Pilates: Mental Illness, Robin Williams and Ignorance

Robin Williams Chris Hunt Pilates


If you read my blog regularly, you will know that I feel very passionate about mental illness and its link with physical fitness. If this topic interests you, then you can read Let’s talk about depression: Is it Real?, Depression: Positive Thinking, and Exercise is only one part of Total Fitness.

As I said in a previous blog, “If you know someone who is suffering from depression, don’t judge or offer them advice. They don’t need that and it doesn’t help. They need your understanding and support. Question is, can you give them only that?”

My father died whilst suffering from Alzheimer’s. “Dementia: I lost my father, don’t lose yours” was the hardest post I have ever written. So it’s with interest that I have been watching the media following the tragic death of Robin Williams.

The increasing number of public figures who are having to apologise for comments they made in the past few days clearly shows the absolute and total ignorance some people have when it comes to depression. There is no excuse, no excuse to make such stupid comments, especially when you are in a position where some misguided people may actually listen to you and take your words for the truth.

Rock star Gene Simmons has apologised about his “spur of the moment” remarks about people who suffer from depression. The Kiss singer and bassist sparked outrage after saying he is “the guy who says ‘Jump'” to those who are suicidal. He is quoted as also saying that his advice was that if you are depressed you should “kill yourself”.

Robin Williams’ daughter Zelda has quit Twitter following the abuse she got from followers. People were telling her that her Dad was selfish and a coward to kill himself. Fox News TV anchor Shepard Smith sparked criticism after also suggesting the actor was a “coward” to kill himself. Meanwhile TalkSport in the UK has apologised after its radio presenter Alan Brazil said he had “no sympathy” for suicide.

All of these people have now apologised of course, no doubt worried about their ratings and future job prospects, but I have little doubt that their first words were the true way they feel about depression. And that worries and scares me in equal measures.

Make no mistake, anyone who thinks that Robin Williams is a coward or that he is selfish, or that suicidal people should “jump”, have a serious problem. These people should go educate themselves about depression and think before they make totally ignorant statements. I am serious. If there is even 10% of your mind that when reading this is thinking “they should pull themselves together” then please read my blog articles above and then go educate yourself because you are misinformed.

In my blog today I want to ask you to share your opinions and experience with clients who suffer from depression. Many distinguished Pilates teachers say that Pilates can help people suffering from depression. Pilates without doubt helps to relax the mind and energise the body, gives body awareness, can improve self-image and has meditative qualities if taught in the correct way. I found meditation after my own personal experience with depression, and this is why I travelled to Bangkok to study meditation in a Buddhist monastery. This is also why in my Pilates system Pilates EVO, I integrated mindfulness meditation. When I am travelling the world to train new Pilates EVO teachers, this is one of my favourite parts of the education because most teachers have little or no experience of meditation, and at first some find the whole concept very difficult to grasp.

Meditation is becoming more and more acceptable and proven in Western medicine as a treatment for depression. There are many books on the market, but one of my favourites is The Mindful Way Through Depression. Click on the picture below to read more.

Thank you Robin Williams for all the joy you bought into this world. You will be missed. I hope that your torment will continue to bring the debate about depression to a wider audience, and I hope that more and more people will gain a greater understanding.

In the U.S.: If you are contemplating attempting suicide, there are people who can help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

In the U.K.: For confidential support call the Samaritans  on 08457 90 90 90 or visit a local Samaritans branch

Chris is an international Pilates and functional training presenter and educator based in London and Barcelona, Spain. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength.  He also created Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. He organises fitness holidays and sports holidays in Barcelona, as well as retreats. For more information about training with Chris in Barcelona, please click on Barcelona Bienestar. To learn more about Chris, please read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway? You can also subscribe by completing the form on the this BLOG to receive articles and special offers straight to your inbox.

Chris pays all profits made from this BLOG to his charity partners. More details can be found by clicking on www.chrishuntwellness.com and selecting the “charity partners” tab.






9 thoughts on “Pilates: Mental Illness, Robin Williams and Ignorance”

  1. Thank you for this…………it’s easy to say “shake it off”, or to feel resentful towards poeple who are experiencing this darkness of spirit, and can’t seem to find their way out. But please also remember those of us who do try in our own small way to help. We may not always say or do exactly the right thing, but we do try. And also, please remember those of us who do care, and do try. We may sometimes need a bit of TLC ourselves.

    1. Hello Patricia and thank you for your comments. I didn’t mean to sound too harsh in my post because I agree with you that when most people give advice it is given with the best of intentions. But even well-intentioned advice sometimes is not good advice and doesn’t help. But if our hearts are in the right place then good things will come to us. 🙂

  2. As someone who suffered severe depression as a child, I thank you and anyone else who will speak up for the clinically depressed and/or those who struggle with addiction. I have been mostly uplifted by all I have read about the death of Robin Williams, but when I read a post on FB that suggested that Robin Williams (and Jonathan Winters) derived his gifts through collution with the Devil, I had to speak up.
    One of the great things about a thoughtful pilates practice (or yoga or tai chi etc) is that it gives us an hour to reconnect with ourselves in a non-cerebral way…we are working in a physical, focused, calm way to better our movement. Juggling is hard in Pilates…you cannot get swept away by your nasty inner voice when you are busy collaborating with your body on the breath and the stability and the movement. Isn’t that why we all feel better after class than we did before?

  3. Thank you Chris for your thoughtful and compassionate response to this tragedy and the furur it invoked. As a life long, albeit periodic sufferer of clinical depression I appreciate both your comments and suggestion to explore meditation. Although meditation may not be a “cure” for depression, understanding the phemoral, changeable nature of mind can certainly give us pause before doing anything rash and also help humble our ego enough to seek the kind of help that is appropriate for our self in the moment. Thank you.

    1. And thank you Kerry 🙂 There are a growing number of studies that are showing meditation is more effective than anti-depressants so time will tell us more I am sure In the meantime it is wonderful to know there are people in the world like you..

  4. Really wonderful post Chris, thank you for sharing…

    It’s so sad how much misunderstanding there is surrounding mental health, especially sad considering how it affects 1 in 3 of us at some point in our lives.
    For those lucky enough to have not had to battle mental health issues it can be very difficult to have the patience and understanding towards those suffering, especially if it’s a loved one.. In my experience people can feel shut out and exasperated that there is no ‘quick fix’.
    I really hope more awareness can help families/friends etc learn that the best way you can help someone suffering is to just be there, to love unconditionally, without judgement and give time.. Love is a great healer.

    I hope more people read and share posts like yours, it’s a subject we need to be able to talk about more.

    Thank you for your honesty and kindness.
    Love and peace xXx

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