Social Mania

His bipolar episodes were unpredictable in every way, except for how predictably they manifested on Facebook.

Comments: 134

  1. Love this candid and caring portrait of a complicated but beautiful sibling relationship. Wonderful!

  2. @Veronica I'm Liz, the author. Thanks for your comment. I consider myself lucky to have Roland as a brother.

  3. @Veronica I'm Liz, the author. Thanks for your comment. I am lucky to have Roland as a brother.

  4. "a top-tier M.D./M.B.A. program." Encapsulates what's wrong with the U.S. health care system...

  5. @Midwesterner I'm Liz, the author. Thanks for raising an important point. And you're right. Roland and I agree with you. More than can be expressed in a comment box, or even a few paragraphs in an essay. Roland has a lot more to say on this topic; conversation to be continued. We appreciate your comment.

  6. This is an exceedingly unkind response to an extraordinarily vulnerable and thoughtful reflection on the pain of living with this disorder as a family.

  7. Physicians shouldn’t have mental health disorders? Many mental health disorders, even quite serious ones, are successfully treated. Who will provide compassionate care for patients? Who will make policy decisions? Is it better for a psychiatrist, or a gynecologist, to have a successfully treated mental health problem themself, or for us as a society to decide that we’ll have no doctors who’ve had such experiences? People with mental health disorders should be tossed out of medical schools when they become ill? I hate to say it, but medical training is stressful, and we have a shortage of physicians. We can’t afford to cut the 1 in 5 adults (according to the NAMI website) who have some kind of mental illness.

  8. Thank you for sharing. I saw echoes and recognized pieces from my own life with my sister who is bipolar. Those phone calls used to fill me with pain and dread. These days she’s better and on her meds. I cherish our relationships and pray those dark days are behind us. But I remember how isolated our family felt. This definitely struck a chord.

  9. Liz, I can't wait to read the book you and your brother Roland are writing. Demystifying mental illness is such an important goal, for those who experience it and those who love the people who do. I'm equally looking forward to reading about your relationship, given the bit of it you've provided here. Best to Roland, and your family, and you, and thanks for such a resonant essay.

  10. I’m exhausted just from reading this. You are both extremely lucky, to have one another. Best wishes.

  11. @Phyliss Dalmatian I also. I've read books by parents raising LD/Autistic children : Raising Blaze, Son Rise. My feeling 'different', i discovered 40 years ago was due to an incident when i was 12. It appears psy education is incomplete leading the social workers and cops to interpret and judge at will even decades into a normal life. Somehow their judgement always means a 'new start' with all current assets acquired by the judges. My home, husband, children, grandchildren, all removed as if a magic wand was waved and another family moved into our life and myself banished to non-existence. They tried to create a false me, they wanted violence, drinking, sarcasm demonstrating low IQ of 85-95, but her I am, still me. Marginalized, isolated and so very lonely. I do not think my selection unusual, i think this happens in every town to people who have a usable incident that can be bent whatever way the social workers and cops want it to go, and have no power to protect their assets.

  12. Liz and Roland, I look forward to reading your book. Like Roland, I had months-long bouts of mania that manifested wildly on Facebook. I’m now in a well state (via medication and good habits) for many years, but you never know. I fear for destabilizing times, such as travel or death of a loved one, although I have learned to manage these things so far. Your article was terrific, both loving and raw. I send my best to both of you and thank you for your honesty and your commitment to each other. Bipolar disorder is a devastating illness, piled thick with stigma. Any sign of compassion and real understanding is medicine indeed. Be well, friends.

  13. Bravo. For your love for each other. For your candor. Looking forward to reading your book. You are lucky to have each other!

  14. Thank you for your voice , for your brother’s generosity of spirit to work with you on this project , and I will be waiting anxiously for the book.

  15. I'm surprised and disappointed that the author doesn't use person-first language when discussing mental health diagnoses. For example, as you know, a person is not "bipolar" or "schizophrenic". Rather, a person has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or suffers from schizophrenia. Illness is not identity, it does not define a person. It is simply a part of the complex array of what comprises them.

  16. @Shannon Not everyone, particularly not everyone with a disability, likes or supports person first language.

  17. Some illnesses do, unfortunately, take over and define people. I hope your irritation is not the only feeling you took away from this story.

  18. So many loving families circle the wagons to protect a member with a mental illness. I look forward to this book which will offer insight into just how helpful such protectiveness really is to the sick individual. Should we shine a klieg light on the family member's struggle instead? Not wait for his/her own social media postings? How can a family best help?

  19. Thank you in advance, Liz and Roland for embarking on this journey and writing this book together. I have forwarded this essay to so many friends and family members today, everyone cannot wait for your book to be published. Bravo and thank you

  20. Thank you for writing this. How very brave if you both. You are not alone.

  21. Thank you sharing some of your family’s experience with serious mental illness. Breaking the silence and ending the stigma that stubbornly persist on this topic are so important to better treatment, research and availability of services in communities all over our country. You and your family might benefit from connecting to NAMI, its family and peer support programs, and its public speaking/advocacy efforts. Your story will boost other families, too. Best wishes to you and Roland on your book!

  22. I felt so seen reading this, especially the part where I fear the call finding out my brother is dead. I wish I knew how to help my brother, or get less frustrated with him (and his Facebook posts). I look forward to your book!

  23. As a 70 yr old person diagnosed as bipolar, and carrying a lifelong (since 2 yrs. old) PTSD defining background experience, I have no idea who I truly am. Between suicidal depressive episodes and manic energetic acting out, I am all over the map emotionally, intellectually and relationally. Consequently I am also alone. Meds keep me on a somewhat stable track most of the time, but I often wonder "who am I without the meds?", who lives inside the core of me?

  24. @Leslie Hi Leslie, I'm about your age, and have endured PTSD's terrors and flashbacks and depression since childhood. One thing I've learned is that I am what my five senses convey to me in the here-and-now. I am solidly in the midst of what I am touching right this minute (a laptop, my desk, my clothes, especially a tight watch band); what I see (the screen, my hands, some grass and a house through the window beyond it); what I hear (rather loud typing thanks to new hearing aids, the car purring); what I taste (not much--maybe time for a sip of water); and what I smell (yeast bread rising). That is me this instant. It will change in large or small ways as minutes and days go by, but it is always my core. Focusing on the here-and-now centers me. Perhaps it can center you, as well. <3

  25. @Katrin Thank you.

  26. @Katrin I agree that the medications stabilize people and don't change one's core self. But the insulin comparison is not accurate. None of the medications replace anything remotely like insulin which is a measurable chemical necessary for life. The insulin comparison was propagated by pharmaceutical companies who don't even really know the mechanism of their drugs.

  27. I know the feeling. My sister is bipolar and for the past 20 years our family has strugled with accepting it. As her condition progressed and her life unraveled I fretted that one day we will find she had gone missing or worst. She is now in a very frail condition, living on a home for the elderly. But throughout all this there has been an unmovable fact: our mutual love. That love has helped us care for her no matter how difficult it may have been. That feeling is what I see here.

  28. I have sympathy for the writer, but I have to admit it brings me concern that Roland isn't given the opportunity to speak for himself. Whenever I read articles about neurodiverse people, they are almost always written by a relative, a self-nominated spokesperson for the person under the microscope. This is not to say that relatives and friends do not need to talk - they absolutely do, because the nature of mental illness is that it affects the people around us too. As a person with bipolar disorder, I feel articles like these should be written - but not without us doing some of the talking. We are misunderstood, marginalized, and hurting, but first and foremost, we are people. Our stories should be ours, too.

  29. Neurodiverse? Will the PC divisions never cease? How bizarre your word choice is. Her brother is “mentally ill”, possibly dangerous to himself or others.

  30. How lovely That they are writing a memoir together. I wish the best for both of them.

  31. Thank you for writing this. I want my relatives to read this, too.

  32. Bravo Roland on all your achievements . I wish you continued success in fighting your daily battle- I say this as a person who is dealing with a very close family member that is suffering this same disease.

  33. I'm glad Roland has a caring family to help take care of him. My wife and I are currently being terrorized by someone we barely know who has bipolar disorder. This man is stalking us, determined that he is in love with my wife. We are in the process of taking out a restraining order against him. Bipolar disorder is scary when a stranger decides to insert themself into your life. Victims of mentally ill manic people suffer because this country doesn't do enough to treat the mentally ill. Sometimes they really do need to be institutionalized until they are stable.

  34. @Kay I'm not sure if you mean to perpetuate stigma or stereotypes, but if you changed your story to say: My wife and I are currently being terrorized by someone we barely know who is (Insert race), it sounds pretty awful doesn't it? I know someone with diabetes who is a jerk. That doesn't mean all people with diabetes are jerks. But your comment could be misconstrued that way. I don't envy you your situation. But mentally ill people are more likely to be victims of crimes than perpetrators, if you look at the stats.

  35. @ChiMom If you're not being terrorized, easy for you to say. @Kay is recounting their experience.

  36. @ChiMom I think it's pretty clear that the problem is how the bipolar disorder causes that person to terrorize these folks. That's extremely different from race, as you surely know. Race is a silly classification based on things like skin color or national origin. Severe psychiatric illness is--an illness. When I was a little girl, my mother stalked our next-door neighbor, staring at him and his wife over the fence and phoning to demand that he "finally" make good on his supposed agreement to get a divorce and marry her. The poor man finally made the fence two feet higher. My mother hired a lawyer who cited local rules and made him shorten it. The guy hired his own lawyer and rebuilt it, this time with plastic instead of cement, and it stayed. My mother was psychotic. Not everyone who is psychotic stalks people, for sure. But when their illness is not under medical control, they are massively difficult to deal with. Stating that does not "perpetuate stigma."

  37. I come from a family with severe mood disorders. My older sister's disorder destroyed our family because of my parents denial which was rooted in their deep shame. I remember them taking her to the doctor but never getting any real help. My parents focused on her intelligence, she was an honor student through and through. She was accepted into an Ivy League for graduate school but couldn't go because of the disorder. In the end their inability to accept let alone acknowledge her illness destroyed them and left our family forever estranged. Thank you for your honesty. Mental illness is often misunderstood and goes undiagnosed far too often with heartbreaking consequences.

  38. Such a common result in families with a loved one with bipolar disorder. Unfortunately it is that way in my family.

  39. @Cascadia If I would talk about my own family situation it would sound like what you wrote here. I stopped trying to be open about the dysfunction of my own family because of all the deaf ears.

  40. @Cascadia your post describes a heartbreakingly familiar situation. In my family the problem was with the grandparents. Both sets refused to accept that my brother was autistic and that it was nobody's fault. Then, when I was depressed my parents refused to allow me to get treatment. I was kicked out of SUNY-Binghamton for being suicidal and cutting myself. That was 42 years ago and I'm still ashamed of myself for it. And again, my parents refused to let me get the help I needed. (They didn't want to look at how they might have contributed to the problem with their abusive actions towards me or the fact that depression does run in the family.) Even now my mother still thinks that I shouldn't take the medication that keeps me from being too deeply depressed. It's a matter of willpower in her eyes.

  41. Interesting piece. You both sound amazing. However, there were a few things which intrigued me. 1. I note that Roland has trained to be a psychiatrist. I was wondering what insights from being diagnosed with bipolar himself might be useful in his work with others. 2. You note that Roland has been involuntarily treated in hospital. I was wondering how he and you felt about that? Do you/he see it as necessary and beneficial or as an unjustified deprivation of liberty? 3. While you are thankful to Facebook in helping you to monitor Roland’s wellbeing and for getting social support, are you not concerned about the disclosure and use of such private health information to persons you may not know and for purposes that may be unfavourable to Roland? In fact, it may be possible to accurately diagnose a person with a mental illness from their online use even before the person has been diagnosed themselves.

  42. @Kay Need to mention that it is both difficult and necessary to commit someone involuntarily. Though there may be insufficient safeguards, our state's laws (MN) require a judge to verify that someone is a danger to themselves or others before they are involuntarily committed. My brother was involuntarily committed 3 times, with me as the signer. The 4th and 5th time, he committed himself. Our family was at his side throughout. Not always easy, but we chose that route. Please send warm feelings of support to staff at mental health hospitals and nursing homes. Truly a difficult calling.

  43. Thank you for your honesty. I work on the issue of stereotypes and the damage they do. Obviously many of the stigmas attached/around/involving those with mental health challenges involve stereotypical tropes, the thinking and attitudes they harmfully perpetuate. We can and must address these issues as human lives are at stake. Over the years I have found the process of change involves honesty, compassion, persistence and courage. Our schools and educational systems are the places change can begin, continue and grow. Your own story will be part of the process. I am looking forward to your book very much.

  44. This is a very enlightening account, especially coming from the high achieving side. Bipolar appears to be particularly case-by-case, existing on a spectrum—some completely debilitated, others achieving extraordinary accomplishments. The mystery intensifies with the fact that singularly creative figures throughout history (such as Van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, etc) have exhibited patterns of Bipolar, followed by tragic endings. With unprecedented knowledge on the mechanisms behind Bipolar, perhaps there is a way to harness its capabilities, and eventually, with medical advancements, reduce its negative effects entirely.

  45. Great account. Thanks for your honesty. It helps other people to know they are dealing with the same issues.

  46. As someone who has bipolar, I really appreciate the honesty and positivity in this story, as well as family perspective. It's nice to hear about Roland, who seems to be getting better, getting the help and support he needs, and overall, doing well, despite struggles. Love hearing about his family support! People with bipolar can do so well with the right medication, help, and family and friends standing behind them. Without my family support, I would not be where I am today, healthy, happy and doing great things, too. Roland and Liz, best of luck with your memoir. You both sound like wonderful people. Great sister and brother! This story meant a lot to me.

  47. It's good that the curtain is being lifted on mental illness, especially how common it is and how possible it is to live reasonably well with it. For those who are seeking help, NAMI (Nat'l Alliance on Mental Illness) is a good resource.

  48. Thanks for your honesty. For me this was hard to read. I have several relatives with bipolar disorder, including my younger brother who I have supported (sometimes financially) for decades. I have been a NAMI member for decades too and that has helped me cope. But right now my brother is unmedicated and manic once again, it must be his 14th or 15th episode. I can only see this as choosing to be manic (his episodes can last an entire year). I am so weary and discouraged but I am headed to the woods for a week to heal my soul.

  49. Gosh. Imagine how exhausted your brother who lives with bipolar disorder and is NOT a walking piece of pathology must be. You’re tired? Poor you. Try spending an entire life being labeled, misdiagnosed, over or under medicated and all the while just trying to LIVE with a serious mental illness that is poorly understood by too many clinicians and family members like you. Undermining our struggle, stigmatizing us does not help the one suffering or the one complaining.

  50. As a licensed clinical psychologist and sister of an older brother with severe OCD and depression, it was a breath of fresh air to read this candid and eye opening account of what it is like to be the sibling or family member of someone who is incredibly gifted and also suffers from mental illness. I am not a big fan of social media even though I am considered an "Elder Millenial". I find it to be one very loud game of Show N' Tell that feeds on our grotesque need for others to validate our experiences. This article however made me realize that a platform like social media does often help to connect people in ways that were not possible before. Social media has without a doubt allowed people with mental illness and their families to find others with similar experiences and help support and keep an eye on family members that live far away...potentially saving lives. Thank you to the author for standing by your sibling which is unusual and having the courage to share this story. Thank you Roland for your transparency and effort to help other people with bipolar disorder know that life with this diagnosis has value and goals are still achievable regardless of societal labels.

  51. Liz, you beautifully describe how the symptoms of bipolar disorder can express themselves through a person's social media posts! My 23 year old son has struggled on and off with Bipolar Disorder since the age of 9 and I have become keenly aware of subtle and nuanced changes in his attitudes or behaviors that might indicate the onset of mania or depression. I have often been grateful for Facebook, Instagram, and even Snapchat for this very reason. Since you are writing a book and clearly are interested in increasing understanding and awareness, I might suggest you reconsider some of the language you are using about people who struggle with mental health disorders. For instance, a person isn't bipolar - they HAVE bipolar disorder. You wouldn't say that a person IS cancer or diabetes; you would say a person HAS cancer or diabetes. It may seem insignificant, but if we want to decrease stigma and increase empathy and understanding, we need to teach people the having a mental health disorder doesn't necessarily define who a person is. Calling a person "schizophrenic" makes the word an adjective and contributes to misunderstanding. You are an excellent writer, so I am sure you understand the power of language! It is well established that, with proper treatment, people who live with mental health conditions can and do live healthy, productive lives. Why define a person by a diagnosis? Randi Silverman Founder/Executive Director The Youth Mental Health Project

  52. @Randi S. I have diabetes, therefore I am a diabetic.

  53. Thank you for sharing your story. I very much appreciate your honesty as well as your message of hope and optimism. With love, faith and hope as well as sound advice and good clinical/medical guidance, I believe we can get through anything. Raising awareness and talking openly about mental illness is so important and needed. I look forward to reading your book.

  54. I have many friends who live with BP2 and I can always tell via Facebook when they're spiraling and when they're dark. I'm waiting for a grad or PHD candidate to research how social media can be useful as a diagnostic tool for some disorders. Also, has anyone brought up schizoaffective disorder to you guys? If his mania is super long like you described there might be other comorbids at play. Thanks for this story, looking forward to your book.

  55. @Jamie Lardner We asked my son's psychiatrist if his BP could actually be schizoaffective disorder. She said that's entirely possible, but the label doesn't really matter because finding the correct treatment involves the same process and drug treatment options. And any label with "schizo" in it creates greater prejudice and fear for the person who bears it, both in themselves and in the outside world/others they have to coexist with.

  56. There are many mental disorders which cause mania. Mania is a manifestation of psychosis. "Bipolar" is really a garbage descriptor. I wish this particular diagnostic label was no longer in use as it is meaningless. The only treatment for psychosis is an antipsychotic. For life. The medication suppresses intrusive thoughts and disorganized thinking.

  57. I was really glad to read this article. I’m very curious to learn more about how Roland survived school “against all odds.” Did he get accommodations and time off? I read a slew of articles about how many Ivy League schools (Yale getting an “F”) are getting poor grades in mental health care and policies. When I attended Yale I tried to assist friends with mental illness episodes. They were often terrified of being found out, and understandably so. One close friend took a semester off to deal with OCD and depression, but he was already used to managing with it for about a decade or so and could recognize when he needed time off. When he opened up to a professor about it the professor had nothing to say in return. Another friend simply chugged on in secret with a cutting habit and suicidal thoughts, although i finally convinced him to see a therapist in which he got some medication that left him out of sorts. I checked on him constantly afraid he might kill him self and over time became overwhelmed. I felt I did not know how to help him, and felt ill equip in the situation , and have felt rather guilty since. He seemed to eventually want to be left alone and wanted to keep everything a secret especially from our peers, and I respected his wishes. The prospect of getting kicked out of university is real for having mental illness, and quite frankly I knew if that happened to him it would have sent him over the edge. I want to say more but ran out of text space

  58. @E Make another post if you want to say more, or reply to my post.

  59. My sister suffers with almost exactly the same behavioural problems. Can't get the right help. This is going to sound terrible but I cut off all contact with her as she wouldn't actually seek out the help she needed either and she destroyed my family relations with lies and hideous behaviour. I have two small children that I just wouldn't let anywhere near her. When it came down to it, that's the choice I had to made. Living with someone who is like this is beyond exhausting and can render your life unlivable.

  60. @Dan I feel your pain. I have a family member who was the golden child, so nothing could be wrong with him -- until it was too late to help him. When our mother is gone, so too will be his parachute. I left any feeling of responsibility toward him behind me long ago.

  61. @Dan This is the ultimate lesson that mentally ill people often learn despite all the encouragement to "seek help." Keep it to yourself. Suffer in silence. Only other mentally ill people get it. Most, like Dan, will turn their backs on you eventually if you don't keep it under wraps. Very sad.

  62. Me too. I cut off all communication with my sister who has bi-polar disorder. Thankfully she lives far away so I only cross paths with her about once a year. The lies she has told, the stealing, the character assassination are all more than I choose to deal with anymore. And I do believe in a genetic component to mental illnesses. My family, including myself, is full of alcoholics, schizophrenics, narcissists and the depressed. Not one of us has escaped these illnesses.

  63. Thank you for sharing your experience of your brother’s experience of mania and depression. However, I request you drop perpetuating the myth of mental health issues as chemical imbalances, which have been debunked though make a great sound bite. Joy, anger, love, in love are all chemical reactions that allow us to “feel” these, and depression, anxiety, etc. are no different. It is what we make those chemical reactions mean about us or our lives, however, that life works or doesn’t work for us. Sounds like your brother has found a way to have life work for him, in spite of, and because of his experience of extreme states. I look forward to your book together.

  64. @SomethingElse : sounds like you're perpetuating R.D. Laing's nonsense. Does the author's brother sound like a happy, productive person with meaningful relationships?

  65. I AM not bipolar; I am a person with bipolar disorder. "Person-first" language is the accepted style when referring to psychiatric disorders and using the condition as a noun is dehumanizing. I am not the same as my disease.

  66. @JBecker Absolutely correct! Disorders that have potential to disturb other people as well as the sufferer tend to get this treatment: he is bipolar, she is schizophrenic. But we don't say he is depression or she is anxiety. Interesting....

  67. @JBecker Thank you so much for explaining that. You’ve made it very clear. The whole idea of what a person is is very interesting, considering person first.

  68. @JBecker And where does linguistic sensitivity get you? Must a diabetic be called a person with a diabetic disorder (or, better, an insulin- resistant disorder)?

  69. Great article! Thank you for speaking out and sharing your experience. I’m curious where the information about how long an average episode lasts as I thought the average manic or depressive episode lasts around three months. I’m always happy to hear more people talk openly about struggles with mental illness. I think it makes it that little bit easier for those who suffer.

  70. The memoir "Birth of a New Brain—Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder"endorsed by Kay Redfield Jamison and twenty other mental health luminaries (i.e. bestselling authors Mark Lukach and Matt Samet) depicts a form of bipolar disorder that warrants recognition in world-class papers such as this one. I look forward to reading a New York Times article or essay about this mental illness that Dr. Jamison states as one "that happens more often than is generally recognized."

  71. I am surprised that Roland was not offered lithium therapy. If he had been, he would be bipolar in name only.

  72. @A Nash Only if he chose to take his lithium. Such is the problem with bipolar disorder.

  73. @A Nash And his kidneys would more than likely fail after a couple of decades. Or do you not know anything about the risks?

  74. @A Nash. As the caretaker sister of my bipolar brother, I can vouch for Lithium's effectiveness. My now deceased brother's success in creating a business, maintaining a long wonderful relationship was because he CONSISTENTLY took Lithium and other meds.But yes, after about 11 years, his liver was shot. The move to other drugs caused deep depression.

  75. I have (often) a positive view of my Bipolar 2 "situation." I believe I live life more fully than others because when I'm happy I'm happier than others can be, and when I'm sad I'm sadder than others can be. I spent many years as an in-patient psychiatric nurse, and believe that because of my, as yet undiscovered "situation" I was capable of an empathy others l could not offer. Um...does this sound grandiose?

  76. @Anne Not grandiose, just wonderfully well-adapted to your life. Empathy and hope are our mantra. My brother was bipolar; the wisdom I gained is priceless. Though we don't feel it ever day, we'very been blessed.

  77. Some mental illnesses are harder to treat than others. And some people find it hard to deal with needing to take medications, their side effects, and the fact that they have an illness. I knew a few insulin dependent diabetics when I was in college. One was not willing to accept the necessities of her disease and wound up in the ER a few times for not eating correctly and having ketoacidosis as a result. She missed a lot of classes too. Another person had brittle diabetes. She was very careful. Her biggest problems came about whenever she was ill. Mental illness is a difficult problem for all concerned. It affects the mind and one's personality. People say things when they are in the midst of psychosis or mania that they might not say. They may feel invulnerable. So do families. I've watched how families deal with it and I feel for them. There is no easy way to acknowledge that a family member has a severe mental illness. I have an autistic brother. He's not mentally ill. He is disabled even though he's extremely bright. And his disability is obvious. But what makes it worse is society's attitude. I think that we need to look at better ways to preserve a person's dignity and protect them from the worst part of their illness. One way would be to offer alternatives to jail or homelessness. Another would be to provide more well supervised living situations.

  78. This is a beautiful love story, between two siblings. I wish both of you peace and health in the future. Thank you for sharing so eloquently.

  79. My older sister is bipolar. We rarely discuss it. She takes her meds but as anyone with experience knows, they only tone it down. It's always around. At this point in our lives, I'm her only immediate living relative. She lives on the other side of the country. I haven't seen her in 20 years but we talk on the telephone every so often. My mother's parting shot was, "Please take care of her when I'm gone." That wasn't news as I'd been doing that for most of my life. Nevertheless, it's a burden for two reasons. I worry when things are going badly but also when things are going well. I am always waiting for the next call for money. Even though I think she's the most self-centered person I know (a symptom), I am extremely proud of her. She works full time, lives on her own, sometimes with non-paying roommates and is a very talented artist, writer and poet. Yet, I'm either the most loving sister in the world or Cruella D'ville. I've learned not to take most of it personally so I ride this roller coaster knowing I'll never get off.

  80. With more studies of the brain, scientists will hopefully discover more medical treatments for those with bipolar disease that do not cause severe side affects which keep people from taking their medication.

  81. Kudos for writing this. I would point out however that this young man seems to be very accomplished in many ways, and his illness does not and should not define him. He 'is' not bipolar, he has a bipolar affective disorder.

  82. @InMN It is all well and good to try to maintain the distinction between "being" bipolar and "having" bipolar affective disorder; but for those of us who are closely related to such a person, it often seems that the disorder has swallowed the person we know and love. Saying they "are" bipolar is an accurate reflection of our experience, which should not be trivialized any more than that of the person who "has" bipolar disorder.

  83. Ms. Eavey you are a great blessing to your brother. My uncle was bipolar, severely, before his suicide just over a year ago. His illness had led to such addiction and violence I eventually cut myself off from him, or he did from me: to be truly honest everything became a blur toward the end. He was a great mentor to me as a child, particularly about academics, poetry, and music, and we had a resonance that turned out to be not such a happy one for me. I, too, am bipolar, as was, I am now sure, my grandmother (his mother); profound depression and narcissism run like fire throughout my family. Although my symptoms are more controllable than your brother's, I revel in sleepless highs and my lows, especially as a single mother to three, can get dangerous. I wonder in your book if you will explore the myterious familial connection of mental anguish. I firmly believe, watching with a hawk's eye my own children's moods, that there is some biological pathway that leads one down these hopeless roads. I also believe there is a profoundly influential family ecosystem that even without cellular similarity makes one vulnerable to the same chinks in the armor one's parents possess. My husband left me because of my darkness. I am still grieving and blaming myself, and the guilt I feel over what this has done to my children will never fade. It is a beautiful and difficult choice to stick around; I couldn't for my uncle and my husband couldn't for me. Your brother is a loved man.

  84. @Rachel you are a beautiful writer and I thank you for sharing your story and journey with us. Stick around please. Suicide is very difficult to deal with. My family knows and understands. The "what more could I have done" and second guessing is hard. And that is me, the ex wife. The sons...its hard.

  85. @Rachel. I think we grow up believing these behaviours to be normal. I think they are imprinted upon us and can be so subtle that it is difficult to be aware that we are even doing it. Long time ago, I was cleaning and working myself up into a rage/frenzy; I suddenly realized what I was doing and stopped cleaning, trying to figure it out. My mother, who suffers from untreated mental illness, used to clean house that way! I realized that I had simply imprinted the activity with the emotion because this is what I had learned, watched, experienced. If you struggle every day with it, unravel it, reconfigure activities and emotion; you forge a path for the next generation. They learn from you learning and slowly but surely the mental illness unravels from your DNA and falls to the floor. I did find Kundalini Yoga to be extremely helpful. But good luck and remember it is a steep mountain path with a lot people behind you and in front of you and we all wish success!

  86. My mother was bi-polar and oldest sister is bi-polar. To this day it is THE family secret. Neither of them would acknowledge the problem or seek treatment. The rest of the family, through shame, ignorance or fear simply refuses to discuss the matter. When I was 19 I left home in the middle of the night never to return just to get away from the madness. I hope this article will encourage people to acknowledge this disorder and get help. To ignore it often has tragic results for so many people.

  87. Thank you for your bravery in sharing your family's story. Bipolarity and schizophrenia have taken a heavy toll in my family over the years; I wish I'd been as effective, as proactive in dealing with its many challenges as you and your brilliant brother. Good on you both.

  88. @Jackson You said it well. I share your regrets as my brother took his own life followed in the years that followed by two other family members. Mental illness can indeed be a terminal illness.

  89. Thank you so much for this. As you noted, so many people, myself included, have mental illness in their immediate families. I'm so happy to hear the Roland is well and thriving. It's especially heartbreaking that these devastating illnesses so often seem to strike the brightest and most accomplished people. I guess there's a reason for the saying, "Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make promising".

  90. Thank you for sharing your story. We do need to talk about mental illness more. This stigma needs to end. The morning after my former husband shot himself and died, my son took his dogs to walk in the park. His Dad spent hours and years walking his 2 dogs in this park, often they walked them together. Many happy memories for my son. They adopted both dogs together. Dad's only note was for the authorities to call his son to come get the dogs. My son told everyone, when asked, why he was walking them instead if his Dad "my Dad isnt walking them because he killed himself yesterday." At first I cringed then I said no, this is the truth and it is obvious my son needs this. I have learned from my son how to just say it. May your brother be as well as he can be. You too.

  91. I have a neighbor - a lovely man who works in the mental health field - who will periodically post and share waves of highly emotional stories and memes about the sorry state of the world. I assume he is bipolar or suffers some kind of cyclical despair. I have never discussed this with him, his wife or any other neighbors. If it bugs me I just mute him for 30 days.

  92. It's been misdiagnosed a lot. But for those who've never encountered the real thing, this is a good piece since it describes Roland very well. This is bipolar disorder. What's a bit uncanny is that so many of bipolar people are tremendously capable and can be very high achievers. Roland certainly fits that too. But they can also engage in harmful behavior to themselves and to others which makes their lives rocky. Getting the best help possible becomes crucial so that when they are well, which is most of the time, they can continue to contribute their talents.

  93. With a father and sister who both had/have bipolar disorder, I find it refreshing to see an article written by a sibling. My silenced voice feels less about stigma and more about trying to respect the privacy of another's medical diagnosis; is it my choice to publicly share the disorder of another? And then is it still protected when the individual refuses the help and medication (yes, a symptom of the illness) needed to manage the symtoms? It always felt so infuriating to be the one to clean up the mess after the mania, and holding her together through the ever-dependable depression when the decision to accept treatment is not within my control- and repeat, repeat, repeat. I would not wish this illness on anyone and my frustration with the situation pales in comparison to my sister's frustration of having it- but does that mean that only her voice can be heard? I sit with this question. Clearly the author is writing with her sibling (I can only imagine that there must be healing in that experience) but without that joined commitment, ,

  94. With a father and sister who both had/have bipolar disorder, I find it refreshing to see an article written by a sibling. My silenced voice feels less about stigma and more about trying to respect the privacy of another's medical diagnosis; is it my choice to publicly share the disorder of another? And then is it still protected when the individual refuses the help and medication (yes, a symptom of the illness) needed to manage the symtoms? It always felt so infuriating to be the one to clean up the mess after the mania, and holding her together through the ever-dependable depression when the decision to accept treatment is not within my control- and repeat, repeat, repeat. I would not wish this illness on anyone and my frustration with the situation pales in comparison to my sister's frustration of having it- but does that mean that only her voice can be heard? I sit with this question. Clearly the author is writing with her sibling (I can only imagine that there must be healing in that experience) but without that joined commitment, ,

  95. With a father and sister who both had/have bipolar disorder, I find it refreshing to see an article written by a sibling. My silenced voice feels less about stigma and more about trying to respect the privacy of another's medical diagnosis; is it my choice to publicly share the disorder of another? And then is it still protected when the individual refuses the help and medication (yes, a symptom of the illness) needed to manage the symtoms? It always felt so infuriating to be the one to clean up the mess after the mania, and holding her together through the ever-dependable depression when the decision to accept treatment is not within my control- and repeat, repeat, repeat. I would not wish this illness on anyone and my frustration with the situation pales in comparison to my sister's frustration of having it- but does that mean that only her voice can be heard? I sit with this question. Clearly the author is writing with her sibling (I can only imagine that there must be healing in that experience) but without that joined commitment, I wonder how it would affect an already tenuous relationship and if the healing it would bring would outweigh the costs. Thank you for inspiring the conversation.

  96. I used to think that while growing up my lovey daughter would have 6 good months and then 6 bad months and it would just cycle.... in college she was diagnosed bipolar. In her late 20's she said she came to the conclusion she would be on her meds forever. She is much older now and has spent years learning how to be well, but I worry every day about her. Thank you for sharing your brothers story. It is so brave of you (and him). Being open about this will help others understand and accept treatment.

  97. Kay Redfield Jamison's memoir "An Unquiet Mind" provides great and honest insight into what it is like to live as someone with Bipolar I disorder, in both medicated and un-medicated conditions, and the disorder's effect on those around her. Similarly, her "Touched by Fire" is also a fascinating study of the notable incidence of Bipolar Disorder in highly creative and accomplished people

  98. I work for a brilliant and lovable man who has bipolar disorder. He has achieved the highest levels in his profession and is very much loved. He is brilliant enough to recognize that he needs his medications to function normally and logically. Unfortunately, several of his children have the disorder, as well, and have failed to understand the need for their medications to remain level. Obviously, this is an inherited disorder as others in his family also had the disorder but with minimal manifestation. The experience the author has had with her brother is similar to the experience we’ve had with my boss’ children, unfortunately. It can be very stressful and scary when they are not level and can be difficult to help them. An interesting fact is that many high achievers have this disorder and it can be a blessing for them as it can provide out of the box thinking that can bring them success and recognition. My prayer is that we may continue to find more effective solutions to help those with bipolar disorder with less side effects so that it is easier for patients to comply with treatment. Very glad to see that the writer’s brother is seemingly level for now and hope that he remains that way. Once you have a treatment that works, it is best to just keep it...

  99. Bipolar disorder can spiral out of control and cause great harm to the patient, the family and bystanders. One thing to remember: sleep deprivation can trigger a manic episode even if the patient is on medication. And physical illness can cause sleep deprivation. Two examples are musculoskeletal pain and prostate enlargement. Lithium can cause urinary frequency and thus interfere with sleep. So you can always ask your friend/relative how he/she is sleeping. Treating the cause of sleep deprivation can help a lot.

  100. I hope the book will address the impact of mental illness on the siblings who don’t have the illness. As the long suffering older sibling to a bulimic, bipolar alcoholic, I can’t begin to describe the inner rage I feel toward my sibling. I have literally lost my connection to my wonderful parents, who are so focused on helping/enabling my sibling that they cannot focus on a conversation with me for more than five minutes. I love and miss my parents so much, it’s almost an ache. The dance of codependency always leaves someone out in the cold and, in my family, it is me. I know my sibling is sick. I get it, I do. But sometimes I just want my parents to have enough energy left to care about me too.

  101. That's very honest and I appreciate you posting your point-of-view. Have you spoken to your parents about this? I hope everything works out for you and your family!

  102. Fortunately, we have not yet reached the state where bizarre or paranoid beliefs are sufficient for a diagnosis of mental illness. That diagnosis can only be done by a licensed professional who (hopefully) follows a rigorous medial protocol, and is accountable to a State license board. I am reminded of a quote by C.G. Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist who specialized in Schizophrenia. He published the following quote in the same year that the Flat Earth Society was formed in 1956: "In schizophrenia, on the other hand, reality has all but disappeared. I must thank my erstwhile pupil J. Honegger, whose work was unfortunately cut short by an early death, for a simple illustration of this: A paranoid patient of good intelligence, who know very well that the earth was a sphere and rotated round the sun, superseded all our modern views of astronomy by an elaborate system of his own devising, where the earth was a flat disc over which the sun traveled.” (¶ 200, CW 5) The world is full of perfectly sane individuals who genuinely believe in the living presence of Pleadians (aliens), Reptilians, Qanon, and the Pentecostal brand of the Holy Ghost. Fortunately, their right to believe in these things is guaranteed under the 1st Amendment. Cite: Jung, C.G. Symbols of Transformation: An Analysis of the Prelude to a Case of Schizophrenia. Collected Works Vol. 5. Pantheon Books, 1956.

  103. Apparently 80%of people in mental hospitals have been sexually abused. Sexual abuse happened to me and I know what the lifetime mental effects are. Don't just brush aside your brothers claim that he was abused. It is highly likely that it is true.

  104. @Robin thank you. yes.

  105. How exhausting. I know your brother is ill but he is also extremely selfish, letting his family pick up the pieces over and over again.

  106. Wonderful illustration.

  107. No offense to Roland, but I would not want him to be either my GP or my psychiatrist... in my opinion, these are not positions for someone with partly or marginally controlled mental illness.

  108. I would recommend the writer and her brother (and anyone else who suffers or knows someone with mental illness) contact NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a self help support group.

  109. Powerful. It goes a long way to reduce the stigma of mental illness; still much more is needed. I suspect the family's steadfastness is the reason he is alive today. I am a psychiatrist in the prison setting. Today, I saw a bipolar patient acutely sick with NO supports in the community. Lives in the woods. Shoplifts to eat (thereby his recent arrest). A throwaway of society.

  110. My best friend's daughter is 26 and diagnosed bipolar 18 months ago. She was an inpatient and stabilized just as my friend was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. My friend is receiving chemo for past 10 months and her daughter is stable but can be noncompliant. I am very close with my friend and we have discussed what will happen after my bff passes. She is hoping i will be able to help her. I have promised to do all that I can along with the father but im avery anxious about it all. I was a nurse for 35 yrs but psych was not my strong point but i have learned so much these past months. I needed to write this out for others to see that there are many people out here in different types of circumstances. May everyone get the help they need and God bless us all. Mental illness is such a sad devastating illness. Our lives are never the same once it shows its ugly face. .

  111. @dee It may feel or look ugly, but there is a person inside who needs love and to become emotionally stable. I'm sure you know and understand that. Until our government and society put mental illness as a priority to own and solve, there will be homelessness, drug addiction, joblessness, and imprisonment of the mentally ill. They are treated as lesser beings -- and feared by those who do not understand their illness -- and deserve far, far better. A prayer sent that your BFF daughter lives a healthy, loving life.

  112. Thank you for this article. It will help break the silence and shame of mental illness. I do find it interesting that social media has helped you. I have found the opposite. I have depression but have never shared that because of the number of posts I see regarding depression. New agers believe it is something One can completely control and if I am suffering it is my fault. People That I know are heavy recreational drug users berate others for taking anti-depressents. People who know nothing about depression urge people “to face their problems instead of zoning out on meds. In vain do i try to tell them that anti-depressants are not “feel good” drugs. I find social media to be cruel. I am happy that it works for you and your brother. Keep educating!

  113. I don’t know. The caring about the author’s brother seems very real and sincere. Her understanding is problematic. The use of chemical imbalance has been rejected on several fronts. Read Frances Allen or and go to MIA website.Are there certain temperaments of course and there is trauma and who knows what else? The Mad Hatter was defined as Mad by Charles Dodgeson ( Lewis Carroll)because military factories use of chemical caused psychotic symptoms in their employers do I don’t think we really have a clue. Again this is an essay written by a family member. One viewpoint. There are options beside medication. Open Dialogue for one. The dialogue is important but will fail unless all are included and all thinking on emotional health is totally up front in the first pew of the church of we know best.

  114. @Mary OMalley Bi-bolar is a very serious mental illness and most certainly requires medication and therapy. both at some level depending on the individual. The brain will continue to deteriorate if mania is not ebbed -- the mania will become more frequent and more intense, as will the depression. In addition, mentally ill people are often abused (physically, sexually, emotionally) because they are less stable and therefore more vulnerable. If someone with bi-polar chose not to medicate, I would hope they have an excellent psychiatrist / therapist and family support should their mental balance become unstable. Go to for information.

  115. My daughter experienced a manic episode that lasted six months in 2017. It began with a physically and sexually abusive boyfriend and ended in four arrests, drug abuse, increased sexuality, eviction, a lost job, and lost friends. I followed her relentlessly on Facebook, and became convinced that her death might occur at any post. The end started when my husband and I hired a bi-polar coach and found (against all odds given HIPPA laws) a way to have her committed. She was in a hospital against her will for two months and then began a court-mandated mental health program that saved her life. Literally. I'm am happy to say she is employed, living with her two cats, and paying her own bills. But she refuses to speak with me since she blames me for being committed to a hospital and tells me I am a trigger for her. I have lost my daughter but she has a life. I miss her dearly and cannot fill the void that is left behind, except to hope and pray she will one day love me again.

  116. Susan, I was moved by your comment and am also profoundly sorry that you do not currently have contact with your daughter. I hope that over time this will change and that she comes to understand, forgive, and appreciate what you have done for her. As a bipolar sufferer I do understand how complicated and fractured family relationships can become. Having a sustained period of wellness can help us find perspective and come to terms with the past.

  117. Your brother needs to try a variety of strains of marijuana. The “whole plant” prohibition of cannabis IS an assault on bipolar Americans. Alcohol and prescription meds only make chemical imbalance worse. The variety of opposing cannabinoids found in whole plant cannabis help maintain homeostasis... chemical and hormonal balance... throughout the human body through receptors in the endocannabinoid system. The two opposing cannabinoids we are most familiar with are THC... which is psychoactive... and CBD... which is non psychoactive. Depending on our specific mental imbalance, diet and daily routines each of us may need a specific ratio of THC/CBD. For example, someone with schizophrenia may need a strain low in THC like Charlotte’s Web. Insomnia may require a more balanced Indica. A good mmj budtender in Colorado might have a better recommendation than your local physician. Bipolar disorder is a serious condition often rooted in psychological trauma and Post Traumatic Stress, head injuries or sometimes prescription drugs and alcohol are causing the problem. Marijuana helps us revisit the trauma from a more relaxed perspective while protecting the brain and providing homeostasis. You did not specify whether the “whole plant” medicine your brother refers to came from marijuana, or whether you live in a state with legal access to cannabis. That was like writing about Moby Dick and leaving out the whale and all the whale-oil oil tycoons. Perhaps your brother isn’t that crazy

  118. @Schedule 1 Remedy Interestingly I have noticed an improvement in my sister's communications with me since cannabis was legalized. I do not know for sure she is using it but two plus two and the timing means I am probably on the right path. I am deeply grateful of that and hope it gives her the support she needed that I for one was unable to continue to provide her as her directed verbal attacks became more punishing. At the same time I want to underline the intelligence part mentioned in this article or superior intelligence. I have to agree with this since over the years the most frustrating aspect was that whenever she personally emotionally and verbally attacked me it was always with few people around or none. Those that were present were the least likely to ever intervene. They were the parents that chose to see only what they wanted, you know see the best and forget the rest. Thirty plus years on and I can't forget the rest.

  119. @Schedule 1 Remedy This is such a dangerous thing to post. Some scientific literature points to marijuana use as a TRIGGER for the onset of bipolar disorder in some individuals. Until there is more scientific data, and we have a better understanding of how cannabis affects the brain, especially in young adults, recommending drug use to someone with these genetics is downright irresponsible. While I’m not against marijuana use in general (I live in a legal state), touting it as a treatment or cure without rigorous evidence is wrong. Google “cannibas-induced bipolar disorder” to access the journal articles. I have a teenage daughter who probably inherited bipolar genes from my abusive ex-husband. She is committed to sobriety because of our knowledge of his family’s extensive history of mental illness and the damage self-medication creates.

  120. @Megan P I believe there are as many views on cannabis use in the treatment of PTSD, anxiety, depression etc. as there are cannabis strains. As with many pharmaceutical grade medications there is and always will be side effects. Everything you take be it drugs, meds, whatever is Always at your own risk. Until they can scan your insides and give you detailed genetically corresponding targeted fixes that won't cause other problems that is the way it will be. I agree assume like you that the brain is most sensitive in youth and growing periods likely the least beneficial time to expose it to altering substances that carry long-term impacts. Unfortunately that is when most secretive and potentially damaging experimenting happens. That too is not likely to change any time soon.

  121. I live next door to someone who has bipolar. It has been extremely challenging and unrelenting experience. Mental illness negatively impacts families, teachers, neighbors, doctors, friends - who in the normal course of their life are faced with a person whose life is imploding on us. Those with mental illness need to raise their personal standards and take responsibility for their care - and their families, doctors, and friends need to hold them to a higher standard. I know my life has been needlessly and repeatedly disrupted by this person who has learned that if she throws an epic tantrum, her family will fold. The stigma of mental illness will never end until we hold those afflicted to a higher personal standard.

  122. @Patricia The higher standard you speak of is extremely difficult for one whose mind is not working normally to achieve. In fact without help it is almost impossible. It is usually necessary for a concerned other to intercede to get the person having a bipolar episode into care. Medication helps the bipolar mind achieve some balance. The swing from mania to depression is dangerous.

  123. @Patricia I've heard time and time and time again from those hurt by my manic episodes that I need to hold myself to higher personal standards. That my pre-diagnosis condition caused irreparable damage to their trust and their own mental well-being. I'm also expected to silently accept the one-sided narratives from those I've weirded out or exhausted. It's always on me to listen, and rarely to be listened to. It's as if I cashed out all of my emotional capital and my experience is minimized in pursuit of others constantly telling me how it was. I guess all I can say is that I wish maintenance was as easy as holding myself to a higher standard. If it's difficult to live around or be around someone with a manic depressive illness, imagine how far someone's mind is pushed into the ether for them to 'act out' the way they do. I still can't really put my own episode into words. I live in constant fear of relapse. I fear losing more people in my life. I feel I have a secret I have to keep from the few new ones who have entered it, lest they see bipolar disorder as an 'epic tantrum'. Comments like these are a reminder that maybe I should continue to keep my story to myself. My parents and therapist have continually told me that my illness is no different than if I had cancer or another disease. Yet, I have to wonder if terminally ill patients face the same, "I know this happened to you, but listen to me, now," mentality.

  124. @kyle - Thank you for sharing your experiences. My husband has bipolar disorder. He’s lucky to have responded well to treatment but he still has episodes occasionally. I’m shocked by how intolerant people are of his differences. Friends and associates - even those who consider themselves progressive and tolerant - tend to completely write him off after an episode. They can look the other way if a friend behaves obnoxiously while drunk, or if their uncle shares infuriating political views at Thanksgiving, but a socially uncomfortable display of bipolar symptoms is apparently unforgivable. It’s so unbelievably cruel and stupid.

  125. The brain chemistry theory of mental illness has been debunked. Only the immense influence of Big Pharma and professionals who make money using that theory keep it alive. Calling someone “bipolar” is an insult, not a diagnosis. The prevailing view, held by reputable scientists, is that mental and emotional problems, labeled “symptoms” by doctors who need a DSM diagnosis to prescribe drugs, are the product of trauma, not unbalanced brain chemistry, and should be addressed by therapy, lifestyle changes and other non medical means. One of the reasons that families prefer the medical model over the trauma model is that family members bear no responsibility for changes in brain chemistry but may well be responsible, wholly or in part, for trauma. The acts which gave rise to the suffering may have been committed by family members and also maintained by the family structure. A sad truth, not acknowledged by NAMI and similar groups, is that some people won’t recover until they sever all contact with their families.

  126. @rosenbar please cite your sources on this. I have not seen anything that supports your statements when it comes to the sort of mental illness described here. I have known people who are mentally ill and in many cases their illness is quite traumatic for the family. The family hasn't caused the illness but their responses and society's responses can worsen it. In some cases it may be better for both sides to avoid contact but there are others where the contact is needed. The medical model does not absolve families of all responsibility. It provides a framework to determine what can be done. However, if a minor child is involved parents are responsible for getting the child treatment, trying to help the child, etc. And if they cause the trauma by abusing the child they are responsible for his/her problems. But certain mental illnesses do run in families. Hence your claim is irresponsible.

  127. Wow. Just wow. What love you have for each other. Coming from an estranged sibling relationship, older sister me and younger brother, I have to think your parents helped shape your relationship. It's hard but for me it feels better to stop hiding . And we all have something we think we should hide.

  128. Thank you for this article, which accurately and honestly conveys the strains caused by this life threatening disease in loving relationships. There are few things worse than watching a loved one struggle with an intractable problem. I am floored by the number of we’ll intentioned, but I’ll informed comments offering “medical advice” with absolutely no scientific basis. Cannabis? Nutritional supplements? Relaxation techniques? Dangerous at worst or of limited benefit at best. Some of the best scientific minds have been working on a treatment for this scourge for generations, and have made modest strides towards understanding and treating it. It’s victims need competent treatment, understanding and support, not quack remedies.

  129. I commend the author’s bravery in both writing and sharing her as well as her brother’s experience with mental illness. It speaks to the paramount need for mental illness to be brought out of the shadows of shame and cast into the light of understanding. In addition, I also commend her on having her brother both read and adoptive the essay prior to submission/publication, as a sign of respect. As poignant as this essay is, I do wish the authors had chosen to rephrase “is bipolar” with “has bipolar disorder.” This distinction is not simply a nit-picky semantic or grammarian comment, but rather elucidates a long-standing problem with discussing and writing about mental illness. People who have a mental illness are often described as their condition—when in fact, as pervasive and painful and difficult as it is to both live with and navigate it—it does not encapsulate who they are in sum. We do not refer to people with cancer in that way. And given the severity of mental illness on multiple fronts, we should extend the same compassion to people who are living with it. On a final note, I do also wish her brother had been portrayed with more delicate nuances. To clarify, I think more space for him to be seen as a person with likes/dislikes would have been not only a more enjoyable read, but more importantly, would have helped to mitigate the “overachiever/tortured soul” trope that perpetuates a damaging narrative.

  130. Please pardon the typo: I meant “approve”, not “adoptive”.

  131. @CH pardon the typo: I meant “approve,” not “adoptive.”

  132. With public exposure de facto, the Eaveys chose greater engagement. For most, this wouldn't be desirable or beneficial. Not because of shame but because people have a right and a need to create the personal social milieu which nourishes and facilitates their own healing. This agency is essential to healing and stability, and they deserve it. If uncontrollable public events prompt the Eaveys to share more then they're turning lemons to lemonade and seeking some benefit for themselves and maybe others from something they couldn't control anyway. OK. But one encounters a serious problem readily apparent in the many comments that countenance HIPPA and civil rights violations, defamation and invasion of privacy. If this story unintentionally prompts others to "out" people, it's done a grave disservice to the mentally ill. While it's advisable family get their own counseling or NAMI support, it is disturbing that the takeaway for many would be tacit permission to violate the rights and dignity of any medical population. HIPPA law exists for good reason. Someone commented about "hiding." This isn't about hiding. It's about dIgnity. We should have concern about a facet of wellness philosophy that champions public disclosure at the expense of the best interest and dignity of the vulnerable. We all know things about other people's lives but have limits on our moral and legal right to publicly disrobe others. Family members needn't abuse a vulnerable person to meet their own needs.

  133. He has uncontrolled bipolar disorder, and he's going to be offering medical/psychiatric treatment to other people??