How Tragedy Helped Zak Williams Find His Purpose

The genius of Robin Williams has been immortalized in his many movies. The world will eternally know him because the instructor who impressed a era to shout carpe diem, the professor who confirmed brilliance and social standing will not be mutually unique, and the nanny who left little doubt {that a} guardian’s love is limitless. While the general public remembers the power and expertise that cemented the Oscar winner’s legacy, his eldest son, Zak Williams, remembers the unconditional love and assist of a father who wished his youngsters to search out happiness.

On a latest episode of the “Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast,” we spoke with Zak about his dad, his humanitarian work, and extra. In this text, we have a look at what it was like rising up with a well-known father, what he’s realized about happiness, and the way he turned unimaginable ache into unrelenting function.

Creating normalcy in chaos

As youngsters, we consider everybody’s life mirrors our personal, even when our experiences are removed from common.

Zak is a good instance. “I saw the [movie] sets, the different actors manifesting on-screen, and thought it was…all part of a normal experience,” he says.

Although his father was a film star, his dad and mom raised him away from the intense lights of Hollywood.

“Growing up in San Francisco, there was a [separation] between everything going on with my father’s career and our home life,” says Zak.

Whether dwelling there was about his guardian’s love for the Bay Area or grounding the household in normalcy, it was undoubtedly a calmer upbringing. Ultimately, their purpose is much less vital than the result, which is what Zak describes as a “normal childhood.”

Do what makes you content

There’s an expectation that the kids of celebrities both comply with of their guardian’s footsteps or achieve one other profitable occupation. While a few of this strain is exterior, particularly in at present’s social media tradition, a lot of those expectations come from dad and mom who consider their youngsters’s success displays upon them. Choosing a profession is one among life’s most consequential choices; when individuals choose a occupation primarily based on incomes potential or parental approval, they typically discover themselves trapped in unfulfilling careers.

Some individuals know what they wish to do early in life, whereas others take longer to search out their calling. While Zak took some time to pinpoint his ardour, he all the time knew his father wished him to be comfortable.

“There’s surface-level happiness, and then there’s deep, meaningful, fulfilling happiness,” says Zak. “[As] my definition of happiness evolved…I discovered that service was my path to happiness,” he provides.

Recovery is a journey

On August 11, 2014, Robin died by suicide after silently affected by Lewy Body Dementia, a mind illness that impacts an individual’s considering, reminiscence, and mobility. Traumatized by his father’s passing and coping with a number of private points, Zak’s personal struggles with alcohol got here to the forefront. He continued self-medicating for years earlier than realizing, “I can’t continue this and [expect] to have a happy outcome.”

Zak wasn’t alone on his restoration journey. Long-time buddy Olivia June helped him discover his method again and confirmed him the significance of self-care.

“She helped me understand that [I wasn’t] taking care of myself and that I needed to look at what I was doing [each] day and recalibrate around that,” says Zak. “We were just friends at that time…but soon discovered we were destined to start a life together,” he provides.

After getting married on World Mental Health Day 2020, the couple went into enterprise with the founding of PYM (Prepare Your Mind). The firm’s web site states, “PYM’s mission is to provide safe, natural, and effective mental hygiene products to promote self-care and end the stigma around mental health.”

Finding function

Richard Branson famously stated, “There is no greater thing you can do with your life and work than follow your passions in a way that serves the world.” After 5 years of sobriety, Zak now acknowledges that following his ardour for service was important to his therapeutic and restoration. An advocate for psychological well being points, Zak works to unfold consciousness about suicide prevention. He believes that our nation should change its method to suicide, saying, “We need to remove the blame; people aren’t going to reach out for help, especially to family and friends, when there’s a stigma associated with it.”

In August, Zak started educating tens of millions of listeners about suicide prevention as a particular correspondent on the CALL FOR HELP podcast. The four-part sequence, which he co-produced with Lemonada Media, seems on the newly launched 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and the challenges going through America’s psychological well being system.

“The purpose [of 988] is to help navigate people to a more contextual model of care,” says Zak. Many individuals keep away from psychological well being providers out of concern that it’ll elicit a regulation enforcement response. Zak explains that calling 988 connects these experiencing emotional crises with educated psychological well being professionals, not the police.

Although his path has been troublesome, every hardship Zak skilled alongside the way in which has ready him to be an efficient advocate and make a long-lasting distinction. While Robert Brault didn’t write the next passage with Zak in thoughts, the creator’s phrases appear prophetic of his expertise: “Sometimes in tragedy, we find life’s purpose. The eye sheds a tear to find its focus.”

If you or somebody you’re keen on is contemplating suicide or in emotional misery, please dial 988. This nationwide service is free, confidential, and accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days every week. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a nationwide community of native disaster facilities that present emotional assist and are dedicated to enhancing providers by empowering people, advancing skilled finest practices, and constructing consciousness.

The Talking Series is a weekly section that delves deeper into matters mentioned by company of the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast.

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