Thursday, April 14, 2011

Catherine Zeta Jones And Bipolar Disorder

Yesterday Catherine Zeta Jones revealed that she had recently undergone treatment for Bipolar II disorder, and I think that is amazing. Catherine Zeta Jones is one of my favourite actresses, but I admire her even more now. She has shown a great deal of courage in revealing she has the disorder, as there is still a stigma around mental illness. Most people suffer in silence and shame, and that's just wrong.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Bipolar II disorder is a form of Bipolar disorder marked by irritation and a mildly elevated mood - a state known as hypomania. It's generally less debilitating than Bipolar I, a condition marked by mood swings and a severe mood elevation known as mania. Previously it was called manic depression because of the mood swings.

People with Bipolar II can generally continue to function, Dr. Thomas Wise, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School, told CBS News. "It can cause excessive energy and lots of optimism and being really flighty in terms of ideas," he said. "The symptoms can be a little annoying to others, but people can still work."  Wise said stress can sometimes trigger symptoms of Bipolar disorder, but typically in people who have a hereditary predisposition to the disorder.  Those with Bipolar II tend to have more depression, with the mood swings spread over a longer time and the "up" periods less elevated. The episodes can be triggered by major stress or life changes.  With appropriate treatment - often drug therapy with lithium or another mood stabilizer and psychotherapy - people with Bipolar II generally have an excellent prognosis, said Dr. Wise.

I believe my mother suffered from a mild form of Bipolar disorder. I adored my mother, and in retrospect, I feel so bad for how she must have suffered.  Her mood swings were like an itch she had to scratch. She would let off steam by yelling and hollering, and then she felt better. Once it had happened, my brothers and I were in the clear for perhaps a few hours, or even days or weeks, until it all built up again. Often my mother would go for days without speaking to anyone, she would be in such a deep depression.  Those times were the worst.  We, of course, felt like anxious, weary, battle-scarred little warriors.  The sad thing is, when she was angry or depressed, we all thought she didn't love us.  But she did love us, and and she would be devastated to know what a profound and lasting effect her moods had on our lives.

My mother was a very creative person, and often creativity and Bipolar seem to coexist.  I was very proud of my mother for her beauty, her artistic abilities, her charm, intelligence and warmth; she had a certain je ne sais quoi that none of my friends' mothers had. She was magical and she had that mysterious thing called star quality.  But I realize now she also had Bipolar disorder, and she was as much a victim of her disorder -- if not more so -- than we were.  Today is the anniversary of the passing of my mother from this earth.  She left behind so many beautiful memories, but also some very deep scars which have taken time to heal.  I wonder how different our lives might have been if my mother had received the treatment she so obviously needed.

Margaret Trudeau suffered from Bipolar disorder all her life, until she finally sought help. She said, "There is no shame in having the disease, the shame is in having the disease and not getting help for it." In that regard, I applaud Catherine Zeta Jones.  The spotlight will not only be on her, but also on her courage.

15 comments:

Rebecca said...

Incredible post. Courage is something to be celebrated and I thank you for this post. Soooo enlightening to read that someone like Ms. Jones sought out help and isn't afraid to talk about it.

Now...if she'll STOP SMOKING and take care of her physical body like her mind I might just do the happy dance!

Thanks girly~

Rebecca

Leslie: said...

Great post and you know what I've been thru with D2...

Country Girl said...

What a beautifully written and heartfelt post. Bravo to Catherine Zeta Jones, and to you as well, for realizing the pain your mother must have felt. How lucky you were to have such a magic mother. Well, lucky at times . . .

Alicia said...

She's definitely a very beautiful and talented actress. I'm sure her courage in speaking out is going to be helpful to many.

Linda Myers said...

My mother has been gone since 2008 and for some reason I'm wondering, now, why she was so difficult to live with when I was growing up. I never knew what her mood would be like when I got home from school, whether she would yell or give me the silent treatment.

When she got dementia, she was much easier to get along with. She seemed to have forgotten how selfish and lazy and disagreeable I was, and was grateful for everything I did.

I'm still mad, though. Go figure!

Nancy said...

I wonder if hormones have anything to do with it?

Charlene said...

I heard this on the news this morning and my thought was: Even the beautiful, talented, rich, thin have troubles.

DJan said...

I am also glad she has come out with this revelation. I didn't know she also smokes, which is a terrible thing to do to yourself and your loved ones. Very interesting about your own situation, Jo. Thank you so much for sharing it.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

It can only help others with this condition when someone famous and admired comes forth and admits to having it. I agree with Margaret Trudeau completely.

Sending you warm hugs on the anniversary of your beautiful mother's death, Jo. Childhood scars are the most difficult to outgrow because being small, powerless and abused makes us believe that we are at fault, when in truth it is never about children.

Susan said...

Isn't it remarkable how we each hear something like this through our own filters? Your mind went to your mother - others to their own struggles - others to an understanding that a so-called 'star' is just a human being with their own struggles.
My mind began an examination of conscience, wondering if pretty Catherine and I have something in common. And if my own history of a lifetime of mood swings, seldom too high or too low, but rarely resting in a comfortable middle, are reflected in relatives.
I'm not sure but I'll tell you it's rattled me. Because the answer is "maybe".

Russell said...

Every person has her/his own particular demons and devils to fight at times. Some are more pronounced than others.

We are fortunate that there is so much help available today in the form of medications, counseling, support groups, and so forth.

Mental health used to be a topic people never talked about nor admitted. But it is fairly common for people to deal with depression, anxiety and other issues.

The mind is a very powerful thing and can directly affect a pesron's physical health.

It is time for our society, and more importantly individual people, to step up, face reality and deal with it.

Life is too short as it is. We need to enjoy it as much as possible and that means taking care of both our physical and mental needs.

Good post - as always.

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

A bitter/sweet story. Yes, so sad that help wasn't so easily available, in years past.

I too think it very brave of this actress to be open about this. Much good may come of her being so.

Gentle hugs,
.♥.

Jo said...

Thank you for this enlightened post, Jo.

If stress has anything to do with triggering Bipolar II disorder, it's small wonder Jones got it. Can you imagine the stress of caring for young children, and their father with such a deadly form of cancer?

Your understanding and forgiveness toward your mother is an example to all who merely point to their parents to place blame for their own shortcomings. What a loving gesture.

Mer said...

This post made me think, and that part of the story about your mother almost brought tears to my eyes. My mother also has similar behaviors (she's more towards the passive-aggressive side) and I sometimes have bipolar reactions as well.
I realized first that indeed my mother loves me, even if I also feel like a battle-scarred warrior too...and I really don't want to do this to my loved ones as well. I should take more care with myself.
Thank you!

Mer said...

This post made me think, and that part of the story about your mother almost brought tears to my eyes. My mother also has similar behaviors (she's more towards the passive-aggressive side) and I sometimes have bipolar reactions as well.
I realized first that indeed my mother loves me, even if I also feel like a battle-scarred warrior too...and I really don't want to do this to my loved ones as well. I should take more care with myself.
Thank you!