Loneliness in the Crowd

So many are mourning the loss of Robin Williams today. Most of us didn’t even know him personally, but I think Kyle Richards said it best:

I loved him without knowing him & feel like I’ve lost a friend..”

Fortunately, depression and mental illness have once again taken center stage in our conversations since the shocking news about Robin yesterday. I don’t think I’ve ever received news of a suicide and not been shocked, but what makes ones like these so incredibly sad for me is the disconnect between what we see on the outside and what we ultimately discover was lying beneath the surface. Until a news report this morning, I’d honestly forgotten about Robin’s struggles with addiction. Like many, all I saw was the extremely talented actor who not only made us laugh seemingly without effort, but who was also able to execute award-winning roles of a more serious nature, equally as successfully.

It’s always so sobering to consider how many of us are hiding so much pain. I’ve said it before: You never know what’s really going on in people’s lives. So much hurt, anger, loneliness, anxiety, desolation, hopelessness, confusion, and fear cross our paths daily.

I came to terms once again with this realization almost one year ago, when the news broke of Gia Allemand’s death. The season she was on “The Bachelor” was one of the few I followed closely, and I remember really liking her, so her death really struck me. Here was this bubbly, extremely likable, absolutely gorgeous woman, and underneath it all, she was in such turmoil. It just didn’t add up. When her mother (Donna Micheletti) appeared on the Dr. Phil show about one month later, I recorded it, and her words have stuck with me ever since:

Donna: She’d get insecure and go to a dark spot and she’d feel like nobody cared. She would just snowball…She’d look for excuses in people to find faults and push them away because she just got too fearful ’cause she was always afraid of abandonment.

Dr. Phil: What was she afraid of?

Donna: Being rejected…Let them in…you’re feeling that you don’t have anybody, but you’re pushing them all away.

Dr. Phil: That’s what Gia did. She was pushing away what she needed most.

Donna: She wouldn’t reach out. Exactly.

I’ll close by echoing what I’ve seen posted by so many on social media during the past 24 hours:

Reach out. Someone cares.

I’m well aware that pushing everyone away and hiding in your shell is comfortable, but it can be dangerous.

Reach out…from the other side as well.

Many times, we simply have no idea there’s anything wrong. But sometimes we do, and it’s uncomfortable to say anything. We don’t want to pry. We don’t want to seem nosy. And we don’t want to make that person uncomfortable. But sometimes (certainly not always) just a simple, “Are you ok?” can make a difference. It’s easier to say than, “I wish I would’ve said something.”

R.I.P., Robin. I so wish you saw another way to cope, but in the words of Khloe Kardashian:

“Genie, you’re free!”

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