So long, Robin

So long, Robin
Comics are peddlers of fun, truth and taboo, but more often than not, they’re an introspective bunch, too. They hawk their jokes in places with names such as the Laugh Factory or the Comedy Cellar — hardly the sort of venues where one goes to hear banter suited to a therapy session.

And yet, for the past three years, the Laugh Factory has provided both: Once they’re done with a set, comedians can see an in-house psychologist.

This darker side of stand-up bubbles beneath the surface of comedy, obscuring itself until tragedy strikes — tragedy such as the death of beloved comedian and actor Robin Williams.

Williams once told an interviewer that he struggled with depression, but hadn’t been diagnosed with either ‘clinical depression’ or bipolar disorder.

Williams, who  had been struggling with depression before his apparent suicide on Monday, told Terry Gross on the ‘Fresh Air’ NPR radio show in 2006 that mania was something he imitated for characters he sometimes performed. But depression, he said, was more personal.

‘Do I perform sometimes in a manic style? Yes,’ Williams said. ‘Am I manic all the time? No. Do I get sad? Oh yeah. Does it hit me hard? Oh yeah.’

When Gross asked specifically if he had been diagnosed with clinical depression, Williams answered: ‘No clinical depression, no. No. I get bummed, like I think a lot of us do at certain times. You look at the world and go, ‘Whoa.’ Other moments you look and go, ‘Oh, things are okay.’’

Preliminary reports suggest that Robin Williams asphyxiated himself in his Tiburon, California home on Monday. According to his publicist, he was battling ‘severe depression.’

Williams struggled with drugs and alcohol in the 1980s, but quit after the 1982 overdose death of his friend John Belushi.

He relapsed in 2003 and finished treatment in 2006, a few months before the interview with Gross.In 2006, he checked himself into rehab after a relapse and he also self-medicated to try and handle the ‘problem’ better.

Last month, Williams checked into Hazelden, a rehabilitation facility in Minnesota.

Williams told Diane Sawyer of ABC News just after his two-month treatment for alcoholism in 2006 that a falling back into the addiction was gradual and inevitable in a lot of cases.

In July 2014, the actor checked himself into the Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center in Minnesota in an effort to maintain his sobriety, his publicist said at the time.

‘It’s the same voice thought that ... you’re standing at a precipice and you look down, there’s a voice and it’s a little quiet voice that goes, “Jump”,’ Williams told Sawyer. ‘The same voice that goes, “Just one...” And the idea of just one for someone who has no tolerance for it, that’s not the possibility.’



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