I’m writing this after going to see a movie to lose myself in. It’s a late Monday evening, almost 10 pm my local time. I use movies and TV to “escape” life. I use them to relax and unwind. Tonight, it was to unwind from work. I’ve worked the last 5 days (not too bad) and by the end of the week, 9 straight days. Not the worst I’ve gone through, but a good time to relax was needed. Movies and TV are reliable. If I want something old I know what I like. If I want to experience something new, I can. I can turn to familiar faces, new favourites and so much more.
I like to laugh when work and life and health get in my way. That’s why tonight, after watching Guardians of the Galaxy I was hit hard by the reported suicide of Robin Williams.
This man was around before I was born. My parents thought he was one of the funniest people ever. As I got older and got to see his movies, he kept popping up in some of my favourites. Aladdin is my favourite cartoon ever. Sure enough, his manic sense of humour was evident in it. I’ve watched that movie many times (I have the VHS!) and can tell you I’ve tried some of column A and all of column B. When I was down, the Genie was “In the mood to help you dude, you ain’t never had a friend like me”. It was something I could do when I was sick that would still get me to smile.
He was a grown up boy in Jack, in Hook, and in Jumanji. It is an odd relation to those movies. Jumanji and Hook give an escape from the real world, where he doesn’t grow up. As a patient, I tend to think I did a bit of the reverse. We grow up fast and those movies remind me that I can be a kid still. I say we grow up fast because we make decisions adults make, we make decisions that change EVERYTHING about our lives. I chose surgery at 18. I chose Remicade. I chose trying naturopathic medications. In other ways, I am still growing up through my teens. Learning acceptable risks, trying new adventures, and remembering that I’m allowed to have fun.
I watched him explore new grounds in What Dreams May Come and learned of his dramatic turns. Awakenings in which he played a doctor and Patch Adams, again a doctor. He played them with care and concern. It made me look at my doctors differently and set goals besides getting healthy. The approach in those movies, the human touch shown in those doctors, helped me understand better that these people weren’t out to ruin my dreams and make me cry. They were there to try to help. Maybe it would be by a smile or making it hurt just a little less. Again, the movies made it hurt less. They released me from prisons of pain and days of hopeless thoughts.
I’ve watched his stand-up and late night show appearances. If there was ever a person that would just talk and get a laugh, it sure seemed like it was Robin Williams.
As I got into my 20s and my health improved, I still found times when my mental attitude would just be horrible. I’d have things to be happy about, I’d have less to be upset about, but I’d dwell on the bad. I learned about Robin’s struggles. It was something I could relate to. He said this regarding his fight with alcoholism – It’s [addiction] — not caused by anything, it’s just there… It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK.’ Then, the next thing you know, it’s not OK. Sound a bit like a chronic disease? Sound like something that can hurt you mentally and physically?
Now, I’ll still get to visit magical worlds, laugh and enjoy the gifts Robin Williams left this world. I’m sad that there won’t be many more.
Editor’s Note: Justin Thibert is a monthly contributor to our blog. You can find Justin on Twitter @jtbear3ca or on his blog at Crohn’s Knows