Shame shaming and Shock: Another post about Robin Williams

Can we talk about mental health now? Nah just kidding lets just wait a week and go back to business as usual. That’s the plan right? You know it is, but you’re not willing to admit it.

Robin Williams didn’t kill himself. You did; and I did I know that seems harsh. I apologize. I didn’t mean it. But we did. We did it when you forced him to put on a smile for the past 40 years. We did it when we made it not okay to admit when you’re sad; or having a bad day. There this idea that you shouldn’t share when your sad, angry or having a bad day on Facebook. “Just people wanting attention,” some will say. As if posting the twenty pics of baby’s first visit to the petting zoo was you trying to be inconspicuous.

I call it shame shaming. It’s the culture of encouraging people to hide their problems and only share good times, great times. Share pictures of your wedding, but try not to talk about your divorce. Nobody wants to hear about it. It’s the an unfortunate double standard that creates an artificial air of success and happiness that is just unrealistic. It encourages people to put on their happy face even when it doesn’t fit.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the past couple days have been a little rough for anybody who has dealt with these issues in the past. Robin Williams was successful by any possible metric of success, but still at 63 hadn’t run far enough to outpace his demons. And if he couldn’t do it. How long before the rest of us mortals are tracked down and dragged kicking and screaming into darkness.
Somewhere in the more optimistic recesses of my mind (the parts that have yet to be crushed by thirty years of living in this world) I kind of hope that this night galvanize the movement to take mental illness more seriously. Maybe Williams will become what Magic Johnson was to AIDS.

He wasn’t a coward. Maybe the true cowards are us, the one who not only hide the pain, but make everybody else hide theirs. Maybe he just got tired. He put on his happy face until he just couldn’t anymore. And maybe we are all responsible.


About Ben Faulding

Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island. I found my way to Judaism during my twenties. I'm currently a direct care worker for adults with special needs and I live in Crown Heights.
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