A few years ago, when I was writing the Mental Health Notes blog for b5media, I ran into an old Rolling Stone interview with Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver) in which he talks about his battles with depression and substance abuse how he was finally diagnosed with – and received proper medication for – bipolar disorder.
I was only vaguely aware, though, that his now estranged wife, Mary Weiland, was also dealing with demons of her own – namely, her own drug addiction and bipolar disorder.
According to Roadrunner Records’ Blabbermouth, Mary Weiland’s memoir Fall to Pieces: A Memoir of Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Mental Illness will hit shelves on October 27, 2009, and in it:
“[...] Weiland describes the extreme highs and lows of her life, the volatility of which long hinted at mental illness. Working with acclaimed journalist Larkin Warren, Weiland tells her story with refreshing candor, unflinching detail, and more than a little humor. Reminiscent of celebrity memoirs by Tatum O’Neill, Brooke Shields, and Valerie Bertinelli, Weiland’s story offers a window into the world of modeling and rock ‘n’ roll celebrity while providing deep insights into a serious and misunderstood psychological disorder.”
Comments under the Blabbermouth article aren’t encouraging – most folks seem to think this memoir is a way for Mary to “cash in” on her life’s dramas. Maybe it is, but I’m willing to bet there was a bit more motive behind penning the story.
I watched Mental last night, and quite frankly, I wasn’t as disappointed as I thought I’d be.
*pause for collective gasp from the audience*
Now, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t blown away. I wasn’t even impressed (well, with some things I was, but more on that later); I’m just saying I wasn’t as disappointed as reviews led me to believe I’d be.
In case you didn’t watch it, here’s the gist:
Dr. Jack Gallagher, after working as some amazing doctor with Doctors Without Borders in Somalia (I think?) and running a clinic for veterans with PTSD in Vermont (I think?) gets hired at LA’s Wharton Memorial Hospital as the Director of Mental Health Services. Naturally, all the other psychiatrists feel a bit jilted that they weren’t hired, so, tension ensues. Couple that jealousy (and arrogance – a few of the doctors were just plain arrogant) with Gallagher’s unorthodox ways of doing business and, well, you pretty much have the first episode of Mental: A bit of a beatnik shrink doling out unconventional methods amidst a resistant and mistrustful staff.
Now, for my thoughts.
(UPDATE: I’ve since posted my own review of Mental. Please take a deep breath before bashing it. )
FOX’s new “medical mystery drama” Mental premieres tonight. According to FOX:
MENTAL is a medical mystery drama featuring Dr. Jack Gallagher, a radically unorthodox psychiatrist who becomes Director of Mental Health Services at a Los Angeles hospital where he takes on patients battling unknown, misunderstood and often misdiagnosed psychiatric conditions. Gallagher delves inside their minds to gain a true understanding of who his patients are, allowing him to uncover what might be the key to their long-term recovery.
Hmm. A “radically unorthodox” doctor who “delves inside” the minds of “patients battling unknown, misunderstood and often misdiagnosed psychiatric conditions”? Mental sounds suspiciously like, oh, I don’t know – House?
It’s not getting such hot reviews, either.
“Secrets are no good [...] I was brought up in a family where we had so many secrets. It felt so good to let the world know I was human and suffered from depression and I wasn’t that perfect person everyone thought I was.” – Maureen McCormick.
Last Tuesday, Maureen McCormick, The Brady Bunch star and Celebrity Fit Club winner, spoke about her struggles with mental health issues, eating disorders, and substance abuse – as well as how growing up in a family full of secrets affected her mental health – at “Conversations,” a series that’s part of the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting. The series is designed to shine a light on perspectives on mental illness from well-known individuals and has included such famous names as Patty Duke, Brooke Shields, and Carrie Fisher.
McCormick wasn’t always so open about her mental health problems; in fact, she didn’t publicly address any of it until after her appearance on Celebrity Fit Club in 2007. When she finally did, it was no casual mention: She published Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice and has become committed to fighting mental illness stigma.
Obviously I want to shine the Mental Health Month Spotlight on Maureen McCormick because she’s using her own story as a way to help others, but what’s even more impressive is just how honest she’s been since sharing her story.
Okay, so he’s not a celebrity in the traditional sense, but Peter Ashenden is pretty darn well known around the mental health world.
How could he not be?
He’s the president of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), a member of numerous mental health boards and committees, travels the country as a keynote speaker, and has served as both a commissioner of the Certification Commission of the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA) and the executive director for the Mental Health Empowerment Project (MHEP).
And he talked with me last month about the DBSA’s involvement with Blueprint for Hope, the new depression awareness and advocacy campaign also backed by ABC’s Paige Hemmis and the University of Louisville’s Dr. Jesse H. Wright.
It’s no secret that Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) has seen times as dark as some of his music.
During the period between 1994′s The Downward Spiral and 1999′s The Fragile albums (and especially after the not-so-successful The Fragile), Reznor struggled with substance abuse, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
And, if you’re familiar with it at all, “Hurt” – one of Reznor’s many most well-known songs from The Downward Spiral – sounds like an anthem for folks struggling with the same kinds of issues.
Reznor has spoken publicly about his battles with drug addiction and mental health issues. During a 2007 interview with Heather Adler, Reznor stated:
“I hated everything. I hated everyone. I hated everything about myself. I hated music. I didn’t care about anything [...] That’s a bleak place to wind up at, but things couldn’t be further away from that now. I was certainly depressed and I was in the thralls of withdrawal for about a year after the Fragile tour [...] Through my actions, I was certainly behaving in an irresponsible enough way that I was, in a cowardly way, trying to end it.”
As far as I’m concerned, Robert Downey, Jr. is one of the success stories after which every other success story should model itself.
Maybe you’re fairly aware of some of the things Robert Downey, Jr.’s gone through, and maybe you’re not. In addition to his very public battles with drug addiction and all that generally accompanies it (bizarre behavior, crime, rehab facilities’ revolving doors, prison stints, and probation and parole violations), he’s suffered from depression and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder by one psychiatrist.
But, you’d have to be living under a rock to be unaware of all Robert Downey, Jr.’s personal and professional triumphs over the past few years.
Phil Harvey plays an interesting role with Coldplay. He was critical in getting the first 50 copies of the band’s Safety EP sold and helping the band rocket to fame, acted as Coldplay’s manager for while and, although he doesn’t perform with the band (at least, I don’t think he does), Coldplay has listed him on album sleevenotes as the fifth member.
Coldplay’s MySpace page actually titles Harvey as “the wise handsome frightening one who tells us what to do.”
Whatever that means.
All of that is interesting enough, but what shines the Mental Health Month Spotlight on Harvey isn’t what he does with Coldplay; it’s what he does for the mental health community.
You might not know who this kid is yet, but if he keeps doing what he’s doing, it probably won’t be long before you do.
His name is Zack Greinke, he’s the starting pitcher for the Kansas City Royals, and, according to NBCWashington.com, he’s won each of the six games he’s started, struck out 54 batters in 45 innings, only given up two earned runs, and has “a 95 mph heater and a 60 mph curve and everything in between.”
So why am I shining a spotlight on him during Mental Health Month?
Well, also according to NBCWashington.com, Greinke has achieved all this with “a history of personal hell behind him”:
Three years ago, Greinke gave up baseball. Doctors would determine that he was a victim of depression and a mental illness called social anxiety disorder. It’s the same thing that Ricky Williams, the Dolphins running back, has battled, and it makes being among people and having to interact with them sheer torture.
After taking time off and receiving his diagnosis, Greinke started taking medication and attending counseling and therapy sessions – all of which has helped him get back in the game.
Mike Celizic, the article’s writer, claims baseball has finally given us a hero. Given everything Greinke has been through, the way in which he bowed out to take care of himself, and how he’s now achieving so much, I’m inclined to agree with him. Greinke represents how very possible it is for people who struggle with mental health issues to succeed once they understand they have to pause and take care of themselves first and foremost, seek help, and learn how to properly treat and manage their conditions.
I’m not a fan of baseball, but I’m definitely now a fan of Zack Greinke’s.
Paige Hemmis isn’t the only member of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition family to use mental health struggles and star power to bring about mental health awareness and education.
Designer Ty Pennington, who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) when he was 17 years old, participated in NAMIWalks NYC 2009, NAMI New York City Metro’s NAMIWalks event this past Saturday.
If you’re a NAMI member or live in a city that has a NAMI affiliate or support group, you’re probably familiar with NAMIWalks, the annual events held throughout the nation to help raise mental health health awareness and funds for mental health research, education, support, and advocacy.
NAMIWalks NYC 2009 certainly wasn’t Pennington’s first venture into the world of mental health awareness and advocacy. In 2007 he launched Art*Design*Home*Design (ADHD – get it?), a trendy furniture boutique in Venice, California (of course, I have no idea what’s become of this store as the website doesn’t work and I’ve read about some possible unfortunate legal and financial situations), and he’s also presented ADHD scholarships and spoken with students enrolled in Sherwood Middle School’s Bridge Program for students with mental and behavioral issues such as ADHD.
If you’re interested in joining your area’s NAMI, you can search for the closest affiliation or support group in your state. Don’t have one nearby? Contact your state’s NAMI to find out how to get one started!
Image Credit: ShootsNikon