The news of Robin Williams death shocked me, as it did most of the world. My GOSH, he was funny! He had unstoppable talent that was so diversified. If he was being interviewed on television, I’d laugh before he even spoke because I knew something outrageous was coming. He was also kind and humble… A true humanitarian. He not only had a family who loved him, the world loved him. When I found out he had taken his own life, all I could think about was his self image.
Self image is the idea one has of one’s abilities, appearance and personality. Self image is not about ego or being arrogant. It’s what kind of person we see ourselves as. The three key ideas of self image are what do we see as our abilities, how do we feel about the way we look and how do we view our personality?
We may be surprised to find our self image can be very different than how the rest of the world sees us. Some individuals who appear to have it “all” may have a very poor self image. On the flipside, we may be surprised people we view as having a difficult life may have a very positive self image.
Our self image has an extremely strong impact on our happiness, and our view on life can greatly affect those around us. If you radiate a positive vibe, that’s how you will be perceived by society, and vice versa.
These ideas of self image are not based on my opinion; it’s based on my research. I had been aware of the definition of self image and how it affects us from a previous article I wrote. Understanding from my self image research is what floored me when I learned Robin Williams took his own life.
Throughout his career, Robin Williams was always open about his struggle with alcoholism. He attended rehabilitation programs more than once and admitted sobriety was a constant struggle.
But you really never heard much about depression being an issue. I’m guessing that his family and those close to him were aware of it to some degree, but how much?
Robin Williams death is so tragic to me because here is an individual that not only achieved so many of the things in life we all dream of, (fortune, fame, a career he seemed made for, children, family, true friends), he could also make the entire world laugh. Except himself.
Throughout my journey living with SCI, I have had some very low points. Times where I’ve been on my knees (figuratively), and have felt so much hopelessness and despair that I didn’t think I could go on.
More accurately, I didn’t want to go on. I was done dealing with the bullshit SCI can bring. The long-lasting secondary health issues making you feel as sick as a dog (as if the paralysis wasn’t enough.) The near impossibility of finding good home health care, the constant financial stress, twenty years feeling smothering guilt how my injury affects my family, months upon months of hospital stays… I could go on.
This despair I felt at these times was horrible, inescapable and so very sad. But what would ultimately happen somewhere inside me, I felt a little piece of grit in my gut that gave me the strength to reach out. Like a drowning person whose hand suddenly pops out of the water… and someone would always grab back. Or vice versa… A hand, a heart, suddenly appeared and finding enough desire to go on, I would grab back.
Thinking about my own self image, I believe that little piece of grit I find within is my self image, telling me I’m worthy enough to be here. I deserved to enjoy my family, my friends, my work, my adventures, my life.
Thank the Universe those lows are few and far between because they are wretched to experience. But during those lows, as sad and hopeless as I felt, I’ve never felt I had to end my life to escape it.
When I think of how sad and helpless and desperate Robin Williams must have felt to end his own life, I cannot imagine the magnitude of these feelings. And I can’t imagine how low his self image was.
If you are feeling desperate and alone, reach out. To anyone. A friend, a family member, a stranger, a hotline. Someone will grab you and pull you above water. That’s where you start.
Realizing people care about you will instantly boost your self image. And as your self image improves, these horrible desperate times we experience will be fewer and farther between, and your grit in your gut will grow. A more positive self image will give you the strength to thrust your hand above the water.
Oh Captain, My Captain, I’m standing on my desk for you. Thank you for reminding me during my own dark times, you can find laughter anywhere. Where ever you are, I know you have everyone laughing. Now it is your turn, too.