Our Beloved Robin Williams

Written by  in category 
June 9, 2017
robin williams

A hilarious genius, Robin Williams would verbally shower us with his brilliance as we laughed until our bellies ached. We marveled at his boundless energy and his ability to be extemporaneously funny. Robin Williams’ mind improvised stand-up comedy routines which he delivered flawlessly. He was a comedic tour de force. The USC film school has established a Robin Williams Comedy Chair. “Robin was a comedy genius with a boundless talent,” Lucas said. “He was singular in every way, yet had great respect for the genre and for the dedication it took to succeed. His talent was only matched by his work ethic. That’s why he made it to the pinnacle of comedy success, and why his legacy will be to motivate and inspire young storytellers.” [1]

Lewy Bodies

What most people don’t know about Robin Williams’ death is that he had a disease called Lewy Bodies dementia. “…a severe case of dementia with Lewy Bodies means you potentially can’t think, can’t sleep, can’t stay awake, can’t trust what you see, can’t move, can’t understand what’s going and can’t be happy…. But depression and dementia with Lewy Bodies often occur together, as is the case with most dementias. This is entirely understandable; it would take someone of superhuman mental fortitude to not let such a diagnosis affect them very deeply. [2]

Brain Diseases

Psychiatrists are the only doctors that can’t examine the organ they are responsible for. Researchers know of a link between Parkinson’s disease and Schizophrenia. The key is the neurotransmitter dopamine. A decrease in Dopamine in the brain has been implicated as the cause of Parkinson’s disease. An excess of Dopamine or oversensitivity of certain dopamine receptors is one of the causal factors in Schizophrenia. [3] In recent years, researchers have begun the daunting task of trying to map the human brain. [4]

More About Brain Disease

I do not know if he had a diagnosis of a mental illness. Up until almost nine years, I didn’t either. I was considered a positive, enthusiastic Type “A” personality. Until I encountered an extremely toxic work environment, went 5 nights without sleep, started hallucinating, and checked myself into a psychiatric ward. Since that time, I have been on a journey of rebuilding myself, accepting my diagnosis and living “in recovery”. But I am an outlier. For 80% of the individuals, the first symptoms of mental illness occur from the ages of 14-25.


Being diagnosed with having Bipolar 1 brain disease, I walk the tightrope between mania and depressive episodes. My psychiatrist informed me recently that even on medication I am hypomanic all the time. I suspect you haven’t heard of this. Hypomania means a person starts out feeling absolutely fabulous, with no insight into the vivid elevation of mood that other people see. It involves the same symptoms as full-fledged mania but the symptom are not severe enough to cause total impairment, nor is the person psychotic. One classic symptom is that the person talks fast. I have always loved to talk fast. Everyone has always thought I was from the East Coast. This could be part of the reason I went so long undiagnosed. I poured my positive energy into my work in marketing. I was perceived as a positive, Type A personality employee by my bosses.

Robin Williams Generosity

Robin Williams was also a very generous man offering his time and money to well over 50 charities and causes, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, spinal cord injury research, and the United Service Organization. According to the USO throughout his 12 years of involvement with the organization, Williams created special moments for nearly 90,000 servicemen and servicewomen in 13 countries. [5]

History Will Remember Robin Williams

Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Darwin, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Abraham Lincoln are all remembered as iconic geniuses who potentially suffered from mental illness. Neuroscience can now explain why some mentally ill people are more likely to be especially creative and have more creative output than those without a mental illness. [6]. I believe that Robin Williams will take his rightful place among them.

War with Suicide and Stigma

Like we battled cancer decades ago, we are in a war against brain diseases. In the US, someone dies by suicide once every 16 minutes. The suicide rate jumped 24% from 1999 to 2014. Males from the ages of 45-64 saw the greatest percentage increase in suicide rates. The nation’s suicide rate is the highest it’s been in 30 years. “It is a leading cause of death and we just don’t have a handle on it,” says Matthew K. Nock, a psychology professor at Harvard and one of the country’s leading suicide researchers. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention April 2016 report). One in five individuals wrestles with a mental illness. The silence is killing us. Help us break the stigma. It’s what Robin Williams would do.

Danei Edelen

Danei Edelen

Danei Edelen lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has a bachelor's degree, over 20 years in marketing, serves as Mental Health Advocate for her county. She is also a NAMI presenter for the Southwestern Ohio chapter speaking to groups of all ages to help end the stigma. Danei enjoys, reading, writing, exercise and learning about nutrition.

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  • Amy Brown Krolak

    I finally read the whole thing through. I LOVED IT!! But it was hard for me because it so saddens me, all those out there suffering. Thanks so much for writing it!

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