My moods are a roller coaster. I see life through the lens of constant up and down. Not many people know this about me, because I have a natural life force and an outgoing personality. Mental illness is so often a hidden thing. Its sufferers are often adept at hiding its symptoms. The image you have of mental illness often comes from the movies. The movies have a habit of presenting mental illness in its extreme form. But not all of us are like that.
A hilarious genius, Robin Williams would verbally shower us with his brilliance as we laughed until our bellies ached. We marveled at his boundless energy and his ability to be extemporaneously funny. Robin Williams’ mind improvised stand-up comedy routines which he delivered flawlessly. He was a comedic tour de force. The USC film school has established a Robin Williams Comedy Chair. “Robin was a comedy genius with a boundless talent,” Lucas said. “He was singular in every way, yet had great respect for the genre and for the dedication it took to succeed. His talent was only matched by his work ethic. That’s why he made it to the pinnacle of comedy success, and why his legacy will be to motivate and inspire young storytellers.” 
One more thing to worry about
As a mother of three and now grandmother of one, I worry what has passed on genetically to my offspring. We don’t have a family history of bipolar disease and as far as I know, no particular gene is identified for the condition in any case. However, I did grow up knowing that my maternal grandmother was clinically depressed. Losing a child to Leukemia took its toll on her. I was quite young and obviously have no memories of Grandma from that time. I do know she additionally suffered the loss of her father during her teen years along with living through wars the Great Depression. I have often wondered whether I received hereditary mental health predispositions. How much of her bout(s) with depression were passed on to her children, grandchildren, great and now great, great grandchildren is unknown. I am unsettled by this lack of information. What does all this mean for my family? What does your family history of mental illness look like?
I grew up in poverty, with a mother with untreated and undiagnosed bipolar illness, 5 siblings, my grandparents, and a tenant who lived in the attic. The tenant paid rent which helped our food bill. There were 11 of us, no shower, no heat upstairs, and we had to draw a straw to line up for the bathroom. At age 19, I took legal action and forced my mother to enter a mental hospital against her free will. She never forgave me for violating her rights. On her deathbed, I could sense her lack of trust with me. My action of institutionalizing my mother in her manic, violent, psychotic state created serious disruption in our relationship until her dying day. I can’t help but wonder if mental illness is contagious.
As a sibling
Mind, body, and spirit all require care. If one is being neglected, it affects the other two. Sometimes it can be a neglect or damage that is out of your control. This is the story of how my damaged mind, body, and spirit became whole again.
It begins well: a happy home, a supportive family, an excellent student. I never showed signs of having a mental illness. There was the emotional stage going through puberty, but these were the things that I believe are typical of a teenage girl or boy. I got into a great college and was excelling there.
Dreaming of Paris all my life, I decided to study abroad in France. That is when the unthinkable happened. I was sexually assaulted, and it was done by two young men whom I knew (or thought I knew) fairly well. It took a long time to recognize the gravity of what had happened to me. I came home about a month after my program was complete, but told almost no one what had happened.