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.” 
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
Maybe you can relate to this: as a parent, there exists a thin line between what happens to any child and what happens to my child. A tragic event occurs involving my friend’s child, a child in my community, or even a child in the news and I feel it could have been my child. I feel the pain as if it were my child. Teen suicide is one of a parent’s greatest fears. And as an adult who experienced suicidal ideation, it’s unfathomable to me.
When I was in my first year of recovery after hospitalization for severe depression, I used writing as a way to process my pain. I wrote in journal after journal and I began to think of the future and what it had in mind for me. And when I heard about the following story, I thought—maybe my writing could help others?
Today, I enjoy relaxing in my reclining leather loveseat next to my ten-month-old black lab puppy, Lulu. She rests her warm head on my leg. I am excited about the impending birth of my first grandchild who is expected later this month. It is now spring and my moods have lifted. On a day like this, with the sun shining and a slight breeze coming in, you would never guess that I am in recovery. On a day like this, it seems impossible that a bit more than 2629 days ago, this day wasn’t going to happen. I thought January 8, 2010, was to be my last day.
My “last” day
My Dance with Death…
If you would see me today, you would never imagine me as a person who had tried to take her own life. That’s the point. According to the National Mental Health Association, a 2000 study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that approximately 25 to 50 percent of patients with bipolar attempt suicide at least once (1).
I will always regret that my family was not educated about my mental illness sooner. Now that I am in recovery, I can rationally understand how life gets busy. But just like my psychologist explained, I was sitting in that pit with my entire psychological house broken into a thousand pieces during that time. I was confused, having difficulty focusing; I felt overwhelmed, vulnerable and afraid. As I watched them seemingly walk blithely away saying, “I’ll be praying for you! Call me if you need anything!” I reached up my arm to stop them but my wrist was missing pieces. I cried for help, but hadn’t put my mouth together yet. I remember endless days of feeling so lonely that it ached in my bones – my foundation crumbling from beneath me. Luckily, a Good Samaritan came along. (more…)