Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sane Enough to Know I'm Not: Conclusion

There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you're high it's tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria pervade one's marrow. But, somewhere this changes. The fast ideas are too fast, and there are far too many, overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friend's faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against.... you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and emerged totally in the blackest caves of the mind. You never knew those caves were there. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.
 Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind

Not much of what follows is based on scientific evidence. It consists mostly of my own thoughts and opinions, arrived at through personal experience and observation over the years. It just so happens that several people agree with me, including a few mental health professionals, parents of bipolar children, and probably most importantly, bipolars themselves.

Doctors:

People generally devote more time and consideration to shopping for a car than they do for a doctor. If it’s been on the road for a few years, they want to know its history, how it responds in a crisis situation, how many times it’s been in the shop, and why its previous owner decided to chuck it. Potential owners kick the tires, blow the horn, take it for a test drive and check out other makes and models at other lots.

I don’t advise kicking a doctor or tweaking his nose, but I do advise checking him out and shopping around for different models. Just as different cars meet different needs, so do doctors. After visiting with a psychiatrist for a couple of years and feeling no progress has been made, there is nothing wrong with trading him in for a new model.

A diabetic wouldn’t see an OB-GYN for treating his high blood sugar. A cancer patient wouldn’t seek the services of a specialist in any field but oncology. A heart patient would be less than brilliant letting a podiatrist install a cardiac stint.

So, why do mental health patients seek the services of anyone other than a skilled and experienced specialist? I define a specialist as a psychiatrist who is trained and skilled in the treatment of the endless forms of mood disorders, one who can distinguish between bipolar and cyclothymia, chronic depression and dysthymia, and between schizophrenia and all the rest.

If possible, this psychiatrist should also have a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. After all, he is the person monitoring and prescribing medications, so I think it is wise to seek someone who has this additional knowledge and training.

I, and a growing number of professional and lay people, feel very strongly that medical doctors should not be allowed to diagnose, treat or prescribe medications for mood disorders, or any other mental illnesses. They have very little training in this field, resulting in undiagnosed or misdiagnosed cases of bipolar. Most primary care physicians recognize their limitations and refer patients to qualified mental health professionals, but unfortunately there are those few who do like to play God and the consequences can be truly disastrous.

The same strenuous search should be made for a therapist who is skilled in the dynamics of manic depression. Visit with several before making a choice. It is especially important that a child feel comfortable with and can relate to their psychologist or social worker. Whether or not mommy likes the mental health professional is irrelevant.

I teamed with psychiatrists for many years to treat bipolar illness. Bipolar patients were often the most rewarding for their intelligence, their eloquence, their creativity, and their fascinating life stories. They were also often the most frustrating, for their refusal to accept the boring mid-range of experience that successful pharmacological treatment had to offer . . . . And they were often the most heart-rending, for the sorrows their personal losses and disappointments handed them at the extreme points on either pole. Comment by Nance.

Medications:

“Experts Say Too Many Children Are Over Medicated.” “Experts Say Medication X Is Causing More Suicides.” I can almost mark my calendar with such old news headlines which appear with great regularity every two years or so.

Take a close look at these “experts.” See any psychiatrists? See the name of Kay Redfield Jamison, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins who herself is bipolar?

Take a close look at the writer’s credentials. Most don’t even know that bipolar and manic depression is one and the same. It’s like sending a reporter to a horse show who has never seen a horse in their entire lives and who doesn’t know the difference between a trot and a canter.

Of course these claims are backed up with all kinds of statistics. “X percentage of people killed themselves while on the drug Pablum in the U.S. in 2009.” What they don’t say, because they don’t know or don’t do their research, is how many lives are saved by being on Pablum. What they fail to point out is that most, not all, of these patients lead more productive lives, perform better in school, and have much healthier personal relationships.

To deny a child needed medications is condemning the poor kid to a life of hell: to more hours in the principal’s office than in the classroom, to low academic achievement, to poor socialization skills, and very often, to a life of crime beginning at a very early age.

The days of medicating patients with bipolar or other mental illnesses to the point that they become zombies are pretty much over. Most psychiatrists prefer to start with low dosage amounts and then gradually increase it, if necessary.

Tragically, there are those cases where a patient simply doesn’t respond to treatment of any kind. Hopefully, in time, and as scientists learn more about this illness, this will be a thing of the past.

People ask why so many more people are being diagnosed with bipolar these days. My answer is simple: doctors and scientists are learning more about it as each day passes and there are better and better diagnostic tools at their disposal. Polio was first identified in 1789 but it wasn’t until the late 1950s and early 1960s that the Salk and Sabin vaccines proved effective in fighting this deadly disease.

But the brain is still the most mysterious organ of all.

My (bipolar) friend often wrote about the unspeakable cruelties of history and taught these subjects at a local University … genocide, the Holocaust, and torture. Survivors of torture, she used to say, remain tortured. Sometimes she used these as a metaphor to describe how she felt inside. Revolt, she used to say, is how one responds to unspeakable cruelties. At some point, she used to say, one must resign oneself to life’s cruelties because if you dwell on your mortal wounds, it will drive you mad. Revolt and resignation … that is how described her struggle. Comment by Octo.

While creating havoc in a person’s life, and making it pretty miserable for their loved ones, bipolar doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. I often wonder what my own life would have been like had I been diagnosed earlier. Would I have dried out sooner? Would I have had a happier or more content life, used better judgment, found success in the creative or performing arts, hurt and disappointed fewer people? Would I have been a better wife to my first husband, who is still my greatest friend?

Would I have been able to keep my head during those frequent turbulent moments when my second husband used me for a whipping post? Would I have been able to defuse his anger had I remained calm? Not if I had been an angel on steroids.

Would I have been a better mother? God, I hope so.

Sadly, I can’t turn the clock back nor can I keep beating myself over the head for what did or didn’t happen. But due to the exceptional mental health teams on both sides of the Mississippi River, and to appropriate medications, I have been able to rebuild my life, brick by brick by brick.

It goes on and on, and finally there are only other's recollections of your behavior.... your bizarre, frantic, aimless behaviors..... for mania has at least some grace in partially obliterating memories. What then after the medications, psychiatrist, despair, depression, and overdose? All those incredible feelings to sort through. Who is being too polite to say what? Who knows what? What did I do? Why? And most hauntingly, when will it happen again? Then, too, are the bitter reminders..... medicine to take, resent, forget, take, resent, and forget, but always to take. Credit cards revoked, bounced checks to cover, explanations due at work, apologies to make, intermittent memories (what did I do?), friendships gone ordained, a ruined marriage. And always, when will it happen again? Which of my feelings are real? Which of the me's is me? The wild impulsive chaotic, energetic, and crazy one? Or the shy, withdrawn, disparate, suicidal, doomed, and tired one? Probably a bit of both, hopefully much that is neither. Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind



Be a name dropper - famous people who were or are bipolar:
http://www.pendulum.org/information/information_famous.html

Professional Organizations:
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Institute of Mental Health

Books for the layman:
Although a clinical psychologist and a Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, Kay Redfield Jamison sits at the top of the stack. She is bipolar and has done more to educate the public and professionals about bipolar than a twenty volume encyclopedia could do. And her writing is much more enjoyable - moving, clear, lofty at times, profound at others. I had the privilege of hearing her speak at a Colorado Mental Health Association luncheon in Denver one time. She is a remarkable woman and I am a devoted fan.

Her An Unquiet Mind can be read in one evening. It has done more to give hope to bipolars like me than any other single book. It is about her own struggles with this illness and is beautifully written.

She also wrote Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and The Artistic Temperament. This was my first introduction to Jamison (before I was diagnosed), is quite a bit longer and absolutely fascinating. I could not get my nose out of it. She explores how bipolar disorder can run in artistic or high-achieving families.

Others she has written include Exuberance: The Passion for Life; Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide; Nothing Was the Same. I honestly cannot recommend any of these books enough.

HERE is a list of books for significant others.

Internet Sources:
One could spend a month of Sundays visiting bipolar pages and still not get to all of them. And many of them are filled with mythologies of their own, so beware.

Pendulum has been around since the days of L-servs. I used to participate and think it's pretty reliable. There are all kinds of sources there for those who are bipolar and for friends and family.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is another but I am not as familiar with it.

37 comments:

  1. Very well done, as always. I think you've done a great service for your readers, here and now. But I'm sure these posts will be an ongoing source of insight and information for people in need of those, to better understand themselves, a loved one or friend.

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  2. I cannot count the number of people who told me to leave my wife. Her family, my family....and I remember one young man who worked for me came over one night with his fiancee and she blurted out that she did not understand why I put up with "the shit."

    I don't understand why people believe it is always about them? I mean marriage is about "for better or worse" is it not? Hell, we never got married in a church and I am not going to even pretend that I am a christian...but when you give your word, you give your word.

    I have read a few of the books listed on your links....they helped. I know what the world is like living with someone who is bipolar/depressed but while it is not easy, okay...its hell at times.

    I know that I can leave the house, I can get in my car and escape.

    I have no idea what it feels like, what the world looks like, or what kind of hell being bipolar/depressed is like....and its a hell that one cannot escape from.

    I will also admit that I have "experimented" with some of the meds....whew...scary stuff.

    I do want to thank you Leslie for sharing and for being open. I think that this series has been what blogging should be all about...individuals being honest and sharing!

    You have helped alot of people and taken a stigma off of depression/bipolar.

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  3. I believe we all now have a better understanding of the effects of mental illness, and that’s a good thing. Thank you for your talent, your time and your hard work, but most of all for your insight.

    Many who have commented on your series also added much to the effort with their openness and sharing.

    Good job, Leslie!

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  4. SW: Thank you for your kind words. My goal has been to demystify mental illness, specifically bipolar, and if one or two folks have gained some new understanding from this series, then I've done what I set out to do.

    TAO: Oh my. I spent far too many years escaping - gathering up the kids and going to a hotel or friend's to wait out the storm. Finally - after years of therapy - I decided that this wasn't how life was meant to be and that it wasn't good for me or my children. Being brought up the way I was I had and have a strong belief in the sanctity of vows - plus I truly loved this man - but there comes a point where one has to think of one's own health and well-being. Vows are only good as long as both parties are keeping up their end of the bargain.

    Divorce is sort of like abortion. It's one hell of a tough decision. Despite his own very heavy drinking and his undiagnosed bipolar, I might have hung in there but living a life where it was necessary to escape on a semi-regular basis became unbearable. As I've said, it took a lot of years of therapy to come to the decision to leave and a lot of courage to finally carry it out - which was done with feelings of enormous sadness mixed with profound relief.

    Therapy isn't just for people with bipolar or alcoholism, or whatever. It can work wonders for family members as well. On the one hand I applaud your determination to honor your vows; on the other I wonder why. I say this with affection.

    BB and BJ: Coming from you guys, your comments are taken with a deep sense of gratitude.

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  5. Christian Mental Health Counseling and RehabilitationWednesday, October 20, 2010 at 12:41:00 PM CDT

    Now that I've read your blog, I understand what mental illness really is. How long has it been since you were let out of the instution?

    And btw, I don't think that the Psychiatrist's did such a good job.

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  6. At least my psychiatrists know proper English.
    Here is the URL for these good Christians:

    http://www.therecoveryplace.net/christian-recovery.aspx?ibp-adgroup=christian&gclid=CN2Nzp-d4qQCFRhg2godgwk3Jw

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  7. wow how hateful are those Christian morons?!

    Superb job Leslie. I am so impressed with these posts, they are so well done and I know helpful to many who have been here to read. Great job GF!

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  8. Thanks, Sue. Usually I shoot this kind of crap to Spam but figured I'd let this good Christian have his moment of fame.

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  9. Wow, Christianist** way to go supporting a fellow human being and their willingness to be frank and open about life and its many struggles. Bet you are a blast at parties aren't you?

    I've gone back and read the rest of this excellent series.

    **Not to be confused with Christian people that actually follow the teaching of their Christ.

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  10. FWIW, "Christian Mental Health Counseling and Rehabilitation" could be a bored receptionist, a minimum-wage medical attendant, a janitor or patient. Whatever, that person's connection to "christian" might be nothing more than that they have access to a PC at a treatment center with that word in its name.

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  11. Jess: I'm just lucky I never got a DUI or worse, but yes, I was the proverbial party girl.
    Life is a little saner now.

    SW: I just think these kinds of comments are silly.

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  12. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria pervade one's marrow. But, somewhere this changes. The fast ideas are too fast, and there are far too many, overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friend's faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against.... you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable

    Having formerly had a severe drinking problem for years, I can tell you that this sounds astonishingly similar to how a binge-drinking session tends to go. I wonder if what's going on in the brain there is somehow similar to what alcohol does.

    I've been fortunate never to suffer from mental problems. Thanks for giving us a window into what it's like.

    And I'd be very wary of "Christian" mental anything. After all the stuff we've heard about them trying to cure people of being gay, I figure they're capable of any kind of -- if you'll forgive the word -- craziness.

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  13. Great read Leslie ... of course I am one of them primarily un-educated as to all these different specialist's and type's of disorder's, so it is enlightening for me. I understand that there are folk's that need treatment's and med's. What I have seen first hand quite a bit of are folk's from the street's and low income, who got caught in a web of petty non violent offenses, and juvi's from low income area's and foster home's, that at least the overall majority was out on many different psyche drug's. An old friend for instance, who I just picked up out of a prison release programme (200 miles south of Dallas), had been told she has problem's (bipolar)and is medicated by the state currently as term's for early release, she turned 40 year's old last May ... I known her since she was 18 (just buddies). She never seemed to me ... well out of the ordinary, took some hard hit's, has a daughter, in South Dakota, but never married. When I met her she was a model (started fashion modeling at around 13 or so, tall slender type) ... later getting into nude and semi nude for the fast cash, and published nude in a well known national men's zine, even won an award for her modeling. The guy who was shooting and promoting her contractually ripped her off (monitary- wise). She then met a young man who was a drug dealer out of Mexico City, who she thought was a business man at first ... then she got started in running drug's ... to make it short ... her boyfriend shot a DEA agent (attempted murder) in a raid ... she got coached into talking or being an accessory (attempted murder of a federal officer), and only being charged with transport and delivery of cocaine and heroin ... her boyfriend also was charged for taking out a contract of a Texas Judge as well. Now I realize that this is not average petty crime, but if it wasnt for her boyfriend she wouldnt have gotten into this mess, and those who screwed her over in the past, she is very balanced, I never known her to fly off the handle or act odd as a matter of fact ... she is put on these drug's by the state just as part of her release? I simply have alot of question's Leslie ... thank you for the education though!

    Good Evening Leslie

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  14. BTW .... love the art piece at the heading of this post!

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  15. Infidel said, "I wonder if what's going on in the brain there is somehow similar to what alcohol does." I think there are similarities but I don't know what causes what. I know there's been some "revisionist" thinking on the part of some doctors but would have to do more research to be able to address it.

    It's that old religion against science thing. People are just plain misquided who seek therapy from a church counselor. For the most part they simply don't have the training to treat anything as serious as a mental illness, period.

    RC: As pointed out earlier, much of the homeless and prison populations have some form of mental illness. They simply aren't diagnosed until they get into a controlled environment.

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  16. Thanks, Leslie, for your candor, journalistic diligence and warm interaction with readers, all part of a memorable series. If this were published in a newspaper, you would win awards, but it's not, so we'll just have to give you our own award for your service to your readers, the generosity of your spirit and the liveliness of your prose. You go, girl!

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  17. Oh tnlib, that party question was not directed at you, but I'll bet you are a blast just from reading what you write. I was talking to that supposed counsellor and his being the turd in the punch bowl at this little party right here. I get so down with people shitting on others and wonder what are we as humanity when we can dog a person for their willingness to being open.

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  18. Wow, Paula. I'm delighted with your praise, but I'm not sure I deserve it. I've said for a long time that it's the readers and their comments that make a blog and nowhere have I seen it as much as I have with this series. You are very kind and I am most appreciative. Thank you.

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  19. Infidel, et al -

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/bipolar-you/201010/alcohol-drugs-and-bipolar-disorder-bad-combination

    This is from 2002 but is more detailed:

    http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh26-2/103-108.htm

    I cannot emphasize enough that there are so many, many levels of bipolar. It can range from someone who is mildly depressed and mildly/very occasionally manic to someone who goes from debilitating lows to extreme highs on almost a routine basis. Not everyone hears voices or goes postal or throws china or becomes out-of-control angry. That's why it can be so damn difficult to diagnose.

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  20. Leslie, I know I commented on this a couple days ago.

    You are very brave to come out and talk about this. My ex-wife was psycho-active (bipolar with schizophrenic delusions), so I know how tough it can be. I wish you all goodness as you grow through this, and you know where I am, should you ever need an ear or a shoulder.

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  21. TC: Thank you for your offer. You are, as usual, so very kind.

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  22. I don’t advise kicking a doctor or tweaking his nose, but I do advise checking him out and shopping around for different models. Just as different cars meet different needs, so do doctors.

    LOL, I've wanted to kick mine a few times. We still have an HMO plan. It's far less out of pocket than the PPO and accompanying HSA's that employers like to push now, but we're extremely limited in the doctors we can go to.

    I've always said that just because there's a degree from a med school on the wall doesn't mean he/she wasn't at the bottom of the class.

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  23. Bee: "I've always said that just because there's a degree from a med school on the wall doesn't mean he/she wasn't at the bottom of the class."

    So true. And unfortunately people rarely get second opinions or are afraid to listen to their gut instincts or raise important questions.

    I had a PPO when I retired and carried it with me. My premiums for that are $75/mo which is a goodly amount for this very tiny pension. Basically, it picks up what Medicare doesn't cover and covers my meds, which are made with gold. I learned a lot about HMOs when I wrote about them some years ago, none of it very pretty. I guess I figure it's a trade off. To be able to have the doctors I want is worth giving up something else. These days I don't have much to give up but I'm still going to try to hang on to it. One day I may have to switch to an HMO, but I hope not.

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  24. You're most welcome, Leslie, and remember, craziness if a prerequisite for sanity. ;-)

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  25. Characters in the "Fellowship of the Ring," are likened to real people in Frodo's life. Our friend BJ is "Merry" of the Shire. The absence of the feminine gender among Lord Tolkien's cast has necessitated that Frodo assign a characterization to some that may not be totally right on, but damn close given the gender issue. With that in mind, Frodo would be very proud to invite another warrior into the "Fellowship," and to hereby forever dub her "Pippin." A warrior, nonetheless.

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  26. TC: I'm not insane . . . and neither am I. ; )

    Frodo: If you're talking to me, I would be honored.

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  27. Don't let the Jesusistanis get you down. As anyone who has ever had to suffer them knows all too well, Jesusistanis are far worse off than even the worst drunk, or junkie. Jesusistanis are more like meth addicts than anything else; weird, strung out, and unpredictable.

    However, in all seriousness.... my mom's cancer doc had a theory about all of the ADHD we see these days. He believes that it has something to do with the introduction of HFCS into the diets of children. And the more that I think about it, the more intrigued I am.... HFCS is far from a "normal" substance that we'd encounter in our everyday lives, and HFCS has only been prevalent for the last quarter century or so. Is there something to it? I wonder. I wonder enough that I consciously seek out foods that are HFCS free.

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  28. JR: I just tune those thumpers out.

    I grew up in a household of diabetics - my grand-mom, later my mom, and still later me (all Type IIs). Because of that and because of not having a lot of money for "extras" we weren't allowed to have much sugar of any kind. Good nutrition (lots of greens) was the key. For a diabetic, sugar is sugar whether it's raw, natural, organic, refined, unrefined or whatever. And of course, most of us are "addicted" to sugar.

    There are several schools of thought on the impact sugar has on a child's behavior. "I hate it when my kid comes home from a party - they're out of control after eating all that sugar." Well, some studies indicate that the sugar isn't what's causing this hyperactivity; it's the excitement from the party - the running around, the games, the singing, etc. The non-ADHD child will go home and settle down within a few hours. The ADHD child never settles down.

    I'm sure there are a lot of dietary and environmental factors that impact on our health and behavior these days that weren't around when I was growing up a couple of decades ago.
    But a lot of doctors and knowledgeable (balanced/non-fad types) nutritionists are no longer advocating total abstinence. Moderation is the key.

    Personally I avoid processed foods but I don't go overboard on the natural and organic either. But I think it's unwise to let children drink beverages with HFCS on a routine basis. I once saw a mother pour coke into a baby bottle and give it to her child!!!

    While these things are a factor, I think in general doctors and scientists are simply learning more and more about ADHD, bipolar, schizophrenia, etc. It used to be that crazy besotted Aunt Louise or Uncle Lou were locked away in a room in the house or sent to an asylum where they were kept in a "docile" state. Thank God, those days are pretty much over.

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  29. OK. You're bipolar as is my daughter, as are many, many, many very accomplished people. I'm just going to name a few. I'm sure you've seen the lists

    Happy go lucky Dick Cavett
    Rosemary Clooney
    Patricia Cromwell
    Richard Dreyfus
    Jack London
    Ozzy Osbourne
    Sinead O'Connor
    Edgar Allan Poe
    Charley Pride
    Vincent Van Gogh
    Brian Wilson
    Probably one of the very best philosophers of all times after Plato, Fredrich Nietzche eventually became insane. His tempers and mood swings clearly pointed to bipolar disorder.

    What I'm getting at here Leslie is that while bipolar can be debilitating, it does not have to be a stigma, nor does it have to mean that the demons always win. The “condition” can also be a source of incredible creativity and mind-boggling intelligence.

    Many philosophers have had many discussions related to this issue. Is bipolar a disability or is it an artistic gift many others are not fortunate enough to have been born with?

    I’ve worked with autistic and bipolar children at many of the hospital I worked, from Durango to Kansas, to Las Vegas. I made every effort to contact county people to involve the hospital in work programs to assist bipolar and autistic children learn to capitalize on their gift and learn to deal with us simple folk in the work force, and Leslie, I am not even coming close to patronizing you, I sincerely mean it when I say that I am absolutely convinced that these kids (and you) have the gifts the rest of us wish we could have.

    You guys are the ones who have skipped a step or two in evolution and because we can’t deal with you on our lowly level, we, the majority and the morons who’ve allowed ourselves to be convinced that you’re the once with the problems, label you, stigmatize you, shuffle you aside, simply because you don’t fit into OUR world. But perhaps, it is YOUR world and we (the “normal”) are in fact the slow, dumb, untalented misfits.

    I believe that with the right psychiatrist, prescribing the right meds so that your maintained on a level keel without destroying your creativity (and that you avoid self-medicating with alcohol, illicit or even prescription drugs to escape the demons) and with good familial support any bipolar and/or autistic person can become not only fully functional, but surpass the rest of us by light years.

    I wish you luck in finding the best road to follow and learning to work with your issues. If you feel creative, create like a whirlwind so you can see it when you come down. From what Dave DeRosa said, his downs are very bad, but seeing his art makes it better.

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  30. Boomer: Thank you so much. I've read all of your comments as you played catch-up on the previous posts and did the link thingy. DeRosa's "Pop-Impressionism," as he calls it, is unusual but eerily perceptive.

    I've only read the intros to a couple of Emmerling's but will pursue them further when time permits.

    I provided a link to lists of famous bipolar people in this article. I'm not on any of them. ; ) Maybe because my creativity only surfaces in spurts. When manic I don't have the necessary focus to develop it and when depressed I'm not interested. And my medications work so well - most of the time - that I'm too level to have the required spurts for creativity. This may explain why so many bipolars resist taking their meds.

    When my oldest was diagnosed over 20 years ago, I had access to professional databases that allowed me to do in-depth research. A couple of mothers at her school had children who were also diagnosed with bipolar. We founded the MOB - Mothers of Bipolars - which grew to over 30 other moms from across the area. Word soon spread, and because of my extensive research, mental health professionals were soon referring the parents of newly diagnosed children to me. NOT for counseling but to tell them about our group. But allow me some bragging rights here. A couple of psychologists told me I knew more about it than many of their colleagues. This isn't because I'm such a brilliant soul, just that I had spent months researching it and, sadly, many of them hadn't.

    Our group met informally once a month at a Denver restaurant. No mental health professionals were invited. We didn't want to turn these get-togethers into group therapy sessions and we wanted to be able to freely evaluate the local crop of therapists and psychiatrists. Husbands were home with the kids but could have come. No kids allowed.

    We supported each other and learned from one another. Your comment, "I believe that with the right psychiatrist, prescribing the right meds so that your maintained on a level keel without destroying your creativity. . ." would be strongly agreed to by everyone of those mothers.

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  31. "This isn't because I'm such a brilliant soul, just that I had spent months researching it"

    Research makes you brilliant - take credit where credit is due young lady. Life's hard enough for you without taking the pat on the back for everything you do.

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  32. You do the most enormous good service with this series. If I was still practicing, I'd beg to make a printout for my patients.

    Speaking of under- and over-diagnosis, there's a pretty good article in the latest issue of Time Magazine on diagnosis in children. They do a better-than-average job on mental health issues...unlike some other weekly periodicals I could name. Let me know what you think.

    Good work, woman. Thank you.

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  33. Nance: I take that as a major compliment since it's coming from someone who has actually had experience treating this thing. I will definitely take a look at Time - and yes, I agree with you. Thank you.

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  34. Great articles on bi-polar and thanks so such for writing them. I know the feeling. I'm Judy Turnipseed's husband Tom. From the ages of 15 to 23 had four different series of ECTs. This link is to a brief essay I wrote for Counterpunch when I was on a high and was considering running for the US Senate in South Carolina:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/turnipcrazy.html

    Here is another ECT list:

    "Famous people who have undergone ECT:

    * Louis Althusser, French philosopher
    * Antonin Artaud, French playwright
    * Clara Bow, American actress
    * Richard Brautigan, American writer and poet
    * Dick Cavett, TV host. In 1992 he wrote in People, "In my case, ECT was miraculous. My wife was dubious, but when she came into my room afterward, I sat up and said, 'Look who's back among the living.' It was like a magic wand."
    * Kitty Dukakis, wife of former Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis and author of Shock, a book chronicling her experiences with ECT.
    * Thomas Eagleton, American vice-presidential hopeful and running mate of George McGovern. Eagleton lost the nomination in 1972 when it was discovered he had undergone ECT. He was replaced by Sargent Shriver.
    * Roky Erickson, American singer, songwriter, harmonica player and guitarist from Texas. Founding member of the 13th Floor Elevators.
    * Frances Farmer, American cinema actress
    * Janet Frame, New Zealand writer who was wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia. Many of her works contain semi-autobiographical accounts of her treatment
    * Judy Garland, American film actress and singer
    * Harold Gimblett, British cricketer. "Rita [his wife] came to see me and couldn't believe the difference. I had some colour back in my cheeks..."
    * Peter Green, British blues guitarist
    * David Helfgott, Australian pianist
    * Ernest Hemingway, American author, committed suicide shortly after ECT treatment at the Mayo Clinic in 1961. He is reported to have said to his biographer A.E. Hotchner, "Well, what is the sense of ruining my head and erasing my memory, which is my capital, and putting me out of business? It was a brilliant cure but we lost the patient...."

    * Vladimir Horowitz, pianist
    * Pat Ingoldsby, Irish poet
    * Ken Kesey, American author
    * Vivien Leigh, British actress
    * Oscar Levant, pianist
    * Robert Lowell, American poet and writer
    * Mervyn Peake, English artist and writer
    * Robert Pirsig. His experiences, somewhat fictionalized, are mentioned in his Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values
    * Sylvia Plath, American writer
    * Cole Porter, American composer and musician
    * Bud Powell, American jazz piano pioneer
    * Dory Previn, American poet, writer and lyricist
    * Paul Robeson, American actor
    * Lou Reed, rock musician
    * Joey Ramone, born Jeffry Hyman, the lead singer of The Ramones.
    * Yves Saint Laurent, French fashion designer. He underwent treatment after serving in the French military.
    * Gene Tierney, American actress
    * Tom Turnipseed, American politician and civil rights lawyer. Political consultant Lee Atwater, who was working for Turnipseed's opponent, Floyd Spence, in a 1980 Congressional race, famously referred to this treatment as being "hooked up to jumper cables".
    * Edie Sedgwick, American socialite
    * Townes Van Zandt, country musician."

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  35. Tom T: Thank you so much for including the link to your article and this amazing list of people who have had ECT, still a very controversial treatment. However, what little I know about it says, just like medications, much has improved.

    In your article you state, "Teenage depression is a major problem and I believe my story offers hope to young people who suffer from a relentless fear of the future."

    If only parents and the public would recognize that teenage depression is very real, that it isn't simply a case of raging hormones, and seek treatment, maybe there wouldn't be such a high rate of teenage suicide.

    It's hard to feel much sympathy for people like Atwater; we're seeing the fruits of his labor even today. McGovern was always a weasel.

    I really appreciate you sharing this.

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