Ben Stein's Diary

Robin Williams, R.I.P.

He was a deeply thoughtful and sad man.

By 8.12.14

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I never worked with Robin Williams. Once in a great while I would see him at a Hollywood watering hole, but that was a long time ago. And he always made me extremely uneasy when I saw him on the screen, large or small. He had a frantic, wildly manic quality to him, like a toy soldier that had been overwound and would walk into walls and fall down and just keep walking. Hyper beyond sanity.

He was — from what I heard — a deeply thoughtful and sad man. His thoughts made him sadder, so he turned to alcohol and drugs. His appetite for both was the stuff of legend. Like almost all alcoholics and drug addicts and many, many, many comedians, he had powerful feelings of self-hatred and self-loathing and suicide. I see it in my colleagues here. I have seen it work its evil way into killing three of my best friends.

I no longer even remotely believe in psychoactive anti-depressant meds for suicidal thoughts. I’ve taken them long ago and they made me suicidal beyond any other times in my life. I strongly suspect that overuse of psychoactive anti-depressants and the contrary effects they often seem to have is a factor in military suicides. Any drug strong enough to change your basic mood is going to be dangerous.

I just feel sick about Robin Williams, though and I feel sick about all of the good men and women led to self-destructive thoughts by their inner demons, fueled into merciless rage by alcohol and drugs.

In my own life, I have found that prayer, intense rest, fresh air, and above all, 12-step programs for helping persons who want to get off the suicide express before it reaches its final destination in hell, work miracles. I have never known a person injured by prayer. I have never known a person driven to suicide by going to 90 meetings in 90 days and maybe 180 meetings in 90 days.

Having good friends treading the path of recovery is also a gift from God. Talking to them, eating with them, praying with them saves lives.

Turning every problem over to God saves lives.

Telling yourself over and over that feelings come and feelings go and feelings are not facts helps me a lot.

I carry with me a gift from a friend who said it had saved his life many a time. It is a simple piece of paper that reads, “NOT TODAY.” It has brought me peace and salvation many a time. Anyone can get through just one more day and by tomorrow you might feel completely different.

Know this: Just for me, the 12-step programs are not really about keeping the drink or the drug out of my mouth. They are about keeping the gun out of my mouth. They work and they work wonders.

How I wish Mr. Williams had come to our little meetings every day. Mr. Keating, you didn’t have to go so soon.

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.