Let’s just lead off with the obvious – Charlie Sheen’s protracted melt down. This morning I found an article taking the position I was going to take in this week’s blog. Liz Spikol of The Philly Post, in her article So Charlie Sheen’s Bipolar, eh? The media’s diagnosis and how they got it wrong, blasts a piece in which Inquirer TV columnist Jonathan Storm shares his armchair ‘diagnosis’ that Sheen is bipolar and manic. Spikol writes:
Between the headline and the conclusion, the column is about bipolar disorder. To invoke the illness in the absence of facts is damaging.
Not to Sheen, of course. He damaged his rep without Storm’s help for most of his adult life. But it’s damaging to those of us who fight every day to educate people, to retool their expectations, to battle against the stigma that mental illness imposes.
Go, Lisa Spikol! I couldn’t have put it any more eloquently, so let’s just leave it at that for now.
Another interesting bit of news this week: Bipolar Disorder Rates Highest in U.S. Of the 11 countries participating in the study, unfortunately, we here in the US have the highest lifetime rate of BP – 4.4%.
Availability of quality psychiatric care across all 11 countries and cultural stigma associated with seeking treatment aside, one has to wonder why prevalence in the US is so high. Is it our insanely frenetic lifestyle? Maybe a genetic predisposition that by chance has decided to make the US population its home? Personally, I believe both options above are at play, as well as the US having less stigma issues overall than most other countries and cultures that participated, which allows for more affected people to reach out. By the time I reached the end of the article, it was clear the researchers had drawn the same conclusions. One of the more interesting items cited as supporting evidence:
The U.S. attracts people who believe they can achieve a better life…They come to believe they can pick up and start again. It’s a self-selected sample of people who are grandiose and impulsive. It takes a certain suspension of belief to actually believe you can come here and make it happen. Those are a significant percentage of people on the bipolar spectrum.
Hmmm….a self selected sample. Food for further thought and fodder for future blog posts.
The last article is from The Huffington Post. Today, it seems, is International Women’s Day. (No, I had no idea. My calendar lists today only as Shrove Tuesday and Pancake Day [no joke].) Rebecca Palpant wrote a nice article, Mental Illness Stigma: How Women Can Make a Big Impact Against it, wherein she declares:
To keep the momentum against stigma moving forward, we need women in the U.S. and around the world to rise up with Mrs. [Rosalynn] Carter, Ms. [Glenn] Close, and Andrea Ball to say, “No more will we discriminate against our mothers and daughters living with mental illness!”
I will take this one step further. I say,
“No more discrimination against anyone living with mental illness!”
Gender be damned.