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Clarifications

On April 14th 2011, Catherine Zeta Jones came out to the world that
she suffered from Bipolar II Disorder. Merely a year later, on June
15, 2012, Jones made an appearance on ABC’s The View and Joy Behar
inquired about her experience of Bipolar Disorder. Zeta briefly
responded to the query then moved onto promoting her upcoming film.

Now here we have a problem. We live in a society that often times
manifests fears and ignorance about mental illness and here is a prime
example of an opportunity to clarify Bipolar I versus Bipolar II which
unfortunately didn’t happen. With a celebrity driven culture, we have
a window to engage in an open dialogue about mental illness and
recognize the fundamental differences between Bipolar I and Bipolar II
but we don’t capitalize on them. Mr. Tiger Blood Charlie Sheen has
displayed blatant manic episodes live on national television and you
tube yet everyone just called him “crazy.” Such examples leave us at
a loss to educate and communicate to the public about this relatively
unknown disease.

I can only speak to my own experience of living with Bipolar II so here we go…

At the eye of my hypo manic state was a quiet depression. Bipolar I
disorder is fueled by ups and downs whereas chronic hypo manic is a
constant level of mania which, in my experiences, has an underlying
depression. When I would fly through the streets of New York going
here then doing that I was out of control similar to a state of
depression where you feel trapped. On the surface I seemed to be
happier than most people but in a heightened state of mania there is a
sadness which I call a manic in depression versus a manic depressive.
Post graduation I lived in New York and went from job to job, man to
man, scene to scene. I was more or less a Tasmanian devil. I talked
fast, walked fast, thought fast and whirled around town with no
knowledge of the harmful nature of my disease. Harmful only when you
don’t know why you behave the way you do or what you need to do to
help yourself.

When the words Bipolar II came out of my psychiatrist mouth I was
like, what the heck is THAT?! Now I know. I could have saved myself
years of turmoil had I known to educate myself on mental illness. But
hind sight is always 20/20, right? 

Recently an old friend of mine from my days of mania moved to LA. We
sat down and she was mesmerized by the changes in my behavior. She
admitted that back in the day I was often times too much to handle.
Too over the top. She recalled nights we would go out till the break
of dawn and she would crash and I would get up after an hour of sleep
and go running. She told me stories of how I would march straight up
to a bouncer of a club like I owned the place and get us in to all the
VIP sections without ever waiting in a line. I don’t know who I
thought I was but my grandiosity seemed to get me places. That same
grandiosity also got me into harmful places. Now I am medicated. I
don’t miss the manic high and thankfully have friends that recall my
sick days. Maybe I don’t multitask like I used to but I can sleep
through a night. And when I get tired of opening my pill box and
popping my pill twice a day I recall those wild times in New York. I
recall all the stories that are yet to be told which I will continue
to share in an effort to stop the madness of choosing to be ignorant
or afraid of a disease most know nothing about. Bipolar II is not so
complicated when we have clarification. And with clarification we
have a starting point to a more thorough education and awareness that
hopefully will find a seat on a show like “The View” when the next
celeb gets outted on TMZ and has to face the world.

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