Robin Williams' Son Zak on His Depression and Anxiety After His Dad's Death: 'I Was Traumatized'
The mental health advocate is sharing his story in hopes of helping others
"I loved playing with him in our garden or going on walks and popping into the local Japanese toy shop to watch him get so excited over different things," says the eldest son of the late actor who died by suicide in 2014.
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But Zak, 37, admits that in the years that followed Robin's death, he fell into a deep depression and began to self-medicate with alcohol.
"I was deeply unhappy and feeling extremely isolated and broken,” he says. "I was traumatized."
He realized his drinking was getting out of hand and that he needed help.
"Ultimately, I found that if I continued living that way, it wasn't a life that was worth living. Something had to give," he says.
Eve H. Byrd, Director of the Carter Center Mental Health Program, says it is common for someone who is grieving to experience the symptoms of a major depressive episode but adds that "if these symptoms do not lessen over time and cause the person to become unable to care for themselves or have suicidal thoughts – then the person should seek the help of a mental health professional."
Zak soon attended recovery group meetings and, with the help of therapy, healthy eating, exercise and meditation, began to heal and to speak out in hopes of helping others.
Watch the full episode of People Features: Zak Williams streaming now on PeopleTV.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.
He began working with organizations such as Glenn Close's nonprofit, Bring Change to Mind, and Inseparable, a national policy and advocacy group. In 2020, he launched his own company, PYM (Prepare Your Mind), which promotes mental health support. Its first product, Mood Chews, available Oct. 22, is a dietary supplement intended to help relieve stress and anxiety.
Today, Zak is proud of how far he has come. On Oct. 10, he wed wife Olivia, 34, in an intimate, COVID-safe ceremony at The Paramour Estate in L.A. surrounded by close family and friends. He's also the proud dad to 17-month-old son Mickey, whose full name is McLaurin, Robin's middle name.
"I'm thrilled to have a family and live the life that I always wanted to live," he says. "I've learned I'm not broken. Despite experiencing traumatic events, I can recover. And I am now on a path of healing and being the person I always wanted to be."
If you or someone you know needs mental health resources or help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
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