Robin Williams' Depression in His Own Words, How Alcohol Once Led to Thoughts of Suicide

Celebrity News Aug. 12, 2014 AT 7:30AM
Robin Williams spoke of his depression in the years leading up to his Robin Williams spoke of his depression in the years leading up to his death Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Beloved comedy actor Robin Williams had spoken about his battles with depression and alcoholism in the years leading up to his tragic death from an apparent suicide on Monday, Aug. 11.

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The comedian and Oscar winning actor, 63, spoke about his struggles with a non-clinical form of manic depression during an interview with Terry Gross on the Fresh Air NPR radio show in 2006, revealing many of his best-loved characters had an element of mania about them.

"Do I perform sometimes in a manic style? Yes," the Good Will Hunting actor said at the time. "Am I manic all the time? No. Do I get sad? Oh yeah. Does it hit me hard? Oh yeah."

When asked specifically if he had a diagnosis of clinical depression, Williams said he did not. "No clinical depression, no. No. I get bummed, like I think a lot of us do at certain times," he explained. "You look at the world and go, 'Whoa.' Other moments you look and go, 'Oh, things are okay.'"

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In addition to depression, Williams also struggled with drugs and alcohol in the 1980s but gave up before the birth of his eldest son Zak in 1983. The much-loved actor relapsed in 2003 and spoke to Marc Maron during a 2010 WTF podcast, about how dangerous his depression could be when combined with alcohol. 

Williams admitted he had once considered suicide while sitting alone in a hotel room with a bottle of Jack Daniels. On that occasion, the actor explained, his "conscious brain" told his drunk brain to "put the suicide over here in the discussion area" until he was sober, reminding him "you have a pretty good life as it is just now."

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Talking to Britain's Guardian newspaper, also in 2010, Williams explained his return to drinking in 2003 had been the result of generalized "fearfulness and anxiety." He explained, "It's just literally being afraid. And you think, 'oh, this will ease the fear.' And it doesn't. It's just a general all-round arggghhh"

"For that first week you lie to yourself, and tell yourself you can stop," he said. "And then your body kicks back and says, 'no, stop later.'"

"You feel warm and kind of wonderful," he added, talking about having that first drink. "And then the next thing you know, it's a problem, and you're isolated."

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Williams’ publicist Mara Buxbaum confirmed the tragic news of the actor’s passing to Us Weekly in a statement on Monday, Aug. 11, detailing his current struggles with depression. “Robin Williams passed away this morning," the statement from Buxbaum read. "He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time."

Williams' wife Susan Schneider also told Us in a statement: "This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken."

 

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