Stigma of Bi-Polar Takes a Hit

Stigma of Bi-Polar takes a Hit

In this week’s edition of People magazine, the well known actress, Catherine Zeta Jones, made public that in April of this year, she had checked into a mental health clinic in Connecticut and subsequently been given a diagnosis of Bi-Polar II, which consists of times of depression and episodes of mild mania.

Another actress this week, Demi Lovata, said that while she did not know Ms. Jones, her actions in making her story public was “so brave…and so difficult”.

And so it is, and that is part of the problem. Catherine Zeta Jones said there were millions of Americans suffering from this illness, and she was just one of them.

I know from the many talks and seminars I present, that a number of people, attorneys and paralegals, as well as their friends and families, suffer from all sorts of depression. Some seek help, including therapy and medication. Others do not. One reason people are hesitant to seek help is that they are concerned about what others may think of them. They are embarrassed. They do not want to admit, even to themselves, they are not well. And so they pretend…and often the illness gets worse, depriving them of living happier and more productive lives.

Long ago, when it was first suggested to me that I see a doctor (psychiatrist), I resisted, even breaking my first appointment. I was admitted to Duke Hospital for a week and subsequently got a diagnosis, in part, somewhat similar.

If you have ever come to one of my programs, you know that I speak pretty freely about this time in my life. It has been helpful to me to continue to do so. But it took a long time for me to get to that point. It was not easy.

Only when it becomes easier for people… only when it is not seen as “brave and courageous” will we have really begun to fight back against the illness of depression and its cousin…being bipolar.

It will be very nice when one day I can ask a group of people if they would be willing to seek help for mental issues they might be having, and they all raise their hands and say “yes”. Until then, I applaud those people, well known, who are willing to make their lives public in this way.
 

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