The Bipolar Beauty: Catherine Zeta-Jones

Mental Health Groups Hail Star’s Bipolar Admission

Aside from being an absolutely gorgeous woman, she’s brave, too! Revealing it to the world is a huge thing. She opened herself up to judgment and ridicule. The comment sections in blogs and news outlets, shows just how much she’s getting:

Catherine Zeta-Jones Checks into a Mental Health Facility

The comments that anger me the most are the ones that claim that bipolar isn’t real. Seriously? Completely ignorant, and insensitive is a given. This illness is very much real and is also known as manic depression. The term bipolar is used more now.

Catherine Zeta-Jones was diagnosed Bipolar II, a “less severe” form of the disease. Those with Bipolar II have a lot of depressive episodes and experience hypomania – increased energy, rapid thoughts. You’ll notice a change in them, but it’s not a night and day difference.

By revealing this, she is chipping away at the stigma of mental illness. People also can learn more about it, as evidenced by many doctors explaining her condition in articles and on TV. Many people with bipolar are high-functioning, mostly due to a good med cocktail keeping them stable. You wouldn’t know they were bipolar unless they told you. Like me.

Unfortunately, I was dealt a hand that includes the “more severe” form of bipolar. Bipolar I. While those with Bipolar II become hypomanic, they don’t have full-blown manic episodes.

Ah mania. The last one I experienced was 12 years ago when I was diagnosed. A manic episode is typically when you’re diagnosed with Bipolar I. People are usually diagnosed with depression first. Then bam, the manic episode comes and screams, “Alert! Alert! Bipolar I”

Mania sucks. The hypomanic episode that precedes it is frickin’ awesome. You’re energized. You take on projects. Even though your mind is racing, it can be a very productive, fun time. Then comes mania. This is where you can’t sleep for days, your speech is as rapid as your thoughts, and you feel too on top of the world. This is when you can do some really crazy, dangerous crap.

Like driving for hours, circling the Bay Area numerous times, putting hundreds of miles on your car in a day. Like walking the streets in Waikiki at 2:00 AM chatting it up with hookers and homeless people. Like picking up hitch hikers. Nothing can stop you. You feel invincible. People close to you see the change and recommend that you go the hospital. Oh hell no! You don’t need doctors! Life is awesome! Then, if you haven’t gotten yourself killed, you will eventually crash and burn. That’s the time when you feel the need to go to the hospital. You stay for a while, stabilize, and remember all the crap you did. Nope. It wasn’t all just a bad movie.

Thanks to an amazing psychiatrist who helped me figure out the right medicine combination to take (after trial and error), I am stable. I don’t go through all that crap anymore. Better living through chemistry. Sort of.

Stability comes at a price. Some of the drugs have horrendous side effects. One that I was on for a year and didn’t work made me gain 20 lbs. I thought, “Screw this. I don’t want to be fat and depressed.” I stopped taking it and lost the weight. And a patch of hair.

The drugs I’m on now have killed my memory, both short and long-term. The short-term loss is the most severe, though. Many times, I seriously can’t remember things I’ve done 5 minutes ago. I’ve left keys in the door. I’ve done some tasks only to realize I already did them. At work, all I can say is, “Thank you Baby Jesus for Outlook reminders.”

The price of stability may be high, but I’ll pay it. No mania and no depression so bad you don’t get out of bed for days. I am able to work and live a “normal” life. If I were to rate my mood and feelings on a scale of 0-10, most days fall in the 4-6 range. I don’t want to go back to having 4-6s, 0s and 10s. This is why I paid the price and would do it again if need be.

So, I thank Catherine Zeta-Jones for sharing her diagnosis. I wish her well and hope she feels better soon. And finds a good med cocktail. It can get better.

18 responses to “The Bipolar Beauty: Catherine Zeta-Jones

  • Snoring Dog Studio

    You’re an amazing person, Spinny. You’ve got a great attitude and a generous spirit. Thank you for sharing this piece about Bipolar disorder and yourself.

  • dcmartin

    My oldest sister is Bipolar I. Sadly, she is nowhere near as pulled together as you…….she is constantly stopping her meds because when she is doing well with them, she thinks she has it beat. 😦 She goes through jobs like a child through Toys R Us, and her credit is shot to hell and back. Sometimes I can hear from her at least monthly, and sometimes it is YEARS. She has nieces and nephews she has never met because she disappears constantly.
    Thank you for speaking out and sharing your story. My fondness for you just keeps growing.

    • Spinny Liberal

      Pulled together. Some days more than others. 🙂

      Oh Lord I’ve done that – stopping meds because I felt better…which was because of the meds. Duh.

      I hope she does finally realize that the meds are what will really keep her together. But only if she keeps taking them.

      Thanks for reading! And regarding the fondness, right backatcha. 😀

  • The Hook

    You’re right, she is very brave – and so are you! Your courage is commendable. Good job, buddy!

  • pbenjay

    Spinny, I think you’re the courageous one. I’m so glad you stuck through the trial and error phase and found the right cocktail. Sadly, my EX-spouse would not and therefore he earned the prefix. Props to CZJ!

    • Spinny Liberal

      Aww thanks pb. You know, it’s so easy to give up during that trial and error time. Especially when you aren’t making progress, but it’s worth it in the end. Hopefully, your ex will try again for his sake. Mad love to CZJ. That took some serious balls, especially since she’s a celebrity!

  • Terrance H.

    Thanks for writing the post, Spinny.

    Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia when I was 16. We all knew something was wrong, but couldn’t figure out what it was. I started having pretty bizarre symptoms, like completely irrational thoughts, an inability to organize my speech properly, and extreme paranoia. The psychiatrist I was originally referred to was of no help – at all. He told me I was depressed and prescribed a medication that did absolutely nothing for me. Finally, I made an appointment with my family doctor and told him the psychiatrist he recommended wasn’t helping, so he referred me to a hospital three hours away for testing. There I learned I was schizophrenic. I take Abilify now and it seems to work pretty good.

    The biggest problem is all the misinformation. If I tell someone I’m schizophrenic, they automatically assume I’m some psychotic serial killer or something. Truth is, most people with Schizophrenia are rather amiable; they wouldn’t harm a fly.

    So I applaud any celebrity who admits their mental health issue to the public, because it obliges people to research and learn, rather than draw silly assumptions and hurt people.

    • Spinny Liberal

      Thanks for sharing that Terrance. Schizophrenia is definitely misunderstood. People think it’s like multiple personalities, but it’s not.

      Like with any illness, medication is so important. Thank God you found something that works. Keep taking it. The trouble starts when we stop taking our meds.

  • Beneath The Tin Foil Hat

    As you know from conversations on my blog, I’m Bi Polar as well. It took almost 40 years of misery and several doctors to figure that out. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I think it’s important for those of us who share this disorder to continue to communicate and share a sense of community.

    • Spinny Liberal

      Oh man – 40 years? I’m glad they finally figured out what it was. Absolutely it’s important. It tells others, especially those who have just been diagnosed, that they’re not alone. And getting the right meds for them might take a while, but it’s worth it in the end.

  • afrankangle

    Very well said about CZJ. Making her condition public is an example of her strength. Then your story hit me right between the eyes. Also brave, but powerful and real. Thanks for sharing & best wishes today and the days ahead.

    BTW: CJZ is drop-dead gorgeous. I can recall the first time I ever saw her … Zorro … I couldn’t take me eyes off of her.

    Just noticed you added me to your Spin Stops. Thanks … and I’ve added you to mine.

  • amillionblogs

    i read this on my bb while on our trip. thank you for sharing. i think you’re awesome.

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