Archives for September, 2010

Lindsay Lohan: Mental Illness as Entertainment

Ladies and Gentlemen! Step right up! See the beautiful, addicted starlet in handcuffs! Marvel at her intractable antics! Watch her in night clubs as she publicly defies court orders! Ladies and gentlemen,  Lindsay Lohan is not news. She is not entertainment. She is mentally ill. She has alcoholism. She is an addict. She is not weak-willed, oblivious or stupid . She is sick. "When an individual persists in use of alcohol or other drugs despite problems related to use of the substance, substance dependence may be diagnosed. Compulsive and repetitive use may result in tolerance to the effect of the drug and withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped. This, along with substance abuse are considered Substance Use Disorders...."   DSM-IV
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Hypomania: Bipolar Lite

There was an article about me in the New York Times yesterday. It's on the front page of the Business section: Just Manic Enough: Seeking the Perfect Entrepreneur. I am not actually mentioned in the article. It's about a brilliant young entrepreneur named Seth Priesbatsch. But it might as well be about me and my hypomania. " "Elevated" hardly describes this guy. To keep the pace of his thoughts and conversations at manageable levels, he runs on a track every morning until he literally collapses. He can work 96 hours in a row. He plans to live in his office...He does not socialize. He no longer reads books, nor does he watch TV or movies. He works from 8 am until 10 pm, seven days a week." Seth, I love you, man!
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My Depression and My Hot Pink Pill Dispenser

It's Wednesday. Time to fill my weekly pill dispenser. I open a drawer that holds three brown prescription bottles filled with three months worth of my medications. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 I drop pills into each compartment and then snap them shut. I tuck my hot-pink pill dispenser beside the coffee maker on my kitchen counter - out of plain sight but not to be missed when I pour the day's first cup of coffee.
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Alcoholism & Depression: Dually Blessed

Last week I went to my first 12-step meeting for the "dually-blessed" - those of us who have alcoholism AND another mental illness (Yes, Virginia, alcoholism REALLY IS A MENTAL ILLNESS. The American Medical Association said so in 1957.) It was the first time in a long time that I felt free to talk about ALL my mental illnesses - alcoholism and bipolar II (hypomania) without someone shooting me an evil look. If you think the stigma of mental illness is strong "out there" you should see it in the recovery community. Every time I write about this I hear from dual-diagnosed recovered alcoholics who live in an enlightened community - such as Boston - who insist this discrimination does not exist. But let me tell you, it is real. The gist is this: you are not truly clean and sober if you take any "mind altering" medications - such as anti-depressants, mood stabilizers or anti-psychotics.
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Being Vincent: On Feeling Van Gogh’s Mania and Depression

Vincent van Gogh's last self-portrait is on exhibit at our local art museum until February. It is on loan from the National Gallery in Washington - swapped for Gaugin's self-portrait in Gesthemane, which he painted shortly after his friend Vincent killed himself. One of my editors invited me to write an article on van Gogh's mental illnesses, which is like inviting me to shop at Nordstrom's with your credit card. Of course I will write an article on van Gogh.
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