Robin Williams' Son Zak Says His Father’s Death 'Traumatized' Him
By Antoinette Bueno
Zak Williams is talking candidly about how the death of his father, the legendary Robin Williams, affected him.
The Patch Adams actor died in 2014 by suicide. He was 63 years old. In a recent online Q & A with the mental health chat community 18percent, 36-year-old Zak said he struggled with mental health issues after the death of his dad, and shared how doing service work has been helpful to him.
"Well, I was very traumatized after my dad's death and found that teaching financial literacy in prison helped me heal and cope with the trauma," he said. "After that I found that being vulnerable and open about my struggles seemed to actually help others. So, I just kind of kept on doing it. I love it as I find it healing personally."
Zak is CEO and co-founder of the mental health support company PYM HealthZak, and is a board member of mental health awareness non-profit Bring Change 2 Mind and the Yerba Buena Center of the Arts. He said he became an advocate for others struggling after the loss of a loved ones due to his own experience, and shared how he now honors his late father.
"Well, I decided to become an advocate because I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression personally," he said. "Found myself self-medicating and generally unhappy so when it came to speaking about my and my family struggles personally it just sort of clicked. In terms of honoring him personally, I have an 11-week-old son so at this point it mainly involves being a present father."
He later shared some advice on healthier ways to cope with loss.
"I found that the first fix for me was to learn how to not self-medicate," he said. "I was masking the pain with alcohol often and that just made things worse. Eating well and getting outdoors around nature is also really helpful for me. If self-medication isn't an issue then finding opportunities to connect with people is helpful. Also, exercise!"
"What I neglected to do after my dad’s passing was take care of myself," he added. "You can't be there for others if you are not paying attention to your needs and struggles. Take the time to do what you need to do to get through the day first. Then you'll have a fuller cup to be there for others. Also, support groups were really helpful for me."
Zak also shared the best lessons he's learned from his dad.
"That being unconditionally loving and kind and considerate is one of the secrets to leaving a full life," he shared. "That, and finding connection and common ground. Oh, also, finding gratitude in the day-to-day life is a simple, wonderful way to feel good."
ET spoke to the late comedian's 30-year-old daughter, Zelda, last September at the Tribeca TV Festival, where she shared the best advice her dad has given her. Watch the video below for more: