This week NPR played an interview with Robin Williams from 2006. He stated that he had never suffered from depression but had felt deep sadness. As a person who’s had depression multiple times since my late teens, I had a difficult time understanding how someone who lived almost 60 years without depression could become so depressed that he could take his own life.
Then his wife announced today that Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. With my experience in the Parkinson’s community, both as a family member, advocate, and outreach coordinator for the NPF, I’ve seen and heard many stories about the depression that accompanies the diagnosis. Williams was such an physical performer. He had such impressive vocal skills. He was so animated. Unfortunately, Parkinson’s slow takes away those talents by inhibiting moving from reduced dopamine production. It takes away your voice with dysphonia. It reduces your ability to express yourself through facial expressions.
It easy to say that I know that living with Parkinson’s is not a death sentence. I know that life with PD is worth living. But I also can say that I understand just a little bit better. It’s hard to see which way is up when you’re sink down, down, down. We’ve all lost a great friend. The world was a better place when Robin Williams was in it. I hope he finds peace and his body renewed in the afterlife.