- There’s a reason why I don’t read a lot of tabloids or visit websites like TMZ. Because when I do, I usually come away terribly offended. I remember when Britney Spears first started taking antidepressants in early 2007, and the tabloids threw that into the same category as her panty-less photos. Really? The two are related? Because I’ve never read a story about, say, a diabetic celeb whose taking insulin was tossed into the same kinds of headlines as, well, a night with porn stars.
Bipolar sufferers and addicts now have yet another “bi-winning” poster boy to represent their serious issues: Just sacked Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen, who apparently thinks that people struggling with mood disorders are a bunch of whiners who can’t get over the egg-salad sandwiches their mommies made them for lunch back in elementary school. “But all my friends had peanut butter and jelly … and they made fun of me…,” Sheen pretended to gripe.
Here’s the transcript of Sheen (whose dad’s work I adore, by the way) and Good Morning America’s Andrea Canning in a recent exclusive ABC interview:
Canning: Your anger and your hate is coming off as erratic to people.
Sheen: Passion….my passion.
Canning: Okay. Your passion is coming off as erratic.
Sheen: Yeah, well you borrow my brain for five seconds, and you’d be like dude, I can’t handle it, unplug this bastard … Because it fires in a way that is not part of this terrestrial realm.
Canning: Some people are saying that you’re bipolar.
Sheen: Wow. What does that mean?
Canning: I guess that, you know, you’re on two ends of the spectrum?
Sheen: Wow. And then what? What’s the cure? Medicine? Make me like them? Not going to happen….I’m bi-winning. I win here and I win there. Now what?…If I’m bipolar aren’t there moments when a guy crashes in the corner [Charlie acts like a crying baby] and says “Oh my God, it’s all my mom’s fault”… Shut up! Stop. Move forward.
Alrighty then. Now there’s a clip to inspire those of us who battle legitimate demons on a regular basis and are throwing absolutely everything we have at our health. Charlie is right on, I say. All of my problems are rooted in my mom taking away my pacifier prematurely and only breastfeeding for a few weeks. (So selfish.)
Now, I get that Charlie Sheen is Charlie Sheen and I certainly do not rely on Charlie Sheen as a resource for my self-esteem. I think I can make it without his approval. But what does sincerely irk me is the echo of what the mainstream media think of people who are actually bipolar. Our illness is never presented in a nuanced, fair way. Even Andrea’s definition — “you’re on two ends of the spectrum” — does little to educate the public about what it really feels like to be bipolar.
If movie stars aren’t spreading toxic junk about manic depression in exclusive interviews with the networks, they’re muttering lies on the big screen. Even Matt Damon (though I love him, too) was involved in perpetuating myths of bipolars as pathological liars and criminals in the 2009 movie, The Informant.
In terms of Hollywood, one of the wisest lines about mood disorders was uttered in the 1997 flick, As Good As It Gets, when Melvin (Jack Nicholson) says to Carol (Helen Hunt): “You make me want to be a better man. You make me want to take my meds.”
Bacause that’s just it. No one likes to take meds. Taking meds is the difficult choice, not the easiest one. Almost everyone I know who has a serious mood disorder struggles with having to take meds. If you think popping Prozac or Zoloft or Lithium is as easy as popping a Mentos, then you probably haven’t sat down long enough to listen to someone who’s battling a serious mood disorder.
I mean, hell, the reason I take my meds is because my husband issued me the closest thing to an ultimatum back when I was recklessly screwing around with trying to change my brain myself with sheer willpower and meditation. That day he found me in the fetal position, shaking, and said, point-blank, “I can’t be a caretaker my entire life,” is what got my butt to the right psychiatrist and gave me the impetus to stay with her and follow her directions.
Those are the reasons I take my meds. To be a better wife and mother, a responsible sister, and friend. Because I know that I am one giant pain in the ass when I don’t take them, and that if I were to dismiss all my psychological garbage as “passion,” then I’d simply be copping out. And there’s nothing bi-winning about that, Charlie.
This is author Therese Borchard’s third post for Blisstree; she’ll be blogging for us on a weekly basis about all kinds of mental health, depression, and therapy issues. Find her previous posts here. Have a question for Therese? Leave it in our comments section, below.
Therese J. Borchard is Associate Editor of Psych Central, where she regularly contributes to the award-winning blog, World of Psychology. She also writes the daily blog, Beyond Blue, on Beliefnet, which is featured weekly on The Huffington Post and several other websites, and moderates the popular depression support group, Beyond Blue, on Beliefnet’s community site. Therese is the author of Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes and The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Kit. She resides in Annapolis, MD with her husband, Eric, and their two children.