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Please begin with an informative title:

When I heard that Robin Williams had died of an apparent suicide, my heart hurt. It's the only way I can describe the tightness in my chest. Suicide has haunted my life like a spectre, a ghost that has warped the lives of so many of my friends and family. In fact, just last week a friend of a friend committed suicide, leaving loved ones in turmoil. Once again we are faced with the guilt and anger, and especially the pain, of losing someone. Robin Williams was another American struggling with mental illness. We have such a poor history of letting the mentally ill suffer in silence and shame.

Follow me below the orange cloud for a tip toe through the black hole...

Intro

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Mental illness seems like such a clinical word for what happens inside my head. I should start with explaining that I have a number of affected disorders and anxiety disorders including bipolar, depression, generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. The only way to describe it is it's like there's a monster in my head that can't stop repeating the same humiliating or emotionally devastating events of my life. Oh yes, it keeps an excellent library full of my greatest hits on constant rotation. A healthier mind than mine is able to distance itself from the awkward and embarassing moments and let them fade into obscurity. I know that the constant littany of my worst memories will inevitably lead to anxiety about everything from how I smile at a stranger to if my teeth are going to fall out from grinding them too much. I try to keep the monster on a leash through diet, excercise, meditation, medication, distraction, bingeing and smoking (which I have stopped doing, again). Sometimes the monster gets loose. It's not unlike a Godzilla movie with a giant green lizard stomping out whole cities in a single bound, roaring and breathing fire.

The monster, it should be noted, does not play well with others. I have lost friends, alienated my family and lost a job because of emotional outbursts and crippling depression. Lets face it, some days I'm just not fit for human consumption. I'll be keyed up from a manic swing, edgy and fiesty, when the anxiety hits and I spin out of a control in an emotional hurricane that leaves me crashed and barely able to get out of bed. And I tell you, while people love to bitch to each other about how stressed and crazy they feel, they are far less comfortable with someone suffering from mental illness, especially depression. No one wants to get sucked into the gravity well of a deep blue funk, so they break free, and in the process break your heart. In time you learn to go it alone, to manage the anxiety with quiet freakouts in the bathroom, to mask the depression with caffeine and sugar, to calm the firestorm in your brain with drugs or alcohol.

And there is always, always that dark place, the quiet voice that says there is only one true escape from the pain, the loneliness, the fear and anger. Everyone has a reason not to go there. I could never do that to my mom, who lived through her father's suicide, or my husband who lost two close cousins to suicide. And as silly as it seems, I couldn't do that to my dogs.

So be kind with and to each other. We could all use a little kindness.

If you are interested in advocacy for mental illness check out:
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
National Alliance on Mental Illness

And if you are considering suicide, or concerned that someone you know might be, contact your local suicide prevention hotline or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255).

Update: Here just a couple of the reasons why I'm still here:

http://images.dailykos.com/...

http://images.dailykos.com/...

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