Robin Williams, the brilliant comedian and dramatic actor, is the subject of a
new documentary, Come Inside My Mind. In addition to his tremendous
talent, Williams was also deeply troubled throughout his life. He struggled
with addiction and depression, and sadly died by his own hand in 2014. Not
only is Come Inside My Mind a great look at a brilliant talent, but it’s also
an important reminder to get help if you have mental health or addiction
issues.

Addicted to Approval

It’s no news flash that Robin Williams was addicted to cocaine and alcohol.
Williams was always open and candid about his struggles. But as Time
Magazine reports, “A lesser-known addiction of the late entertainer may
have been comedy itself.” What this means is Williams, like a lot of
comedians, was trying hard to make himself laugh, and craved the approval
of an audience.

“There’s a real incredible rush, I think, when you find something new and
spontaneous,” the comedian said. “I think your brain rewards that with a
little bit of endorphins – going, ‘If you think again, I’ll get you high one
more time.’”

Many say that laughter is the best medicine, and laughing can indeed have
tremendous healing power. This could be one reason why Williams made
people laugh so mercilessly. Making others laugh can make you feel better.
One director who worked with Williams said, “The urge to be funny and to
make people laugh was so innate for him. It was almost like breathing for
him. When he used to make people laugh that hard, he used to kind of get
high from it.”

Robin’s son Zachary said, “His pathos was to entertain and to please. And he
felt that when he wasn’t doing that, he was not succeeding as a person. That
was always hard to see, because in so many senses, he was the most
successful person I know. And yet he didn’t always feel that.”

Williams on Sobriety

Williams had a lengthy period of sobriety before he slipped up. He was
partying with John Belushi right before he died, and it was an event that
scared him straight. Williams cleaned up when his first son was born, and he
stayed clean for two decades.

He admitted falling off the wagon in 2003 when he was making a movie in
Alaska. Williams told The Guardian, “I was in a small town where it’s not
the edge of the world, but you can see it from there, and then I thought:
drinking. I just thought, hey, maybe drinking will help. Because I felt alone
and afraid. It was that thing of working so much, and going fuck, maybe that
will help. And it was the worst thing in the world.”
Williams said he turned to drinking because of “fearfulness and anxiety,”
and he was drinking for a week when he realized he’d made a big mistake.
Three years later he cleaned up again after a family intervention. Williams
also worked the program and went to AA meetings once a week or more.
“Have to,” he said. “It’s good to go.”