Last Friday, July 21st, was Robin Williams’s birthday. I found Williams to be such a beautiful person. His expansive body of work, and the dynamism and humanity of his interviews were fixtures in my life since childhood and deeply moved me. As did news of his 2014 suicide that was widely attributed to depression. I know I am not alone in my sentiments.

The thing that irks me (and honestly it can take a lot to irk me when it comes to people I don’t personally know) is the representation of his suicide as the result of depression.

What Williams struggled with wasn’t simply depression.


His wife spoke out in 2016 about what triggered his suicide, and it’s so much more nuanced than depression. It was a cascade – an avalanche – triggered by Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). And his health had deteriorated fast.

Since his wife spoke out, I’ve observed the majority of people still have no idea about his illness and its role in his suicide.

The perpetuation of this oversimplified narrative does a disservice to his legacy, to awareness about the disease that ravaged his brain (not depression), and to awareness about depression.

Since her late-husband’s passing, Robin Williams’s wife, Susan Schneider Williams, has dedicated herself to research and education about LBD, and has served on the Board of Directors for the American Brain Foundation.

You can read more about the story of Williams’s struggle with Lewy Body Dementia, as recounted by his wife, in the September 27, 2016 piece she wrote for the esteemed Neurology, “The Terrorist Inside My Husband’s Brain,” published by the American Academy of Neurology.


Realization about the facts behind Williams’s suicide–in the face of years of this oversimplified narrative–is also a lesson for all of us health-seekers to be relentless in our investigation of information presented to us, to question, and to commit to digging as deep as we can go when it comes to our own health.

I love what Alanis Morrisette said in her 2015 interview with Oprah, “I like getting to the bottom where there’s no lie left.”

As a healer, as an artist and writer, as a human, I live my life by this maxim. No matter how uncomfortable a reality may appear, I know that’s where the heat is.

Health at every level of our being is found not through hiding from the discomfort of what we don’t understand or feel we can’t control, but by embracing it and diving deeper.


Penetrating beyond misinformation, myths, and answers that don’t go deep enough is what inspired me to write my FREE guide, The Biggest Mistake Most Health-Conscious People Make & Why It’s Not Your Fault.

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Image copyright Erika Herman