*Like so many people, I was saddened by the death of award winning actor Robin Williams.
The disease of depression appeared to have wrapped itself around Williams and literally squeezed the life from the 63-year-old “Good Will Hunting” star.
Terrie Williams knows firsthand about depression. The licensed psychotherapist and celebrity public relations expert experienced it saying she “had a severe bout of depression about 8 to 10 years ago.”
It was a very debilitating time she explains:
“I didn’t want to face daylight. I just didn’t have the energy to get up shower (and) dress and put the mask on – whether it was with regard to my business or whether or not it was going to speak in front of hundreds or thousands of people.”
In 1983, the President of The Terrie Williams Agency would write the bestseller “Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting.”
It’s clear that Robin Williams was hurting profoundly – so much that he took his own life.
He wore the mask poet Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote about “the mask that grins and lies.”
We saw the Oscar winner smile giving autographs to fans – making everyone laugh giving morning and late night network TV show interviews with his energetic antics – but it seems internally he was suffering.
A statement from his wife, Susan Schneider, gave some insight into his personal life.
“Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly,” Schneider wrote.
Terrie Williams says, “That was a lot. I think that so often many people who do entertain us they are the ones who suffer the most. Very very ironic – especially comedians who make everyone laugh and then on the inside they’re dying.”
Be mindful, Williams cautions, of the possible signs of depression, “There is loss of appetite (and) hard to concentrate – just overwhelming sadness.”
In the African American community, she notes another dynamic comes into play when seeking treatment:
“It’s anger that we see so much in the world and in our communities. It’s unresolved wounds and trauma and scars that replay themselves because – why? (It’s) because we don’t name our pain. We think to go to a therapist, psychiatrist, (and) a social worker, whatever we think that’s anti God.”
Williams made one thing clear about seeking professional help for her depression:
“My God led me to the right psychiatrist and the people who put me on the right medication.”
If you find yourself or know someone in need of help, here are some mental health hotlines/websites.
• The Association of Black Psychologists
• National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI)
• Suicide Prevention Lifeline
• Mental Health Ministries
• The Black Psychiatrists of Greater New York & Associates
• The New Legacy Leaders Project
Hear more of Tené Croom’s exclusive interview with Terrie Williams: