Thursday, May 04, 2006

Jane Pauley's Struggles with bipolar Disorder

The Journal Inquirer from North Central CT, reports that TV personality Jane Pauley was a keynote speaker for the Foundation for Mental Health's luncheon, and spoke of her own struggles with BiPolar Disorder. Pauley says her bipolar disorder, diagnosed 5 years ago, was made worse by a combination of steroids and anti-depressants she was taking.

Pauley says it is important not to be afraid of the term "mental illness" and likened today's fear of the term with past generations fear of the word "cancer".

In her book, Out of the Blue, Pauley says she was diagnosed with "hypomania", which she discovered meant "mild" and not "big-time mania" as she had first thought. The mania never blossomed into full-blown grandiosity, but manifested itself in a constant stream of "ideas" and shopping. Her husband said she seemed to be trying to buy happiness.

Her depression, too, seemed to be fairly mild. Pauley says she never had "morbid thoughts" or severe depression. But her doctor and her family were wise enough to notice that she needed help.

Pauley readily admits that because of her VIP status, she was afforded some "perks", such as her own pajamas, that other residents of Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic were not. As frustrating as it is to realize that television personalities are often given health care opportunities that the rest of us are not, it is a good thing when "stars" such as Jane Pauley feel free enough to come out with the stories of their struggles with mental illness. Increased education and awareness can only help the rest of us.


Charley said...

Great entry, Dymphna. I posted on something like this only a few days ago.


4HisChurch said...

Really?! Wow. Great minds think alike! :)

mk said...

It is important to realise that rapid thoughts, hypomania and mild depression, even together can be withint he range of someone's normal personality and that this is different from true bipolar, which is even more than grandious thoughts. In true bipolar, these mood swings reach levels that make the person incapable of even taking care of themselves. The highs feel like your brain are exploding with millions of simultaneous thoughts, it is quite painful. The depression may render an adult in diapers for months until the right medication is found. Once the right combination of medicines are found, they are tweaked periodically- say anytime mild symptoms resurface for 3 days straight such as not sleeping for 3 days or suicidal thoughts for 3 days. I do not question that Jane Pauley has bonifide bipolar but it is important to realise that what pop psychology calls "bipolar" : shopaholics, those with "artistic personalities," and even those who have a wider mood range than normal and are mildly hypomanic or mildly depressed now and then can be within the range of normal or can be a mild personality disorder and not the biochemical disease of one of the several classifications of bipolar of which there are several. Personality disorders are environmental and very difficult to overcome and require years of therapy while bipolar disorders are physical disorders that can be managed wuite well with modern medications and education. The confusing thing is that those with true bipolar,wanting to shop alot or sleep alot or talk alot is a precurser to psychosis, paranoia, full blown mania (very painful and not merely rapid thinking). So many of us can and do benifit from therapy and counseling and have personality issues that can be imrpoved or examined but I want to stress that bipolar is more like diabetes in that you need your medication and if you dont get it your body will shut down one way or the other and like diabetes you can feel, measure and predict when it is starting to happen and take corrective medication. Those of us with addictions, emotional traumas and personality problems need lots of prayer and therapy. Those with bipolar are truely handicapped and have to avoid so many triggers that can set them off much like suger or obesity to a diabetic. My husband ran a support group for bipoar through Johns Hopkins and is active in NAMI (National Association fo the Mentally Ill). This post on Jane Pauly was great, I just wanted to clarify becuase the media prtrays bipolar as almost a personality deficit or flightiness and bipolar is a severe medical condition. I know of heavy drinkers and sexual "players" who use the crutch of bipolar to not feel responsible swhen it may be addictions and personality issues in which case treatment would be very different.

4HisChurch said...

I do wonder if she is on meds now, and, if not, whether she really did have full blown bipolar disorder or merely a temporary reaction to the meds she apparently had taken.

No mental illness is a personality "deficit" in any way.

Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

my poetry on the web

Karumi Garden

Karumi Garden
my haiku