A WORD FROM ONE WHO HAS BEEN THERE


By: Bhimsen Ikaika Kumar-Reyes

The death of Robin Williams  sent shock waves throughout the world.  His work will remain in our hearts.  Love him or hate him, he didn’t care.  I watched most of his work from “The Richard Pryor Show” to his last TV series “The Crazy Ones”; on that one, I didn’t miss a single episode.

What I have to say here is not out of the ordinary for me

if you paid attention to my timeline on Facebook, I have posted memes about feeling depressed (“The only problem is that when you’re strong, no one asks if you’re okay) to way past blue.  It is depression to some degree.   I’ve always thought that I was good and to some extent, better than I thought I would be in most areas of my life.  But depression can take a toll.  It can make you lose interest in the things you love, it can make you bitter, it can make you contemplate taking your own life.  We all go through it one way or another.  I and some volunteers see it every second Sunday of the month while we go feed the homeless.  Some are dealing with their situation; others have gone over the deep end.

Mine was compounded over the past few years with multiple losses of friends and loved ones.  Sometimes it seems like you hear their voices or see them on the street.  But you’ve come to realize they’re no longer with you and they’re not coming back.  They’re not gonna post on your Facebook, raid your Twitter feed, give you a call to see what you’re doing or to shoot the breeze and talk shit, even if in a different language.  But this morning, something unusual happened.

As I was at the convenience store getting a cup of coffee, a song by Ruben Blades called “The Letter” came on my Google Play.  Originally released in 1987 from his only all-English album “…Nothing But The Truth”, the song takes the viewpoint from the person who is writing a letter to his friend who is dying from AIDS.  I had listened this time but with different ears.  It was a reminder to not let anything keep you from your friends and family and right after that, the song “Airdance” by Andres Vollenweider lifted my spirits.  And the best thing about this is that, I let it all out and got an inspiration on my projects I never seen coming.  Sometimes, you see these ads for drugs and medications that are supposed to help but the side effects (read in “car contract print”) are deadlier than the disease itself.

Robin Williams was battling his problems a lot more than I had ever, but comedy was his savior, and even though he made it public that he was dealing with those issues, he pressed on and gave great performances in every role he had.  He made us smile, cry, laugh and cheer.  And that’s the best thing.

Which is why what I’m going to say isn’t going to set too well with everyone.

Yesterday as the news was pouring out about Williams’ suicide, the folks at Fox News forgot the meaning of the word “classy”.  And Rupert Murdoch ought to be ashamed.

During a report, Shepard Smith called Williams a “coward” for taking his own life.  Don’t get me started.  Fox News is no longer news but opinion – in fact it never WAS news.  Worse than CNN’s geography gaffes (FOX pulled a few also), he made Robin Williams seem afraid of facing his demons.  For all his life, Williams met them head on.  No coward would do that period.

And  – how you let that fly shows more of your character than before.

Here was a comedian and actor who breathed life in some of your studios’ works.  Without him adding his voice to animated features “Ferngully”, “Robots” and “Everyone’s Hero” as well as his talents to your feature films “Nine Months”, “One Hour Photo”, the edgy “Mrs. Doubtfire” and the “Night at the Museum” franchise, these would have fallen flat.  And seeing that they are quick to blame the actor, it’s not their faults at all; writers control the destiny.

A stark contrast is how Smith added in his two cents calling him a “coward” is how other news outlets are going over his career and its’ ups and downs e.g. the reporters on “CBS This Morning”, “Today” and “Good Morning America” talked about Williams’ career and his battles with addiction.  They didn’t dwell on his depression, they focused on the MAN and his ups-and-downs.  “Fair and Balanced”?  I think not.  And what’s frustrating is that “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” is soon to be released and it’s going to line the coffers at News Corp.

To dismiss mental illness is a threat and a dangerous one.  How many times are we going to see people who don’t get the help they need going inside a public place and firing off rounds to kill innocents?  The incidents in Santa Barbara, Sandy Hook Elementary and others like it should be wake-up calls.  Instead they are treated as sensationalistic messes played out in the media.  And you helped build up Clive Bundy and the so-called “evil Black Men”.  Plus Williams did not do ANY of those things; he fought the battle and, sadly, he lost.

I’ve been there except my life didn’t end tragically.  And I will not take ANY medication that makes me more suicidal, restless, give me the runs, makes me constipated and/or grow boobs.  I’m dealing with and dealt with a lot in my life.  Heck, even “60 Minutes'” Morely Safer is dealing with it and he is doing that show.  And yet, you still let Shepard Smith call him a coward.  You and your whole news organization are cowards because there is a lot about depression you don’t understand and you shame the people who are dealing with it on a daily basis.

 

Mr Reyes is an writer, digital video editor from Sacramento, California

Published by CityFella

Moved to the Big Tomata in the nineties from San Francisco. No Suburbs for me with its single colored houses and lawns and the excitement of pulling out my trash can once a week. I'm a CityFella , a part time New Yorker. I'm happiest in the Center City where people the streets and people are alive. I'm still waiting to buy a 34th floor condo somewhere downtown/Midtown with a nightclub. "Hurry I'm old" My politics are somewhere in the middle with a needle that constantly moves. I'm too liberal to be a Republican and too conservative to be a Democrat. Everything interests me . I've come to love Sacratomato, Its a nice town in cheap sensible shoes .

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