Williams took his own life on Aug. 11, 2014 at the age of 63.
Zak Williams founded the mental health support company PYM Health, and last week, he spoke to 18percent.org, a website dedicated to mental health support, and revealed his own experience with crippling depression and how he was "traumatized" by his father's death.
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The 21st of July has meant many things to me over the years. It’s the birthday of one of my favorite souls still on this earth, @junotemple. It’s the day Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon (as a space nerd, that’s pretty damn important). And it was the day my Dad was born, and the last day I got to see him. That last one had begun to usurp the joy of the first two in recent years... that is, until two days ago, when it became something new. On the 21st of July, 2019, it became the day I officially gained a new sister! To @mariaaafloresssswilliams and Cody, you are a light in all of our lives. I’m so grateful to have paid witness to your love over the years, to have watched you grow and care for each other in ways we should all be so lucky to experience. You were already part of the family in my eyes, but now there’s an official slip of paper somewhere that agrees! Zak, Mom and I love you both dearly, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say CONGRATULATIONS TO THE BRIDE AND GROOM!!! 🎊🥂🍾🍰💫🕊 ♥️ Photos by @cassievalentephoto
While he said he had to face his own struggles first, Zak Williams said it was through connecting with and helping others that he was able to "heal and cope with the trauma" of his own painful loss.
"What I neglected to do after my dad’s passing was take care of myself. 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," he added.
"I found great help for me personally at my lowest times in volunteering and doing service work," he added, saying that that work had included teaching financial literacy in prison. "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."
His sister, Zelda Williams has frequently spoken out about her own struggles and worked with organizations to help raise awareness around mental health.
In the vain of continuing to be vulnerable, Williams added in the interview that he personally has dealt with "anxiety and depression."
"[I] 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," he added. "In terms of honoring [my father] personally I have an eleven week old son so at this point it mainly involves being a present father."
Williams and his family welcomed McLaurin Clement Williams in May. McLaurin was Robin Williams' middle name.
In the new interview with 18percent.org, Williams said that when he stopped self-medicating for his depression, he was able to manage his mental health.
"I was masking the pain with alcohol often and that just made things worse," he said, echoing is father's own frank comments about his own struggles with the disease. "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."