If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it would be understandable if you are feeling a combination of things. Relieved that there is finally an explanation for your behavior the last few months or even years can be followed by dread. Manic one moment could find you shopping as if it were an Olympic competition, sleeping with multiple partners to fill a void, or engaging in numerous other potentially harmful activities. As high as the euphoria was when you charged that 52 flat screen TV or the $1500 bag that you saw on the arm of your favorite celebrity or as intense as the feelings of love experienced with each partner you slept with, when the pendulum swung the other direction, the depression and self loathing could be scary. Scary not just you but also for anyone who watched you: baffled, powerless and probably too embarrassed to get help.
For anyone who has lived with someone with bipolar, also called BPD, it can be downright frightening. Unsure who they would meet up with, Ms. Flying High as a Kite or Mr. Down in the Dumps hating on life, the uncertainty of how to approach you must have been a living hell. If you self medicated with drugs or alcohol to make things quiet or minimize the intensity of the swings, on many levels it is probably what saved you. Erratic behavior may not be what brought your family to the realization that something was seriously wrong, but using cocaine or another dangerous drug may have been the "straw the broke the camel’s back.
And here you are, in recovery and working one day at a time to stay clean and finally with a diagnosis for why you did the things you did and for taking the drugs you did, surely you must be wondering two things: Why me and What next?
If you are in rehab, you have probably received lots of reading material that can explain the what next and the why me very clearly to you. Maybe it’s time to let you know that you are far from alone. The more scientists, doctors and researchers discover about the brain, the more you will continue to benefit. Not only will companies continue to make the best medications to help you keep your highs and lows more balanced, but therapy will help you learn coping skills so even if you find yourself drifting toward thoughts that scare you, you’ll know how to address them. A wonderful result of knowing more and more about bipolar is that celebrities are coming forward and admitting that they too suffer from this illness. Some may still keep it under wraps and others may still be undiagnosed, but by and large the beautiful people of the world are happy to let you on their secret. Life isn’t always as beautiful for them as we glamorize their lives to be.
You’re in Good Company
If only to feel a sense of belonging and perhaps that celebrities are human beings after all, it might help to know in whose good company you have been keeping.
Regardless of the order you saw the Star Wars movies and how old you are, you surely know who Carrie Fisher is. Although a doctor diagnosed her "hypomanic" when she was 24, Fisher wouldn’t grasp the gravity of her diagnoses until she overdosed on drugs four years later. Today she is extremely open about being bipolar, her past drug and alcohol use, her depression and breakdowns both in her writing and in person.
The Forgetting Sarah Marshall actor admits that by age 11 he was binge eating and purging and not long after started into drugs and alcohol. In all likelihood his addictions can be blamed on self-medicated, which he learned when he went to rehab. Clean and sober, and having survived his failed and short lived marriage to singer Kate Perry, Brand is more successful now than ever. A book author, stand up comic, and actor, Russell is clearly not letting bipolar stand in his way!
We loved him in Zoolander and There’s Something About Mary. Comedian Ben Stiller may not be as vocal about being bipolar as some celebrities, but he doesn’t hide it either. His parents, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara (both actors and comedians) have suffered with depression most of their lives and as he phrases it, I’ve got a rich history of bipolar manic depression in my family.
Whether you love her music or not, most people have heard of Britney Spears. Breaking into the music scene in her mid teens, her provocative lyrics and highly sexualized performances at a young age shot her to stardom almost overnight. Her erratic behavior has been the subject of many tabloid stories and had many fans’ tongues wagging. From having one of the shortest marriages in history to wearing multi-colored wigs in public to shaving her head bald to walking in gas station bathrooms barefoot to being caught doing numerous illicit drugs, Britney’s antics can easily be attributed to bipolar disorder. Not only is Britney being successfully treated for BPD, she has been clean and sober for about three years. Under the legal care of her both her father and fiancée, Britney is fortunate to enjoy an incredible return to stardom. Perhaps initially curious whether she could really pull off a comeback, no doubt fans bought her sixth studio album, Circus to prove she didn’t have it. Well, 4 million copies later and the single Hold it Against Me, from her 7th studio album, Femme Fatale, Britney has beyond a shadow of a doubt that bipolar or not, Britney is unstoppable!