I've been bi-polar most of my life. I was diagnosed with depression when I was eight years old. The Principal of my elementary school told my mother that I seemed sad in class. I was often bored, and I didn't play with the other kids, so I was sent to a Child Psychiatrist. I thought she was silly and tried to analyze her.
Bi-polar disorder is also call Manic-Depressive. The depression seems to get most of the attention because sufferer seems so, well, depressed. But don't dismiss the manic side. Often people are attracted to manic personalities because they are so energetic and upbeat.
Robin Williams' manic side is what he based his wild, creative, energetic comedy on. Everyone thought he was just being funny, but if you watch him in one of his comedy routines or a movie or TV show, he was manic. And when you are that high during a manic phase, the lows of depression must be really terrible. It's like going from the top of the Empire State Building to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
I have my manic side too, but my swings were never as extreme nor as entertaining as Robin Williams. My outburst at the City Workshop on the Cemetery is an example of my manic side. I got all excited and babbled incoherently while thinking I was saying something very intelligent. It's much easier for me to tell when I'm depressed than when I'm manic.
When I got depressed, and most of my bipolar depression is fortunately behind me, I felt like I was a failure and a phony. I wanted to sleep all the time and get lost in lucid dreams. Lucid dreams are where you can control what is happening in your dreams. So I could change, edit and reshoot scenes in my dreams. I could sleep ten or 12 hours at a time when I was depressed. I did not want to leave the house.
When I was working at a regular job and had to be at in an office from 8 am to 5 pm, it would be difficult to control my mood swings. I took medication for it. First it was Librium, then Lithium, and some other prescription drugs I can't recall. Now I'm on Lexapro, which works to raise the serotonin level in the brain. That's what certain foods do, especially dairy like cheese and ice cream.
Food worked better for me than drugs or alcohol. I drink wine or hard cider occasionally, but I was never attracted to alcohol and I never used any kind of non-prescription drug, not even marijuana. I would fixate on food and cooking and feeding my demons. I probably would have committed suicide years ago if I did not have the comfort of comfort food.
But because being obese, or even merely fat, is so societally unacceptable, the weight of disapproval from my family members, or strangers who make nasty comments, and even from myself, only added to my depression.
So I am labeled (everything is labeled these days) "Morbidly obese." Heck I'm going to be 72 in October and do not have any life-threatening conditions from my obesity. My blood pressure isn't high. My sugar levels are pre-diabetic and have been for over 30 years. I used to be concerned about that, but since they are holding steady just below diabetic, I'm not worried about it anymore.
I feel sad for Robin Williams and his family and his fans. If he was on medication, it is too bad that it didn't work well enough to keep him from doing what he did. I will keep taking Escitalopram (generic for Lexapro), and I will keep eating the kind of food that helps keep me level.