many people, including myself, have been rocked to hear of the suicide of Robin Williams. Tributes to his comic genius have poured in from all directions, and many more have related their shock and grief at hearing the news of his demise.
Beyond that others have commented on the fact that many people with mental illness or stress related conditions hide their pain through humour so as to deflect those outside of their mind away from the pain that the clowning individual may feel inside.
Yet I have heard very little about what happens when such gallows humour goes to far, and when it become so engrained within an individual that it encloses them as if they were encased within a shell
Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, we are told by so many around us, weep and you weep alone, and how true yet how sad this can be when we see others around you.
Maybe it is time we stopped laughing so merrily as the clown entertains us, or at least take a moment to think about why he or she is so driven to make us happy or at least smile.
Puzzled by what I am referring to, well look at the two example, and you may well see what I mean
The Workplace clown
I know the picture with this section is a cat, and a talking cat at that, but it is a perfect representation of the workplace clown that so many of us see nearly every day. He or she steps up to get us laughing, he (or she of course) de-stresses our day so as to make our day bearable, but how many of us think about such an individual when, metaphorically, the curtains come down.
We walk away or go back to our work spaces happy, relaxed, and still enjoying the show, and we comment upon what a cracking good laugh that person may be, but how often do we think of the tiredness behind that laughter. The clown relieves our stress, and lightens our inner tension through his merriment, but that can use up huge reserves of energy, and release swathes of unresolved pain that the clown can never show or tell.
Suicide is a tragedy for both the individual and for those who are left behind, but if we learn nothing else from the death of Robin Williams , and so many others like him, it is the fact that we should listen more carefully as the clown entertains us, and be there, should help be accepted, once the curtain cones down
The classic clown
Clowns make us laugh,even if they also unnerve us at times.
They put a mirror in front of so we can see our own ow failings and absurdities, but we can deal because the mirror is a safe distance, and because we do not have to wholeheartedly embrace such truths, and carry then arround with us as w carry on our lives outside
Yet what of the clown who is left to look into the mirror at the end of a performance. What of his or her empty still room, and no company apart from the sad tired reflection that admonishes him for yet again clowning around up until the end of the day.
You never have a comedian who hasn’t got a very deep strain of sadness within him or her. Every great clown has been very near to tragedy.
Margaret Rutherford 1892-1972
Look at the quote about above, and a few bells might start ringing, and if more proof were needed click here to read a very good article about current day comedians who battle with depression.
So what can we do to help them
Is it our not our fault that they suffer so, no for often , through depression and inner insecurities, they are driven individuals who know no other way of living. Equally it is not our responsibility to solve all their dilemmas, but there are certain things we can all do
- Look out for the sadness behind the smile
- Try and be there for them, and keep an eye on the clown when the laughter subsides, and threatens to turn into tears
- Give them the space to breathe, and , most critically
- give them the chance to stop clowning.
Sounds so simple, doesnt it, but how often do we do such things. Everyone loves a good laugh, even if it to deal with a difficult situation, but perhaps, as we walk away from all our problems , we should think a little more about the clown who mis left behind
Just a thought, that’s all, but as normal I leave you with three YouTube’s which I hope you will enjoy, and which I believe, sum up everything in this post that has gone before