a strict regime with special diet and certain supplements impedes this progress. No one is ever cured and the body tremors are often diagnosed as Parkinson’s (or maybe herpes is the progenitor of Parkinson’s. How many times is a patient asked when the body quivering begins whether or not they have been diagnosed with herpes?). Would one rather be known for Parkinson’s or Herpes HSV2?
This perfect storm of events and conditions could have created cerebral confusion. Yet, hanging oneself is a deliberate thought-through act unlike drug overdoses or other forms of suicide. SO perhaps it was not confusion at all but the LEGACY of Robin Williams “the man child” which was more prominent in his mind in order to avoid humiliation so that we intentionally remember him ‘at the top of his game’. When a generous, beloved, brilliant, quick witted, sharp mind faces sudden decline, weeps uncontrollably at trivial circumstances, has irrepressible body tremors, is confronted with potential bankruptcy, is alone, tired, exhausted and sees no end in sight, might such a person decide to go out on top? No matter what your religious persuasion or thoughts about death or suicide, Williams’ death enables us to confront how we choose to be remembered, our personal legacy. Our memory of him will always be the comic genius, quick wit and talented entertainer. After all, his message was never to, “Violate your standards quicker than you could lower them”. And so we will always ponder the Wise Genius and nothing else!
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