Robin Williams: when having it all isn’t enough

Robin Williams "had it all"–notoriety,  meaningful work, money, a stellar career, a wife who adored him, close friends, a good reputation, the joy of helping needy people–yet, this week, alone and despondent, he hung himself in his bedroom. Also, the news reported that police found a pocket knife close to his body that he used to self-inflict "superficial  injuries." Nobody's laughing now, as people search for answers.  The truth is that Robin Williams didn't have it all. From what we know, he didn't have Jesus or a relationship with His Creator. That empty God sized vacuum within him swallowed up all that other stuff like a black hole.  All the other stuff wasn't enough. I know. I've been in that dark place too.

     Depression is a beast that takes you places you never thought you could go and do things you never thought you would do. But in the grips of depression, you hurt so bad and your thinking is so skewed that you commit outrageous acts, often to yourself.
    In my twenties, before I found the Lord and even early in my Christian journey, I battled depression. I was raised in a pagan home which saddled me with wrong thinking and deep pain. I made poor choices in my early years. I bought into the lie that we evolved out of slime and are only here for a short time, so grab what you can. I desperately wanted to be loved and for my life to make a difference, but I was clueless and foolish. I had not done business with the demons in my life, and if Jesus hadn't rescued me, I probably would have ended up like Robin Williams.
     But thank you, God, my neighbor two doors down cared enough to befriend me and to invite me to a women's Bible study. At the time, I was a mess. David and I were married with two beautiful daughters but I had no idea how to be the wife he needed or parent well. My dear father had just lost his five year battle with cancer. And I was cycling between days of depression and days where I could function. I loved my husband and those two girls more than life itself, but I couldn't figure life out. Thus, many weekends I spent glued to a living room chair, immobilized, as I sunk deeper and deeper into despair. This dark night of the soul, the place where I came to the end of myself, was exactly what prepared me for the beauty of God, His Word, and the women He used to pull me out of that canyon of terror.
        The small group of women where God placed me in that Bible study encircled me with care. Interestingly, for the next six years, my children were never sick on Bible study day. Little by little, the depression lifted as I learned that although my mother did not love me, God loved me, and He became my perfect parent. As I studied the Scriptures I learned wisdom, skill in everyday living, and I became a voracious reader of divine literature and books by godly Christian authors. They all mentored me. Fifteen years later I was teaching women the Bible and attending seminary to become a better Bible teacher.
        Women in that Bible study saw potential in me that I never saw in myself, and they invested in me. I began to invest in others and found a place to serve. Over the years that black hole of emptiness filled and healed, as over the years, I grow stronger in the Lord. Depression has not plagued me for over thirty years. Praise God! I don't know if I'll ever battle it again. I hope that the well of inner strength will be enough should  life implode again. I'm trusting in God's grace.
          What are the lessons for us as we contemplate Robin Williams' suicide? Sometimes we back off sharing our faith with people who seem to have it all. We think–they don't know they need God. They won't listen. But we never know what's going on in someone's heart or behind closed doors. Live so the world sees Jesus honored. Converse, speaking unashamed of what He's doing in your life. With gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15), show and tell others about the only One who can fill that empty God-shaped vacuum within all of us. He's the only One who is enough. And if you observe someone lost in the maze of depression, get help.  

Dr. Edwards is Assistant Professor of Christian Education (Specialization: Women's Studies) at Dallas Theological Seminary and holds degrees from Trinity University, DTS, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is the author of New Doors in Ministry to Women, A Fresh Model for Transforming Your Church, Campus, or Mission Field and Women's Retreats, A Creative Planning Guide. She has 30 years experience in Bible teaching, directing women's ministry, retreat and conference speaking, training teams and teachers, and writing curriculum. Married to David for 34 years, she especially enjoys extended family gatherings and romping with her four grandchildren.


  • Mary Spiegel

    give up

    I once gave up and asked for help and was yelled at for it. I didn't have God to go to was nothing. We are children of God and should be like little children. I feel suicidal but would never do that to my kids. I am powerless and my X couldn't admit his poverty or lack of self control. Simplify things as it was before the money of inheritance.

  • Sue Edwards

    Jesus provides hope

    Dear Mary, Your comment sounds like you are a believer now but feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. You are not powerless because the Holy Spirit is in you, but I know it can feel that way. I encourage you to find a good church that believes the Bible, if you are not in one, and even go to a Bible study where others can encourage you. Lots of women's Bible studies will start up in September. I'll be doing a study online with women in the book of Daniel at http://www.Facebook.com/DiscoverTogerther Series in the fall I think.

    Yes, keep life as simple as you can and keep your eyes on Jesus. He loves you and your children and can provide a way for you. Good people won't yell at you if you ask for help, but make sure its the help you really need in order to help yourself in time. I'm praying for you right now. Blessings.

  • Lael Arrington

    Thanks, Sue, for sharing your journey and your heart.

    And for dispensensing such wise advice to me this week. ♥

  • Sue Edwards

    My delight

    Lael, what a joy to converse with you and to learn about the exciting opportunities God is providing. I loved it!

  • Marci G.

    Just Like Me

    I can totally relate to your story and tho I've been a born again believer for 21 years now, I still battle depression & have my entire life.  I was 42 when I got saved so I had a LOT of years to self medicate.  Some days are better than others, but the negative & suicidal thoughts still come.  It has brought me closer to the Lord, yet I still feel like I'm slidding back into that dark hole.  I now live in the country, have no close friends, have no Women's Bible studies (lots of BOOK studies tho!), well, I did go to one "Bible" study but wasn't there long enough to get to know anyone (it was one of those six week courses).  Even people from our little church we attend sometimes over the last three years … has not resulted in any close relationships.  I have some aquaintances online, but there is nothing like those hugs, prayers, words of support or just deep caring from real people with whom you can share your heart and deepest cares.  Hubby is a lukewarm Christian and men just don't seem to handle female needs for companionship, attention and a listening ear.  I could go on, but all my circumstances are dead ends here and I'm stuck here.  Everyone is busy with their own lives and just don't have the time to spend cultivating a deep friendship anymore.  I find myself just waiting for the Lord to come take us home.  Isolation, depression, health issues … overwhelming me.  It's good to know I'm not the only one dealing with this and I sure hope and pray it's only for a 'season' or a 'reason' and not forever.  God bless you!

    • Sue Edwards

      Praying for you

      Dear Marci, Thanks for you honesty. How I wish we lived next door. There may be someone not too far away looking for a friend, and feeling the same way you are. I prayed this morning that if so, you would somehow find one another. I'm so glad that you look to Jesus for support and I hope you will try to find a Bible study again, and stay longer. It does take time to make those connections Is there a Bible Study Fellowship or a Community Bible study anywhere near you? It might be worth a drive if you could fine one. Jesus is a wondeful friend but we all need people with skin on too. I love technology but one down side is that, as you say, many people seem too busy to invest in relationships any more. But we all need them. So many people feel isolated like you do. You are so right that even married women need women friends. It a crazy notion that a man is all the companionship women need and its hard on men to put those expectations on them. I'm praying that you will find those women friends that can enrich your life and you will enrich theirs too.  Please, dear Lord, minister to Marci. Love to you.

  • Sue Edwards

    Thanks, Keijo

    Appreciate your kind words from Sweden. So glad to know we share the same love for Christ and that He is working everywhere. Bless you.

  • Jon boy

    Robin & David

    When & if I was depressed I didn't feel what commercials & public service announcements described as the disease. I wasn't bed bound I hadn't contemplated hurting myself but I lived a life that looked as if the person living in my home didn't care.

    Like Robin & David before him I spent more time partially clothed than outside or interacting with friends or family. It's only now that I'm seeking to "revere" rather than be afraid of God, love and desire my creator. Churches and bad religious experiences pushed me away & like you it was through the "godliness" of some amazing strangers with whom I first believed I had nothing in common.

    It was their charity of time, strength, hope & encouragement that allowed me to find a first wife & greatest love of my life who is joining me in our walk to revere love & desire God. Rather than to go from woman to woman, wife to wife, sleeping alone in separate bedrooms & having my body found by someone being paid to clean up my dangerous practices.

    To them I think we'll be forever grateful & for me I've finally found the reason for my existence.

  • Sue Edwards

    So grateful for those amazing strangers

    Dear Jon Boy, I'm so grateful that you didn't let those churches and bad religious experiences sour you on all people–because there really are many people who love God and sincerely care about others. The truth is that we are all extremely imperfect people and we need to help each other find God and healthy communities where we can thrive and, as you say, find the reason for our existence. Pass it on. Thanks so much for telling us a bit of your story.

  • Kenneth R Jenkins

    RE: Robin Williams

    You are correct, Robin Williams had it all; career, family, money but he died so poorly in depression. The empty void wasn't filled to satisfy him wasn't there but yet depression was there.

    A lot of successful comics like Robin seems to get burnt then becoming victims of their own success; something Robin's character, Mork from" Mork and Mindy" even understands as he explains to Orson.

    Nevertheless, someone needed to witness to Robin and letting him know that is always present and then maybe he wouldn't done what he did. But who knew the mind of one the funniest comics ever with his quick wit and many voices and personalities.

    All and all, my wife and all are big fans and he will be missed but never forgotten. Robin Williams had it all but wished he found Jesus in order to cope with the depression, drugs and alcohol and just left those burdens to Him.

    RIP Robin.

  • Blog author

    Maybe someone did witness?

    Thanks, Kenneth,

    Since writing this blog I've had various people tell me that Robin Williams expressed interest in knowing more about God in rehab. Only God knows if he trusted Christ as his personal Savior, but you are so right that someone needed to witness to him. Seems to me that our politically correct culture has caused many of us to shut down our testimonies. Robin's suicide is a wake up call for us all to tell others about the amazing love of God through Jesus Christ. Appreciate your comments.


  • Peach Blossom

    Me Too

    I have been a Christian for about 9.5 years and I know that being a Christian does not always make us immune to life's troubles–rain falls on everybody.  I don't know if Robin Williams was a Christian or not, but it doesn't matter–it's sad, all the same.  I, too, battle with depression, and as someone mentioned, it'll make you think things and do things you never thought you would.  There is medicine, but I pray for a cure.  I pray that God will help us all grit our teeth through the tough times, that we will see it for what it is and never give up hope.  Deut. 4:7 "For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call him?"  My hope in God is the only thing that keeps me afloat.  When I get into one of my "dark" patches, I have learned to start recalling and replaying the stuff He's saved me from and I can't help but forget about my misery–it's something you have to practice…the tumor the size of a grapefruit…the time my mother almost drove off a cliff…all the alcoholism in my family but I'm the only one who's never drank…I am living, breathing, walking, talking proof that God is real.  Perspective.  It's something to smile about.  smiley

  • Sue Edwards


    What a joy to hear how God has strengthened  and sustained you. Thanks for sharing all God has done and is doing for you. It's a fallen world and it seems to get darker and darker. I don't know how people continue without God.